Joseph Orffeo 1926-2013, Joe Orffeo in the Navy during WWII

Joseph Orffeo 1926-2013, Joe Orffeo in the Navy during WWII

Joe Orffeo, Artist and Veteran by Steve Csati

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Joe Orffeo Artist and Veteran

Joe has been interested in art his entire life. He was creating art in High School and when he turned seventeen, and graduated, he asked his mother to sign the papers that would allow him to join the Navy in 1943. World War II was raging and everyone wanted to do their part to help the war effort. So at (17) seventeen years old Joe became an able bodied seaman in the United States Navy. He was assigned to be a pilot skippering a Higgins Boat supplying ammunition to the troops on shore in the South Pacific fighting the Japanese.

As the war progressed, Joe also landed Marines and Army combat troops in the Battle for the Philippines and the Battle for Okinawa. If you have seen the movie “Saving Private Ryan”, Joe piloted the same type of boat (a Higgins Boat) that landed the troops at Normandy. (D-Day). It was just as dangerous and harrowing in the Pacific. There were many men like Joe that brought troops from the mother ship to the beaches under fire, over and over again. At the battle of Okinawa, Joe had just signaled his friend on a nearby aircraft carrier and twenty minutes later he watched as three Kamikaze aircraft hit his friends carrier. Kamikaze aircraft were aircraft piloted by the Japanese and filled with high explosives. These pilots then crashed their aircraft into American ships. It was very hard to stop them and they took the lives of many Americans and sunk many ships. Thankfully his friend survived the attack and he still keeps in contact with him.

Recently Joe participated in the Honor Fight from Buffalo to Washington D.C. to view the WWII monument. The Honor Flight takes WWII veterans down to Washington to see the monument. One person each escorts them for the entire day. Most would never see the monument dedicated to their unselfish call of duty if it were not for the Honor Flight program. It is a very moving experience for them and their escorts.

While Joe was in Washington he visited Arlington National Cemetery. When he came back he created two paintings based on his own personal experience. They are moving in their own right. Every veteran has the right to be buried in Arlington when they pass on and that is Joe’s wish. I just hope it isn’t for quite a while.

So today and every day when you see a veteran or a man or women in service to this country, thank them. We have what we have today due to  their sacrifice.

-Steve Csati, fall 2012


The Battle of the Coral Sea was the first against the Japanese in the South Pacific that stopped the Japanese advance across this great ocean. The United States fleet proved that they were up to the task. This was in May of 1942, about six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. It was considered a draw, but the U.S. held their ground. The tide was beginning to turn. The Japanese were stopped.

Following the loss of the USS Lexington (an aircraft carrier) in this battle, a new larger Essex class carrier was given the name Lexington to honor those brave men and their ship.

The large photograph above shows a Japanese Kamikaze aircraft about to hit the new Lexington in the Battle of the Philippines. In a split second the aircraft, and pilot, will explode into the Lexington. The smaller photograph shows the hit and the force of this Kamikaze attack.

Imagine floating on the ocean in the smallest boat and witnessing history first hand like Joe at 17 -18 years old. His friend was on a different carrier and had three kamikaze hits lke the Lexington.

Now take a moment to ponder, how did these brave men do it. Not just these men in this display, but all veterans, men and women. Also let us remember those who serve in our military today .