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Article by Fiddle Viracola

Amazing happened. As the Riverside California, Navy Veteran ceremony for my brother Joseph Rocco Viracola was beginning, Marines learned he was a nephew of Marine MOH Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone. (Aunt Lena, the hero’s Marine wife is buried there). IMMEDIATEDLY Marines flooded forth and joined in gun salute, color guard etc.

My nephew Charlie Viracola (a comic) read what I wrote followed by clergy, Bible etc.

In perfect cadence both Navy and Marines became pallbearers on either side of Joe’s casket with Charlie. Taps from all the military soared I am told.

A tribute from Marines to my MOH uncle framed the memorial finale.

All unexpected.


(my favorite prayer in what I sent)

Beyond the beliefs of any one religion

There is truth of the human spirit

Beyond the power of nations, there

Is the power of the human heart.

Beyond the ordinary mind, the

Power of wisdom, love and healing

energy are at work in the universe.

When we find peace within our hearts

We contact these universal forces

This is our only hope.

(a sound is heard)      Who’s there?


They call me Joe Viracola.

Joey! Joey! You always surprise!

Like March 9th.2015.

Grief awakens a stream of what was. Let’s take a ride!!!

From “up the farm” to what lies next?


Go backwards then.  It’s all energy.

Thank you. Thank you for everything. Hooray for you

being a Navy Veteran… Korea…sailing the USS Columbus;

my silver bracelet from Tobruk; stories  of Italian relatives

you met in Italy; for being my gorgeous brother…

hug to hold-on a motorcycle ride…

Mama! Joey’s ducking out! (Mimics her)

Thank you for…

Charles, Thomas, Rocky, Stacy and Nicole.


How to ride our horses Hughie and Queenie.

I fell off… foot in stirrup. You laughed at me dragged across Parker Road.

Driving me to Pittsburgh to audition for Carnegie Mellon.


To Pacific Palisades to Henry Miller’s home. He became a wisdom figure.

But. I won’t walk the Long Branch boardwalk in a hurricane.

Hold my hand. Don’t be afraid. Jump if it collapses.

It did!!!! You pushed me!!

At the right time.

I remember…

“Run down the school hill… Leap up… Hold a colander overhead.”    I did Joey… nothing!!

Onward. Don’t ever give up!!!

Again… nothing.  Can’t. It’s me. I can’t!!!

Do it!!!!  

I’ll try.

You try or you succeed

O.K. Run… run-leap…colander above…

…wait…Ohhhhhhhhh….Wow!!! I caught music!!!!

There’s more than what we see!!!


Our Marine Aunt Lena Riggi Basilone…

Wife of MOH Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone 

Is here in Riverside.

Yes! Grave 5557. Lot 50.

Will you be buried near her?

Not in Riverside. First come. First served.

It’s so big!  Beautiful … and growing …by the day.

Honoring those who served America.

How do you know death isn’t the greatest thing to happen to a person?

(both) How do you know… death… isn’t the greatest thing… to happen to a person?