PAWTUCKET -- It seems like every person who lived through World War II has a story to tell. The war impacted everyone in the country back in the 1940s. Young men were drafted or enlisted in the military. Some able-bodied men worked in essential jobs and were required to continue in those jobs to help produce war materials for use by our armed services.
Women moved into the work force, too, gaining a foothold in the working world that they would never lose.
Parents and other family members went on with their lives, checking the newspaper each day for news from the European and Pacific Theaters. They were on a vigil, waiting for the mailman to deliver letters from their soldiers, pinning stars to the front doors of their home to signify how many soldiers came from this household.
The Domingos family on Pleasant St. in Pawtucket sent three boys into the military. The oldest, Augustine, joined the Army in 1941. “Auggie” was 22 years old at the time. Brother Norbert joined the same year at the age of 17. Younger brother Joe was just 14 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered the war. He would enlist in the Navy when he turned 17 in 1944.
“My brother Auggie had a friend who grew up on Pleasant Street, a guy by the name of Joseph Fernandes,” Joe Domingos recalled last week. “He saw action with my brother. Both were in the 77th Infantry Division and they ended up fighting during the invasion of Okinawa. This was in 1944. I was in the Navy by then.
“Both Auggie and Joe (Fernandes) were badly wounded in action on Okinawa,” Joe Domingos recalled. “Auggie died from his wounds. Joseph was shipped home. He went to our house and explained to my mother what happened to Auggie.
“I was on the USS Lejeune and we were anchored off of Okinawa. I was able to go ashore and look for my brother’s grave. I came to a cemetery that had what seemed like thousands of little white flags on the graves. It took me a couple of hours to find Auggie’s grave. But I found it. Seeing Auggie’s grave made me very sad.”
Auggie Domingos and many other American soldiers killed on Okinawa remain in the U.S. cemetery on that tiny island in the Pacific, the one not far from Japan that served as one of the final victories as the Allies moved closing to ending Japan’s status as a military power.
“My mother wanted Auggie to stay there,” Joe Domingos said. “It was just all too painful for her.”
Norbert Domingos returned home from the war in 1945 and died in 1998. Joseph Fernandes lived a long life, dying recently at the age of 95.
Joe Domingos worked for many years at the Newport Textile company. Now 83 years old, he is retired and living in Central Falls.
“I see your Military Page and it brings back many memories for me,” he said. “You had a picture of George Patrick Duffy in the paper. He lived a couple houses away from us on Pleasant Street in Pawtucket before the war. The war really changed our lives.
“I still think of Auggie from time to time,” Joe Domingos said. “He always took care of me and being the oldest, he took care of our family, too. Some nights I dream about Auggie. He was a real peach.”