Michael Frank Caruso, 98, of Killingworth, returned to our Lord on August 15, 2022. For nearly seventy-six years, Mike was the devoted husband of Margaret (Testa) Caruso. Mike and his twin sister Marie were born January 14, 1924, in New Haven to Vincenzo (James) and Mary (Sanzero) Caruso.
Mike was a 1939 graduate of the Prince Street School in New Haven, where at the age of 6 he met his future wife, Margaret. The two instantly became an item and were nearly inseparable for the next 92 years. Even when not physically together, the two kept up an avid correspondence through letters that are cherished by their family to this day.
Most of Mike’s adolescence was spent working in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program developed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to “renew the country’s natural resources and challenge the human spirit of a nation in depression.” Mike and his older brothers John and Joe worked as part of Camp Hadley, Company 2101 of the CCC. Their company was tasked with building the Connecticut State Park known today as Chatfield Hollow. Mike was very proud of his service to the CCC and in May 2019 he was blessed to participate in a ceremony and statue unveiling honoring the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
At age 19, Mike enlisted in the United States Army. He very proudly served his country in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Mike was a member of the Army Corps of Engineers, and his principal duty was building airstrips for Allied planes. He served as a Sergeant in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Okinawa. Mike was also extremely proud to have been one of fewer than 15,000 men chosen to fly a glider during the war. These gliders were engine-less aircraft used to transport troops and heavy equipment across enemy lines without being detected and were not used again after World War II. For his service in the war, Mike was honored with 2 letter citations, 4 Bronze Stars, and a Silver Star, which is the third highest military decoration for valor in combat. Those who knew Mike will remember that he was very rarely seen without his “WWII Veteran” ball cap. Mike was a very proud American and continued into his nineties to give Veterans Day speeches, hoping to inspire younger generations to a call larger than themselves.
Mike returned from the war in January 1946 and married Margaret in New Haven on October 26, 1946, just ten days after her 21st birthday. They later moved to West Haven where they raised three beautiful daughters. Nothing was more important to Mike than his four girls and he worked tirelessly to provide a wonderful life for them. Early in his career, Mike worked as a truck driver for Portanova Lumber in Waterbury and E & J Gallo Wine in West Haven. Most of his career was spent as the Foreman for the Gerrity Lumber Company in North Haven. In his later years, Mike worked as a custodian at The Morgan School in Clinton, where he found great joy in socializing with the students and faculty.