Eugene Peter Barone, a Sacramento bakery driver who fought in some of the bloodiest battles in Europe during World War II, died Feb. 11 at 93.
Mr. Barone was a happy-go-lucky guy who came home and made a comfortable life after serving his country in the Army, his family said. He bought a home in the Land Park neighborhood, raised a son with his wife, Avis, and enjoyed gardening and woodworking.
He got a job at a gas station and retired after 35 years of driving a truck and selling bread for Rainbo Baking Co. On weekends, he looked forward to bowling, fishing and swing dancing with his wife at popular nightclubs.
“They were real rockers,” said his daughter-in-law Lori. “He loved to dance.”
Mr. Barone’s settled life obscured vivid memories of fighting with the distinguished 3rd Armored Division – known as the “Spearhead” for its lead position in fierce attacks on German troops in World War II.
He advanced with the group into Normandy after the D-Day invasion and took part in the historic Battle of the Bulge. He also fought in northern France, the German Rhineland and central Europe.
Serving as a scout, he often traveled in front of the tanks. Injured once by a mortar shell while searching a farmhouse in France, he was rescued by medics – including an estranged brother, John, who drove the ambulance. The story of two brothers reuniting on the battlefield was reported in many newspapers, his family said.
Mr. Barone received a Purple Heart and hoped the injury would be enough to send him home. Instead, he was returned to the front after recovering and rejoined his unit on Christmas 1944, one of the bloodiest days in the Battle of the Bulge.
“It was horrible,” said his son Robert. “He never talked about the war. He had nightmares for years.”
Mr. Barone was born May 7, 1920, in Stockton and raised in Volcano in Amador County. His father was a local constable and bootlegger, and his mother was a homemaker who died by the time he was 14. The youngest of six children, he endured older brothers who “used to hang him up by his overalls,” his son said.
Drafted by the Army in 1942, he went to boot camp at Ford Ord and was sent for additional training to Kentucky and Louisiana. He sent for and married his girlfriend Avis Corbin before being transferred again to Southern California and Virginia. Finally, he shipped out on an overcrowded troop carrier to England to await the Allied invasion of France.
Mr. Barone was a “tough guy” who loved his wife dearly, his son said. He attended 3rd Armored Division reunions in San Jose for many years and continued driving into his 90s. He cared for his frail wife in recent years and fought his own battle with cancer and pulmonary disease “until the very end so he could continue to look after her,” his daughter-in-law said.
“He was a great man and a great veteran who served with the greatest generation,” she said.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Barone is survived by his brother Clarence, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Information about a service is pending. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Disabled American Veterans, www.dav.org.