Friends and fellow Kennebunk residents wanted to express their admiration for World War II veteran James Pastorelli, so threw him an early 100th birthday parade on Wednesday, May 27. Dozens of motorists drove through the neighborhood to wish him well.  Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK – The cars for James Pastorelli’s early birthday parade just kept coming, with dozens turning out to wish an old soldier greetings of the day.

Pastorelli, 99, a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, is due to mark his 100th birthday on Aug. 22, but Wednesday May 27 seemed like a good time to celebrate. It was a sunny day, and all of his four sons – Rick, Jim, Bob and Tom – were in town, along with some extended family members.

World War II veteran James Pastorelli of Kennebunk, shown here at a 2019 event, is marking his 100th birthday later this summer, but has been unwell lately, so the community organized an early parade on Wednesday, May 27. Courtesy photo

“If it makes Dad happy, why not,” said Rick.

There were so many vehicles in the parade – new ones, antiques ones, trucks, motorcycles and more, that a couple of dozen cars that missed the first run through the neighborhood around Merrifield Drive made the loop after the first parade wound down.

Neighbors stood by with signs wishing Pastorelli well.

He has been unwell of late, and was unable to make the trek outside to see the parade in person, but a family member streamed the event live, and they watched it together.

Pastorelli served with the 71st Infantry, and fought in France. He was among those who breached the Siegfried Line into Germany and later, made his way to Austria. When the war ended, Pastorelli became part of the U.S. Military Government. He was discharged and returned to the United States in 1946, his sons said.

In an August 2019 interview with Joe Foster on behalf of the Brick Store Museum and the Webber-Lefebvre Post 74 American Legion, Pastorelli talked about his wartime service – of sailing aboard the USS General J.R. Brooke in an unforgettable storm in the North Atlantic Ocean, and landing in Plymouth, England, before heading on to LeHavre, on the coast of France.

Neighbors of World War II veteran James Pastorelli hold signs wishing him well on Wednesday, May 27, the day the community came together to hold a parade of vehicles in his honor. Tammy Wells photo

Pastorelli spoke German and was transferred to the 71st Infantry headquarters, where he became an interpreter for a Major Neil, following the troops, analyzing various German towns and much more. The interview with Foster may be heard at:

The parade was the brainchild of friend and fellow veteran Dave Ferris, who said there were many who helped pull the event together to honor one of the community’s World War II heroes.

As they waited for the parade of cars, neighbors gathered.

“I went to school with his sons,” said Sue Brunelle, holding a “Happy Birthday” sign.

One of the signs in a parade held for World War II veteran and Kennebunk resident James Pastorelli on Wednesday, May 27. Tammy Wells photo

Andrea Rohde said she’s lived in the house next to James Pastorelli for 32 years.

“He is a dear, amazing man,” she said.

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