Steve is my mom’s cousin. I was 10 years old when our family received the tragic news of Steve’s death. I was too young to understand the politics of the Vietnam War but I saw it on the news, in magazines and even though it was being fought in a country far away I felt like it was all around me. I worried that it would take the people who were special to me away from me. It touched every family that I knew.
Corporal Steven Blaine Riccione was only 20 years old when he laid down his life protecting others in Vietnam. At the time of his death he was only a Private but he was posthumously promoted to Corporal and awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with V for valor and Oak Leaf Cluster, which represents a second Bronze Star. Here is more from the news release:
Major General E.M. Strong, then Adjutant General of the 101st Airborne’s 1st Brigade, described Riccione’s actions in an October 1967 account of what took place the day Riccione died:
“PVT Riccione, with complete disregard for his own safety, rushed from his covered position through the vicious hail of enemy fire to aid his wounded comrade. He continuously exposed himself to the withering hail of enemy fire, standing up at times, to place effective fire on enemy positions. When his weapon was struck by an enemy bullet and demolished, he undauntedly picked up a machine gun and charged an enemy bunker, killing two enemy soldiers. Shortly after, PVT Riccione was mortally wounded while helping to evacuate wounded personnel while under heavy enemy fire. PVT Riccione’s devotion to duty and personal courage, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.”
This is a wonderful tribute to Steve and I’m very sorry that my Aunt Muriel and Uncle Humbert (Steve’s parents) passed away before they could see it happen. They dedicated a lot of time to Steve’s memory and started a campaign for him to receive the Medal of Honor. His surviving sisters and brother are still working hard to see that campaign succeed. They feel that the naming of the Geneva Post Office on Castle Street is one step in that direction.
The three dates being considered for the Post Office ceremony are July 27, the day he graduated paratrooper school; September 8, his birthday; or September 27, the date he died. Whichever the date, Steve’s sister, Susan Riccione had this to say about the ceremony, “When my brother passed away, there was no hero’s welcome for any of the vets that came home from Vietnam. I don’t want it to be just a celebration for my brother and for us. It needs to be for everybody. There needs to be, hopefully, some closure and some recognition.”
The following video is from C-Span Congressional Chronicle and features Representative Richard Hanna who’s idea it was to honor the local hero by naming the post office in his home town after him.
For everyone who has lost someone to war, I wish you peace on this Memorial Day.