- Associated Press - Monday, August 12, 2019

DANIELSON, Conn. (AP) - Armand Jolly was a 22-year-old gunner’s mate on the USS Emmons when Allied Forces launched D-Day operations in Normandy, France.

“It was six o’clock in the morning when our ship fired its first shot,” Jolly said. “BOOM. That started it.”

He was in that gun mount for the rest of the day providing cover for troops trying to take the beach. It remained his battle station for months to follow. Jolly and his shipmates were involved in five invasions altogether, in Africa, Italy, southern France, and Okinawa. The ship was sunk there after five kamikaze pilots flew into the destroyer. Jolly had to jump overboard without a life vest.

Jolly’s name and service came to the attention of Joseph Massaro. Massaro is the regional director of MoneyConcepts, a wealth management firm based out of Wethersfield, Connecticut. The company scheduled a conference in Normandy to coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and Massaro wanted to invite a veteran.

“I knew as soon as I met him that he was the one,” Massaro said of Jolly.

Jolly’s son and daughter-in-law, Dennis and Donna, accompanied him.

“He’d been traveling 30 hours with limited sleep, but as soon as he got there, he wanted to talk,” Dennis said with a laugh. “He worked a room with 250 people in it.”

Jolly talked to as many people as he could. He spoke to conference participants, residents of Normandy, fellow service members, and anyone who was interested. He was the living bridge to that day, having participated in the battle that killed so many troops but turned the tide in the war.

“To have a 96-year-old guy say this was one of the best days of his life was touching,” said Jolly’s son, Dennis. “Dad inspired us with his love of the place, and his commitment.”

“Going to Normandy and seeing the Navy monument and his ship’s name on it, and the cemetery with so many crosses, and for Dad to say, “Those are my brothers,” just made it so moving,” Donna Jolly said. “It’s one thing to hear him talk about it, but to be there on the beach where his ship was engaged was something entirely different.”

“He changed the conference so much,” Massaro said. “He made it so special.”

His presence impressed MoneyConcepts President and CEO Denis Walsh. After hearing Jolly rave about the Danielson Veterans Coffeehouse, Walsh donated $5,000 to the organization.

“He had so many good things to say about the coffeehouse and the services it provides veterans,” Massaro said.

Massaro reenacted the donation at the DVC on Aug. 6. Dennis and Donna Jolly were beside him as he accepted the money.

The Danielson Veterans Coffeehouse, a 501(c)3, has more than 500 members. Meetings are Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m. at the St. John Lutheran Church in Danielson. In the fall, it will hold the meetings at the Community Center on Broad Street in Danielson. For more information, go to the Facebook page.

Online: https://bit.ly/2Z2vImN


Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com

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