By Sandi Latimer
In 1966, a young married Marine from the westside of Columbus was a long way from home – halfway around the world, to be exact.
JP (Jimmy) Jones had been sent to Vietnam and was stationed at Da Nang. One day at the PX, he bumped into another Marine. Not just another Marine, but his cousin Danny Sanfillipo.
“I didn’t know he was over there,” Jones reminisced about their Christmas holiday 50 years ago.
The two sat side-by-side talking about their days in the country where summer temperatures in the triple digits were not unusual. And in winter, “it was cold,” Sanfillipo said of the 70-degree temperatures.
Water for showers was often heated by the sun, but Jones was the envy of his camp.
“I had a hot plate,” he boasted of an item his wife Gale had sent him.”I could heat water for my shower.”
But the best gift he had that year was from Gale, who worked as a waitress at a westside restaurant.
She and her boss, Tony Corrova, packed a box of meats and cheese which he had for Christmas. They packed pepperoni, sausage, ham and provolone cheese, he recalled.
“It cost her $20 to send it,” he said.
Jones invited Sanfillipo to share it as well as his bother Donnie who was stationed near Saigon.
Danny and Donnie served two tours in Vietnam, but Jones, after one tour, came home and went into police work. He spent 30 years with the Columbus Division of Police and now manages the property room at the Grove City Police Department.
Donnie went into construction and settled in North Carolina, while cousin Danny retired from Anheuser Busch. JP and Danny both live in Grove City.
But the three – and lots more – will be together Dec. 18 when they say thanks to the descendants of Tony Corrova, who helped Gale send the box of treats in 1966. They’ll be gathering at the TAT Ristorante on the eastside.
“It’s because of their generosity,” Jones said, “and it’s our way of saying thanks to them.”
Albeit fifty years later.