Paul DeGaeta is the nephew of 509th PIB veteran Nick DeGaeta. He wrote a weekly history column in five editions of the NY Times owned Sarasota Herald Tribune that he often used to bring awareness to people of sacrifices and accomplishments of the 509th PIB. He collected oral histories from numerous 509ers across the county, often stopping in to see them while driving back and forth between Florida and Maine to his schooner.
Paul served as Historian for the 509 Association and upgraded and wrote the newsletter for a number of years. His newsletters focused on the accomplishment of the 509th in WWII, and were designed to bring honor to the outfit and make the men who served proud. The WWII veterans thought so much of Paul that they made him an honorary 509er.
Paul hosted the 60th Anniversary of the First American Combat Parachute Drop in 2002. The event was held in an old WWII USO club in Punta Gorda, Florida. He footed the cost and hosted a BBQ without accepting an allotment from the Association. In conjunction with the reunion, he mounted a major historical exhibit on the 509th in WWII that stayed up for years at the Florida Adventure Museum and Charlotte County Historical Society. DeGaeta wrote and published a special book for the event; First From Above: The 509PIB in WWII, that was given as a gift to each 509er who attended.
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