Canastota: The 'Lucky Ones' debut at expo

The Canastota Canal Town Museum will give the public a glimpse of 14 of Canastota's "lucky ones" at the Market Day and Business Expo April 5.

Canastota native Howard "Bud" Gleason compiled audio and photos of himself and 13 tight-knit friends who grew up together in the village.

After Pearl Harbor was attacked, Gleason, Rudy Albanese, Jarvis Dew, Alex Fiore, Warren Johnson, Herb Leneker, Gerald Lonkey, Ted Mero, Spencer Morecroft, Al New, Pem Newbery, Mike Perretta, Ted Schirmer and Bill Stearns enlisted.

"All 14 of us went, and 14 came back," Gleason said. None of the men would talk about their experiences, not to their wives, no one, Gleason said.

Gleason, who now lives in Missouri, thought it would be a good idea for posterity to preserve the memories. He contacted the four remaining friends and asked them if they would tell their stories.

"I had quite a job convincing them," Gleason said. "I told them that I wouldn't do any [interviews] unless they all would do it."

The 85-year-old Gleason edited the audio and video, recorded the narration and produced a DVD and entitled it, "The Lucky Ones."

Gleason said he felt the friends were lucky because they survived World War II and went on to be successful in their lives.

Gleason said the group served in numerous campaigns including North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany, China, the Philippines and the South Pacific in all branches of the service. Some were seriously wounded.

Gleason recalls Lonkey serving in North Africa, getting wounded in Sicily and then fighting later on in Northern Italy. Johnson served at the Battle of the Bulge, Mero and New were pilots and Albanese also was wounded.

Gleason said the groups "so-called gang" was much larger than 14 back in what he calls the "golden age" of growing up.

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