WWII vet Domenick D’Adamo steeped in St. Bridget Parish
Sunday, Oct. 11, was a day-long celebration for Domenick D’Adamo Jr., a longtime parishioner of St. Bridget, Richmond, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Monday, Oct. 12.
D’Adamo said he was caught off guard by the festivities.
“Good golly, they put tents up in the yard and everybody was over. They had a drive-by with all the cars. They had a police car there, and he was kind of directing stuff. And a fire engine came,” said D’Adamo. “It was a shock to me because I didn’t know it was going to happen! Many people came by that I hadn’t seen them in years, and I was very surprised. I guess they were surprised to see me, too.”
D’Adamo attended Mass at St. Bridget on his birthday with family and friends. Mass was celebrated by Father Tochi Iwuji, parochial vicar of the parish.
Father Iwuji welcomed those who gathered to celebrate D’Adamo’s birthday “in gratitude to God for his life, for all he has done for our nation, for our church, and for his continuous witness of faith and love.”
Born in Richmond in 1920, D’Adamo has spent his whole life in the Diocese of Richmond and said faith was an important part of his upbringing.
“It was just my living condition with my parents and grandparents and so on. The Lord was very important,” D’Adamo said, adding that his parents made sure he and his two older brothers attended Sunday Mass each week at St. Benedict Church in Richmond.
The D’Adamo boys attended St. Benedict School and then Benedictine College Preparatory.
After graduating from high school in 1937, D’Adamo began working as a dental technician at Richmond Dental Laboratory. He made “dentures, bridges and plates, crowns and all kinds of stuff.”
In 1942, at age 21, D’Adamo enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps and served as a bombardier on the B-24 bomber “Tondelao” and later on B-17 bombers.
“I was based in Africa for a while, then went off to England and stayed there the rest of the war,” D’Adamo said.
He completed 22 combat missions in dangerous conditions over Nazi occupied Europe. He said his faith was always with him.
“I had my rosary with me all the time. I’ve still got it with me,” said D’Adamo, tapping his pocket. “I told them I always had two things with me: my rosary and my parachute. I never needed the parachute.”
At the conclusion of his military service, D’Adamo returned to Richmond and resumed work as a dental technician.
D’Adamo and Shirley Massie D’Adamo were married at the former’s grandfather’s home on Grace Street in 1946 because she was not yet Catholic. Benedictine Father Rembert Codd, pastor of St. Benedict at that time, officiated the ceremony. They had three children, Shirley Packett, Rosemary Jones, and Stephen D’Adamo.
Shirely D’Adamo passed away in 1997. The couple’s son passed away in 2019.
After St. Bridget School opened in 1952, the D’Adamo family joined the parish.
“All of my children went through the school,” D’Adamo said.
Jones said that “the spirit of giving” was always present in the home.
She credits that witness and her Catholic education for her career as a director of volunteer services.
“He’s always been just the ultimate example of Christian love and service. And he and my mother both nurtured family so much that we have a very, very strong family among us. Our Christian faith and our family were just paramount. They were fantastic examples of that,” Jones said.
D’Adamo has been greatly involved in his Catholic faith throughout his life.
A priest, who D’Adamo described as “a friend of the family,” got him involved in several ministries at St. Bridget, including the Holy Name Society, Catholic Family Movement, Legion of Mary, Nocturnal Adoration Society and the West End Catholic Men’s Association.
He was also involved in food collections for Catholic Charities and volunteered in the parish office.
“I was back and forth between St. Bridget and St. Benedict for a while,” D’Adamo said. “My mother went to live with one of my brothers. And then when he quit driving, I took them both to Mass at St. Benedict.”
D’Adamo said he attended daily Mass at St. Bridget regularly until he stopped driving “at least a year ago.” Now he attends Mass for special occasions, like celebrating his 100th birthday.
At the Mass on Oct. 12, those in attendance sang “Happy Birthday” to D’Adamo. Pictures were taken, and well wishes were expressed.
“We celebrate Domenick not because he is perfect, but because he loves God above all things, and that’s showed in his time of service and in the devotion he has had and still has in his life to the Church and to the family,” Father Iwuji said in his homily. “So we thank God for you today, Domenick. You are the best. When we grow up, we’d like to be like you. We thank God for your witness, your continuous witness of faith and love.”