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Memorial planned for Guadalupe veteran who was among last living WWII pathfinders

Posted at 6:44 AM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 13:20:54-04

A Guadalupe veteran, who is believed to have been one of the last living WWII paratroopers, has died and the community is planning to honor him with a memorial service this Saturday.

Bindo Stasi Grasso, a decorated pathfinder, died last week at the age of 96.

"If he had a chance to jump again, he would, even at 96 years old," said Grasso's son, Philip Grasso.

Philip Grasso said jumping was in his father's blood.

"He was 131st Airborne," Grasso said. "He always told me he did three jumps and one dry jump. I guess that's where they truck them in instead of jumping."

Though Philip Grasso said his father initially joined the military with friends for an opportunity to make some money, the deployment eventually turned personal.

"Something he told just me, I made him share it, was that he'd come across a concentration camp," said Stacy Moody, the veteran's granddaughter. "At that point, up until then, he was just doing his job. But after that, seeing what he saw, he got angry."

Anger turned to courage and the night before D-Day, Bindo Grasso was among the first to drop into German territory, leading American fighters into a battle that would shape the course of history.

"He jumped behind enemy lines and set up beacons for other gliders and troops to follow him," Philip Grasso said.

By the end of that bloody day in 1944, the Allies gained a foothold in Europe, eventually leading to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

But these stories of battle, these badges of honor are something Bindo Grasso kept to himself.

"As a kid you have all those questions," Philip Grasso said. "'Dad, did you fight the Germans?' He wouldn't talk about it."

That changed later in life when Bindo Grasso was faced with a hard realization.

"He was asked to speak at a middle school in Guadalupe and he came back and was kind of mortified that the kids didn't really know much about the war," Moody said.

Bindo Grasso decided to open up to his family, who helped share his story with the community, where he had already left a different kind of mark.

"Really his legacy, yes it's the war, but everything you see around you, he either did it or taught the person who did it how to do it," Moody said.

Though Bindo Grasso's important role in the military wasn't known until later in life, examples of his work as a builder are evident throughout the City of Santa Maria.

"The houses over there across the street, the move theater, even the school by this church, that was all my dad," Philip Grasso said.

Bindo Grasso was a man of many hats: a pathfinder, builder, and father and, to so many, a hero.

Moody said the Band of Brothers group is starting a Parachutes for Papa Bindo Grasso Memorial Skydive that they plan to hold annually.

A memorial is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at the American Legion Hall in Guadalupe. It all starts with a military escort from Spencer's Market in Orcutt.