May 12, 1946 (Norwalk, CT) – July 10, 1967; 21 years old
Last local address: 20 Neptune Avenue, South Norwalk
Enlisted on August 31, 1966; MOS: 11B1P, Airborne Infantry Paratrooper
Tour Start Date: March 7, 1967
Service number: RA11799131
173RD AIRBORNE BRIGADE, 503RD INFANTRY, 4TH BATTALION, COMPANY B
Casualty Location: Kon Tum, South Vietnam (Hill 830)
James is on The Wall at Panel 23E, Line 41
Awarded the Purple Heart Medal
From The Norwalk Hour July 12, 1967
The seventh Norwalker became a victim of the war in Vietnam Monday when his airborne unit was ambushed by a Viet Cong force in Central Highlands near the Laotian border. PFC James T. Fabrizio, 21, only child of Vincent J. and Jean Gaeta Fabrizio of 20 Neptune Avenue, died of fragmentary wounds caused by an exploding mortar shell, according to the Department of the Army. The paratrooper force suffered 26 dead and 49 wounded after the enemy pasted them for two hours with mortar and small arms fire before fading into thick undergrowth, according to dispatches. The American force apparently stumbled into the well-fortified position because it was obscured by fog and steam from a heavy rain, said reports. The casualties were suffered by the 503rd Brigade of the 173rd Airborne Division which had been sent to the front along the Laotian border four months ago. It had incurred heavy casualties in that time, according to letters sent home by PFC Fabrizio. The young man had been performing as “tail man” and radio man for the company commander when he met death. He had already survived three or four fierce fire fights in the past four months and one time was among a party of paratroopers which held off a superior enemy force for several minutes until the bodies of eight dead comrades had been removed from the battle area. Two of his compatriots received bronze stars for that action and “Jim” had come in for his share of commendation as well. It was not the first time he had distinguished himself as a soldier or as a civilian. While training for the airborne at Fort Benning, Georgia last year, he finished near the top of this class and scored as an expert with rifle and machine gun. His position as “tail man” was also an indication of the regard in which he was held. As a civilian, he had performed well as a soccer player on the Brien McMahon High varsity and with the Norwalk Pony League all-stars which went to the regionals. He was a 1964 graduate of Brien McMahon and spent two years at Wright Tech in Stamford learning the construction trade. He was an apprentice mason and member of Local 5. His father is a master mason. “Jim” was quiet and serious of demeanor and well-liked in the neighborhood off Woodward Avenue near Harbor View, where he grew up. He lived in a modest two-story fieldstone and wood home which is father had built with his own hands. It’s a neat house with a tidy lawn. Mr. Fabrizio explained that “Jim” was just a young child when the house was being built, but he wanted his son to have a part in it. So, he placed a block in “Jim’s” hand and the little fellow dropped it sideways instead of lengthways. It was never touched again, just cemented into place. The father was working on a job in Ridgefield Wednesday when the staff sergeant from the Army caught up with him. He had left Maryland at 5 a.m. in hopes of reaching Mr. Fabrizio before he went to work. The sergeant was a paratrooper too, and is the custom of that elite group, they take care of their own. Mr. Fabrizio was grateful for the effort the sergeant had made. After the sergeant relayed the news, he went to the Western Union office here and gave them the okay to deliver the telegram from the Secretary of the Army informing the Fabrizios they had lost their only child. “Jim” need never have served in Vietnam if he hadn’t wanted to. He had a four-year deferment as an only child and as an apprentice mason who was still taking courses at Wright Tech. But last August, he made up his mind to enlist and did so, choosing the airborne in the bargain. Mr. Fabrizio was philosophical about it. “I’m proud of him. He wrote us saying: “I may die over here, but somebody has to do it and it might as well be me. You will just have to accept it.” Mrs. Fabrizio said: “Jim left his mark. He did the east wall of the new telephone building before he left.” Mr. Fabrizio piped in saying: “Yes. He and I did the wall facing Franklin Street. It was his first job after school was finished. He was very patient with it. It came out real well.” One of the first to pay his respects this morning at the home was Policeman Vincent D’Orso, whose son returned recently from several months combat in Vietnam. He had been very close to the Fabrizio boy. Survivors, in addition to his parents, includes his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Patsy Gaeta, and his paternal grandmother, Mrs. Ralph Ferrara, all of Norwalk, several aunts, uncles and cousins. Interment will be in St. John’s Cemetery. Arrangements are in charge of the Norwalk Funeral Home, 91 East Avenue.
From The Norwalk Hour July 21, 1967
The seventh victim of the Vietnam War from Norwalk was laid to rest Thursday – and the city mourned. PFC James T. Fabrizio of 20 Neptune Avenue was buried with full military honors in St. John’s Cemetery. The only child of Mr. and Mrs. Vincent P. Fabrizio was killed July 10 near the Laotian border of the Central Highlands in Vietnam when his paratrooper company was bombarded by a heavy Vietcong mortar barrage. A throng of relatives, friends and grateful citizens, official and unofficial, attended the funeral in St. Joseph’s Church, Right Reverend John V. Horgan, pastor, celebrated the solemn requiem mass assisted by Reverend Stanley Koziol and Reverend Patrick J. Healy. The mourners revealed the intensity of the emotion during the service when Soloist Richard Buonerba sang “Ave Maria.” They revealed their compassion when a seemingly endless number of them received communion with the family. Among those were Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Lilly of Rowayton who lost a son in Vietnam last year. The casket was carried by eight men of a 16-man honor guard of paratroopers sent from Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, New York. The other eight formed an honor guard. The long funeral cortege to the cemetery was escorted by personnel of the Norwalk Police Department. A police honor guard also attended the services. Some 200 mourners accompanied the body to the cemetery where Msgr. Horgan read the committal prayers. When he finished, the honor guard raised rifles and fired three volleys. The sharp, loud sound cracked fiercely against the heavy cloudbank overhead and reverberated upon the mourners soliciting sobs from the women. Mrs. Fabrizio clung to her husband. The flag was removed from the casket, carefully folded and presented to PFC Charles Leming who had accompanied the body from Dover, Delaware and had remained at the disposal of the family since he arrived here. He then presented it to Mrs. Fabrizio saying: “It is my honor to present to you this flag from a grateful nation for the loyal service rendered by your son, James.” The Fabrizios had feared just such a day since last summer when “Jamie,” as he was called, announced his intention to enlist in the Regular Army despite his deferment. Enlist he did – choosing the tough paratroopers as his assignment. It was typical of him to make such a choice, for physical challenges were a passion with him. Jamie purchased a set of weights and developed a physique by the time he was a young teenager in high school. He prepared himself for the day he might be called upon to perform a heroic deed. He was a romantic of the first order. Beside his bed stands a collection of books on men of courage, fighting and war. In his closet is an extensive collection of expensive toy soldiers representing practically every country of the world. One of the books by the bed is titled: “They Met Danger.” It contains the real-life stories of men who have been awarded the Medal of Honor. It is prefaced by a quotation of the early 19th century Prussian military hero, General Karl von Clausewitz. It says: “War is the province of danger, and therefore courage above all things is the first quality of a warrior.”
Private Fabrizio is buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Norwalk; Section B2, Lot 2020, Grave 1. Photos by webmaster.