Nicholas L. Patrino
Biography: Nicholas Leo Patrino, “Nick”, was born on October 9, 1923, in San Jose, California. He was the son of Peter and Nancy Patrino and attended San Jose High School through the 11th grade.
Service Time: Nick was drafted and entered the service on January 11, 1943, at San Francisco, CA. His father drove him to Fort Ord, CA, where he would complete his basic training. In the back seat with Nick was his girlfriend, Evelyn, who had been his sweetheart since junior high. Ten days after he was drafted, Evelyn received a postcard from Nick with the following message:
“Dear honey, I sure do miss you. I think about you night and day. When I go to bed I can’t sleep because I just think of you. I hope this war would get over with so I could come back to you. I couldn’t write sooner because I was busy getting clothes and shots. I hope your love for me won’t fade away. I love you so very much. Hope I see you soon. Love Nick.”
He was assigned to Company A of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them throughout the U.S. While stationed in Tennessee, Nick sent Evelyn train fare so she could meet him while he was on furlough. On February 26, 1944, he married Evelyn Jean Zetterquist, who was from San Jose as well and was the daughter of John and Melissa Zetterquist.
The unit sailed from the New York port on May 30, 1944, aboard the Queen Elizabeth. They arrived in Scotland on June 5th. They were initially assigned to Communications Zone and 12th Army Group security duties between August and December 1944. On December 17th, the battalion entered combat near Malmedy, Belgium.
On December 21st, one section of A Company’s second platoon, commanded by 1st Lt. Orin Harper was assigned to defend the entrance to the town, which was at a paper factory, located on the avenue, Pont de Warche, in Malmedy, Belgium. The Germans, who were known as the Skorzeny SS Panzer Brigade 150, led by SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Colonel) Otto Skorzeny, had snuck up from the fields and were impersonating Americans. They were also operating what looked to be American tanks, disguised with a star on the front and back of the tanks.
When the Germans attacked, Pvt. Nicholas Patrino was manning one of the thee machine guns supporting an infantry company. It was thought that they would be overrun by the enemy but Nick remained at his gun, taking the full force of the attack, and continued with such accurate and fierce fire that the Germans were forced back and had to withdraw. For his actions, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
The 825th returned to security duties on January 16th, 1945, and would go on to receive credit for the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.
Nick returned home, and to Evelyn, and immediately went to work for the San Jose Canning Company. He later began a career with the Pacific Bell Telephone Company that spanned over 30 years, retiring in 1983 at 60 years of age. Retirement found Nick enjoying morning coffee with his golfing buddies, and afternoons on the golf course. The couple would have a son, Robert in 1955, who they named in honor of Evelyn’s brother Robert, a WWII B-29 pilot, who had died when his plane was shot down over Tokyo. They would also have a daughter Nancy, born in 1957.
Nick considered his wife, two children and four grandchildren to be his greatest joys and biggest source of pride in life. Nick passed away on July 23, 1990, and was buried under a large oak tree in the Oak Memorial Park Cemetery in San Jose, CA. After his death, the family would grow to include one more grandchild and seven, great-grandchildren.
Thank you to Nick’s daughter, Nancy, for providing the information and photos for this tribute. Thank you also to Serge Lemaire for his research to honor these men.