PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two lifelong friends nearing 100 years of age are World War II veterans.
Nick Scarlatelli and Herman Skerlong both grew up in Pittsburgh and served in battles. They’re still friends today, and they both made a big difference in the war.
Nick Scarlatelli is the son of immigrants who grew up in Carrick and enlisted in the Air Force in 1941. It wasn’t long before he was shipped to the Panama Canal and saw action.
“When we got through the canal, there was a big sea battle. The United States Navy beat the Japanese and sent them home,” said Scarlatelli.
Nick’s main job was in the air as a gunner in an Air Cobra P39, a plane that had antiquated guns that jammed.
Nick is crediting with fixing the guns and making a big difference for fighter planes.
“I was mechanically inclined and I designed a friction belt that went around the projectiles,” said Scarlatelli.
This Memorial Day weekend, Nick plans on putting flags on the graves of his fellow soldiers who didn’t make it back.
Nick will turn 100 years old next week.
WATCH: KDKA’s Paul Martino Talks To Herman Skerlong
Skerlong is also nearing his 100th birthday, and he vividly remembers his tour of duty in World War II. He put his life on the line in the Battle of the Bulge.
With frostbitten legs, he crawled away from a German tank. His soldiers didn’t make it.
“The tank opened up with a machine gun, killed that guy,” said Skerlong. “Killed that colonel with his other troops. Finally we had to get out of there. We got down out of there.”
Skerlong nearly lost a leg, but he earned The Bronze Star for his efforts.