Life Stories: Dino Cerutti, World War II pilot
NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Most of the dogs in an Upper East Side neighborhood know and love Dino Cerutti, who has been giving treats to dogs and feeding the sparrows for about 30 years. The 94-year-old said that making the animals happy makes him happy.
This fixture of the neighborhood was a fighter pilot in World War II. Dino said he had dreamed of becoming a pilot since he was 8 or 9.
Dino enlisted in the military when he was 18 and was stationed in the South Pacific. Dino said his squadron was preparing to invade Japan when the U.S. government dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. He said his squadron was completely surprised.
Shortly after the bombing of Hiroshima, Dino flew over the city. He said the view of the destruction was staggering.
"I know that wars have to be fought some time or other," Dino said. "But they should not allow that kind of warfare where you can devastate and virtually wipe out an entire population in one second."
He has many memories of World War II but the one that sticks with him the most is the death of his friend and fellow pilot Carrol Anthony of Odessa, Texas. He crashed while attempting to take off.
"And all his ammo and gas exploded and I took off anyway," he said. "I flew through all that black smoke, I looked down and I could see his plane burning."
Dino has been trying to find Anthony's family to give them some of the photos he has of his friend. But he hasn't had any luck finding family members.
At 94, Dino doesn't show any signs of slowing down. His best advice for millennials for a long life: stay away from drugs and smoking, and help others.
"Be engaged. Care about other people, get involved with other people," he said. "Never stop learning."