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Cambria County Bridge Dedicated to World War II Veteran and an Advocate

October 27, 2023 11:00 AM
By: Jay Knarr

​The October 13 dedication of the Charles J. Vizzini Memorial Bridge on U.S. Route 22 in Ebensburg is the culmination of a story that owes its start to what might best be described as either incredible luck or divine intervention.  

A decorated WWII veteran, with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vizzini, a native of Colver, Cambria County, died in 2009 at the age of 85 after a lifetime of veterans' advocacy and community service that included acting as Commander of the Ebensburg VFW Post 4963, and organizing memorial services for veterans and victims of local coalmine disasters.

"I personally love hearing the stories of our WWII veterans, like Mr. Vizzini," said Assistant District Executive – Maintenance Dave Kammerer during the dedication ceremony. "You can see from his lifelong accomplishments and actions exactly why his generation is often referred to as 'the Greatest Generation.'"

None of Vizzini's accomplishments could have been possible, however, if not for a miraculous event that happened decades earlier during the war, detailed in Section 21 of HB 2630, Act 140 of 2022.

While fighting in France, then U.S. Army PFC. Vizzini was struck in the chest by bullets from a German pistol. In a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood action film, Vizzini was saved from serious injury and possibly death when the bullets struck the Catholic Bible in his left breast pocket and a Catholic Missal (a book containing the prayers and instructions for a Roman Catholic Mass) in his right breast pocket.

After surviving the war – in astonishing fashion – and making the most of his second chance, Vizzini now has his named attached to a bridge. With only 44 of Cambria County's 333 bridges named by legislative decree, it is an honor befitting his exceptional effort.

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