• January 4 2019,  Saugus

    Declassifying a World War II legend

    At Saugus ceremony, family learns story behind hero “Pop” Virnelli’s Bronze Star By Mark E. Vogler Until about 10 months ago, former Saugus residents Frank and Jim Virnelli said, they never knew the story behind the heroic mission that earned their dad a Bronze Star and Air Medal posthumously after his death in World War II. Master Sergeant Thomas “Pop” Virnelli earned those military decorations for putting his life on the line on Aug. 24, 1944, when he led a four-man team behind enemy lines to salvage any useable components from an L-5 plane that crashed near the French Alps. Virnelli and his crew had only 15 minutes to remove…