Many of the individuals featured as the “Person of Thomas” are active members of the community as we speak. This month, however, is slightly different. This month our person of Thomas, is someone who had been an active part of this community for 96 years. Vince DiBacco has called Thomas his home for his entire life, and he has an incredible story to tell. He has seen Thomas through many trying times. From the Great Depression, World War 2, and the closing of the mines. He has always believed Thomas is the best place to live and would pull through any adversity.
Visiting Vince at his home in Cortland Acres it felt as though we had been friends for years. As soon as I sat down he told me his entire story, after asking just one question. I was inspired by his honesty and bravery to talk about such a difficult time. The visit was incredibly memorable and even included a small tour of his home and a trip to the gift shop where he treated me to some candy! He is the type of person who if you take the time, will genuinely change your life.
Dibacco was born in 1921 and is the youngest of nine children. Thomas has been the backdrop for a majority of his life not counting the time he spent in seminary school or away in the war. He had always dreamed of becoming a priest and once he graduated from high school he went to seminary school near Baltimore. However, when WW2 broke out, he decided to volunteer for the army. He wanted to do his duty to fight for our nation. Once he completed his amphibious trainings at bases in Kentucky, Florida, and West Virginia he headed overseas. His time in the military took him to the UK and eventually to the beaches of Normandy where he served with the Army’s 61st Medical Battalion. Like many people, as you can imagine, that battle changed DiBacco’s life. Post invasion he was stationed in a chateau outside of Paris where he trained French locals to be medics. He developed friendships with many individuals over there that remained friends throughout his life.
Upon returning to the states post war, he moved back to Thomas where he had hoped to go back to seminary school. Life, however, had alternate plans for him. He remained in Thomas and worked for his family at a variety of businesses around the area. As he grew older he remained in his hometown here in Tucker County. DiBacco has continued to be a passionate and active member of the community. He is a long time member of the Catholic Church and has been honored by the Knights of Columbus in a variety of ways. He was also awarded with a Bronze Star Medal for his service in the war. Vince is they type of character that immediately upon meeting him you feel like you’ve been friends for years. His openness about his history will have you bursting with pride to be able to call him a neighbor.
Looking back on his time in Thomas, he has always been rooting for this small town to prosper Having lived here his entire life he not only wanted it to succeed because he loved his hometown, but he also wanted to preserve the memories of his friends and family who called Thomas home for their entire lives. He believes we have a unique town with loads to offer. From the artists who have come in and begun to revitalize the community to the boulder park that was built near Davis, Tucker County as a whole has been able to maintain a beating heart even at times when it seemed impossible. It is thanks to people like DiBacco who continued to believe in our town. Without their support our Thomas would not be where it is today. We cannot thank Vince DiBacco enough for his service not only for our nation, but also his dedication to Thomas. He has been an amazing asset and neighbor since before many of the community even called Thomas home. We are lucky to call him a peer.