StoryCorps: Nuremberg Trials Guard Dies Of COVID-19 At StoryCorps, a daughter cherishes memories with her dad, WWII veteran Emilio "Leo" DiPalma, who died of COVID-19 last month at age 93. "I'm honoring his life, not how he died," Emily Aho said.
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Remembering Her Father, A WWII Veteran Who Stood Guard At The Nuremberg Trials

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Remembering Her Father, A WWII Veteran Who Stood Guard At The Nuremberg Trials

Remembering Her Father, A WWII Veteran Who Stood Guard At The Nuremberg Trials

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Time now for StoryCorps. On this Memorial Day weekend, we recall Army Staff Sergeant Emilio "Leo" DiPalma, who fought in World War II and served as a guard at the first Nuremberg trial. Among those he guarded was Hermann Goring, the Nazi leader who established concentration camps.

EMILY AHO: He was 19 years old. And he told me that Hermann Goring stood there glaring at the side of his face. And my father said he did not react to him at all and took him down to the cellblock. My father stood up to that man.

INSKEEP: That's Leo's daughter Emily Aho, who recently recalled her father who died of COVID-19 last month.

AHO: I got this idea about taking him back to Germany around Memorial Day in May of 2000. He was 75 years old. And he had all these things he wanted to talk to me about. I'll never forget it.

(LAUGHTER)

AHO: I may not have had a lot of time with my dad before. But I had that week.

HANNAH SIBLEY-LIDDLE: Why did you decide that he should go live at the veterans nursing home?

AHO: After grandma died, he was alone, you know? And over time, he started to get a little forgetful. And so we quickly moved him to a assisted living place. And he was thrilled because he was with all veterans. And he was really happy about going there.

SIBLEY-LIDDLE: Tell me about the last time you saw him.

AHO: I visited him March 8. I just got this feeling that I needed to go see him. And I needed to go see him that day. And I talked to him. I talked to him. And I told him that he was a good dad and that I loved him. And I talked about our trip. And he looked up at me. And he held my hand. And he smiled. When I left that day, I did say to the nurse, if he should get worse, would you please call me? And she said, yes. But by that time, they had started restrictions. And then they shut the place down.

He was No. 28 who died of COVID. I wanted to be there. But I didn't get that chance. That was probably the hardest part. You know, also, we couldn't have a funeral. And it's kind of, like, a long pain that's just carried out. So it's tough. But I knew my dad. And he wanted people to never forget what he did during World War II so that the rest of us could stay safe in the future. And I feel like I need to carry that on. I'm honoring his life, not how he died.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATTHEW STEVENS' "FOREIGN GHOSTS")

INSKEEP: Emily Aho and her daughter Hannah Sibley-Liddle recalling Emilio "Leo" DiPalma. They recorded that talk with StoryCorps Connect, which allows loved ones to view each other remotely. Yes, I'm affected. The conversation will be archived at the library of Congress. And you can record your own interview at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATTHEW STEVENS' "FOREIGN GHOSTS")

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