Arpino was surrounded Monday by members of the VFW Chalfont Lodge 32. Credit: Tommy Rowan/METRO Arpino was surrounded Monday by members of the VFW Chalfont Lodge 32. Credit: Tommy Rowan/METRO

 

In July, William "Ron" Arpino, an Army veteran who fought in the Korean War, was given 4 weeks to live.

 

Bob Lopez, a volunteer at the Hosptice Center at Holy Redeemer Hospital who enjoys visiting with the residents, started meeting with Arpino and started trading stories.

 

 

One story Lopez couldn't shake: Arpino, who was injured in battle, earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star, but never claimed them.

 

Arpino declined the award 60 years ago, he told Lopez, because he was fearful his mother would find out he was injured and fear for his life.

With Arpino on his death bed, Lopez started making calls to get the dying man his medals.

"Something overcomes you when you know somebody's going to die in 4 weeks," Lopez said. "That's the funny thing about Hospice. You just get so attached."

On Monday, members of the Chalfont VFW Post 3258 brought Arpino, 82, a replica of the military's oldest military decoration, which is awarded for men hurt or killed in battle. The real thing, said his daughter, Lu Cugini, would have just taken too much time to get to the Meadowbrook facility.

Time her father doesn't have.

"As a family we should be in mourning right now," his daughter, Lu Cugini, said yesterday, "but here we are at what is undeniably the end of dad's life and we're here celebrating. … maybe he was supposed to wait 60 years."

Arpino, 82, a long-time Northeast resident, perched in his wheelchair, said he was greatly touched by the moment.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "I'll tell ya. I'd like to stick my chest out all over the place today, yes sir."

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