James Marinelli was born on May 19th, 1921. His parents were Joseph and Flavia. His mother was the sister of Hero Tony Duca, James mother immigrated from Italy with her parents. They lived in Downingtown. James was the oldest brother of three children. His brother, Dominic is also one of our heroes.
James attended Downingtown High School. He worked at Downingtown Manufacturing Company. He was a member of the Alert and Minquas Fire Companies, St. Anthony’s Lodge and St. Joseph’s Church. James was known as a pleasant, quiet and reserved. James loved baseball and bowling, as was an avid hunter.
James received basic training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and advanced desert training in California. He then was sent overseas where he served in the 337th Infantry Regiment of the 85th Custer Division, of the Fifth Army in Northern Italy.
James pictured back row, right with his fellow soldiers in Italy
James unceasingly worked for two days supplying his platoon with ammunition using a jeep and running from foxhole to foxhole, transporting wounded on his return trips. On October 8th, 1944, he was in an army ambulance transporting wounded from the front lines, including his friend Mickey. The ambulance hit a bump, the door flew open, and Mickey’s stretcher slid out of the moving vehicle. Just then the ambulance hit a buried mine and was destroyed as Mickey was yelling for them to stop. Corporal James Marinelli was killed. A neighbor Dominic Castaldi, remembers the Marinelli hunting dogs eerily howled all night, almost as if they knew James was killed.
James was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters as well as the Purple Heart for his heroic service.
Solemn Memorial Requiem Mass was held on October 30th at St Joseph’s Church. A double funeral and burial with full military honors occurred on March 26th 1949 and was widely attended by the community.
Downingtown dedicated a community park on Veteran's day, 2004 near the Marinelli’s homestead. The Park is named to honor the Marinelli brothers who gave their lives in service to their country. The park restoration project, initiated by neighborhood residents and other community leaders calling themselves the "Friends of Marinelli Park", was paid for almost totally by public and corporate donations. The dedication ceremony included presentations by local dignitaries, music by the East Ward Elementary School Chorus, and the attendance of local World War II veterans.