A World War II veteran from Massachusetts was honored with a sendoff Thursday before making a trip south.
Anthony Grasso, 96, of Norwood, is an American hero on a mission. And he gets emotional talking about it.
"I never -- I never thought I'd get this, and I thank everybody," he said Thursday.
Grasso is making the trip to honor the memory of the man who saved his life. In 1944, his battalion was hit hard by a German counterattack. They took heavy artillery fire, and the foxhole Grasso shared with Lt. Frank Dubose was hit.
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He says Dubose is the reason he's alive.
"And I have to pay my respects for saving my life," he said. "I can never, never, never forget what he did for me. If you wasn't there, you can't realize it."
Dubose is buried in South Carolina, and that's where Grasso is heading.
Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrisey was key to the effort to raise the money to send him.
"There aren't many people of this generation left that have such a simple request," Morrissey said. "And this is to pay tribute to the person who saved his life."
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The small request was granted with a big sendoff, including bagpipes and a police escort to Logan Airport.
Many of those who showed up don't know Grasso, but they know a hero when they see one.
"Veterans have always had a special place in my heart, and I just think it's respectful and it's what we owe them to show up for moments like this to say 'Thank you for your service to our country,'" said Stacy Murphy of Walpole.
"My dad's a veteran, and her dad was a veteran, and it just means a lot to us to be here and participate in something like this," added her friend, Marion Houser.
Norwood Selectman Bill Plasko says this is a unique and dwindling opportunity.
"To show our respect for the service that Tony Grasso and others like him have given us, not only in World War II, since, and this was a perfect opportunity to do that," Plasko said. "I just wanted to be among all the other folks that were here today."
Grasso received two Purple Hearts during his service in World War II. He's accompanied by several members of his family on the trip to South Carolina.