My GRCC Story: Sue DelRaso reflects on her father’s life, military service after laying him to rest in Arlington National Cemetery

When Sue DelRaso closes her eyes, she still hears them.

“For the rest of my days, the sound of that 21-gun salute and the trumpeter playing taps at Arlington National Cemetery will never leave me,” DelRaso said. “It was the ultimate honor paid to my father, who bravely served our nation for 22 years in the Navy.”

DelRaso shared the story of her father’s military service in honor of Veterans Day, observed annually on Nov. 11 as a tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

DelRaso started at GRCC in 2004 as a student tutor and is now the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center Tutorial and Open Computer Lab coordinator.

Her father, Robert DelRaso, came from a large Italian family in Grand Rapids. He joined the Navy after graduating from Catholic Central High School in 1958 and later married his long-distance sweetheart, Gladys McCarthy. Throughout his 22 years as a Navy electronics technician, his wife and three children accompanied him wherever his military service sent him.

“We spent a lot of time all over the East Coast, but also lived nearly four years in Morocco when I was a child,” Sue DelRaso said. “What an amazing experience. I’m told I could speak fluent French-Arabic when I was 3 years old.”

DelRaso said she loved her childhood and the way her entire family supported her father in his service.

“I’ve had people ask me if I hated moving around my whole life. For me, it was an adventure – and my family was closer because of it,” she said. “My dad gave a lot for his country, he taught others what he knew, and he was proud of what he did.

“He instilled that pride and love of country in all of us.”

Her father served aboard the USS Intrepid during the Vietnam War and aboard the USS Barton during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He received many medals and awards during his time in the Navy.

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