PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
DAVID FUSINATO

David Fusinato was born December 27, 1925 to Clemente and Katie Fusinato in San Francisco, California.He has one sister, Wilma O. Flaherty.The family moved to Morgan Hill, California in 1929 to live on his grandfatherís ranch.David attended Machado Grammar School and graduated from Live Oak High School in June, 1944.

Shortly after graduation, David enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in San Francisco.After basic training in San Diego, David was assigned to an eight week tank school training command for crewman.After crewman training he was put in a replacement draft for overseas duty.December 26, 1944, David crossed the equator on the way to the South Pacific where he was assigned to the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division.After vigorous combat training at the Russell Islands in the Solomon Island group, the battalion boarded a Landing Ship Mechanized (LSM), and shipped out for the invasion of Okinawa.

April 1, 1945 (Easter Sunday) the 1st Tank Battalion went ashore in the 12th wave. Being April Foolís Day and very light enemy resistance, they werenít sure just what was going on with the enemy.By midday his battalion tanks were ready to move inland.Working with the 1st Marine Regiment, the area between two airfields, Yonton and Kadena, were secured for the first night.After dark an air attack began, and every ship in the landing force lit up the skies like the 4th of July.On the 2nd day, again with very little resistance, they moved across the island with the 6th Marine Division on their left flank and the 7th Army Division on the right.By the 3rd day the eastern shore was secured and the next few days were spent bringing in supplies, fuel, ammo and food; setting up ammo dumps and doing combat training.Daily the Kamikaze planes were targeting aircraft carriers, and after a few days, every ship was a target.

The end of April Davidís unit was sent to the front lines to relieve the 27th Army Division which had incurred heavy casualties.†† As tank loader and radio man, Davidís first day in actual combat was destroying enemy positions in rocky ridges and caves with their 75 mm cannons and machine guns.At sundown the tanks pulled back from combat to refuel, get ammo and clean their guns before returning to the front lines. At sun up the tanks were going through rice paddies and open areas in a three tank column when David, in the middle tank, spotted through his periscope an enemy suicide soldier come out of nowhere with a satchel charge full of TNT.Before the enemy combatant could throw it at the side of the lead tank, the Bow Gunner shot him.It was a terrifying experience.The tanks proceeded to the front again, to continue weeding out the enemy from caves and anything that appeared to be an enemy target.Most of the day, they continued to receive small arms fire.As they were preparing for an assault on a heavily fortified area called the Shuri Line of Defense, it began raining. It became so muddy the tanks were unable to move anywhere for almost two weeks.It took a couple days for the tanks to dry out, and when they returned to the front lines, it was discovered the enemy had relocated south of their previous line of defense.

For the next major assault, flame throwing tanks joined their ranks.When one of the gunners from A Company was wounded, David replaced him.The second day after enduring heavy combat in a valley, his tank took a hit on the top side of the turret, and it felt to David like the whole inside of the tank exploded.Luckily no one was injured, but most of the men were quite shaken up.When they arrived at the tank park that night, there was a big dent where the shell had struck the tank.

During the last few days of combat Davidís tanks were working with the 11th Marines Artillery Regiment. They secured areas, destroyed gun emplacements, and attempted to seal off caves spotted by forward observers.By the third week in June, the campaign for Okinawa was finally secured except for a few pockets of resistance that were soon wiped out.The whole Marine Division was moved to the northern end of the island that was almost untouched by the battles.In that area there were beautiful pine groves and rolling hills similar to places in California.

The next couple of weeks were spent building a new tent camp and doing repairs for the November invasion of Japan.Two A bombs were dropped in August, 1945, and Japan surrendered.†† Many soldiers said, ďThank God for the BombĒ.

Davidís battalion boarded a ship headed for the city of Tiensen for the Occupation of North China.Truck convoys were receiving small arms gunfire from communist units in small outside cities, so Davidís tank battalion escorted the convoys between the cities of Tiensen and Pieping.He returned to the United States in July, 1946, and received his discharge the following month at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego.

Through the Veterans Training Program David learned the meat cutters trade, which led to his employment at Telferís Market in Morgan Hill, California.While at a doctorís appointment in 1950, David met and soon married Frances Marie Von Raesfeld, who was the doctorís secretary.†† They had three children, Christine Marie Shinabarker, Victoria Forzani Boles, and David Christopher Fusinato; who gave them five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.Desiring to live on the California coast, David found employment with the Monty Mart Chain, and in 1962 the family moved to the beautiful coastal hamlet of Monterey, California.David retired in 1990 after 43 years as a meat cutter.In July, 1997, after a long illness, the family lost a wife, mother, and friend when Frances passed away from cancer.

Finding that he had too much lonely time on his hands, David moved to Clovis, California in 2000 to be near his son and family.††

Davidís son had been a visitor to the Veterans Memorial Museum ďHome of the Legion of ValorĒ and suggested that it was a great place for David to check out.David was hooked after his first visit and has been volunteering his time to the museum since November, 2005.He thoroughly enjoys working with a great group of fellow veterans at the museum.