Okie from Muskogee: New York transplant enjoys Okie’s life | Existence
Carmine Capparello, self-described “Okie from New York”, recalled joining the Navy in 1990 because he didn’t want to go to college.
“I was a kid who flew past the seat of my pants,” said Capparello. “My mom said, ‘You are getting ready for graduation, what are you going to do?’ And I said, ‘Uhhhh, that’s a good question.’ “
He answered this question by devoting his life to service. After Navy Boot Camp in Florida and school in Mississippi, Capparello’s first service was four years at the Pentagon.
After moving to Oklahoma in 1998, he attended the Spartan College of Aeronautics. Capparello later rejoined the Navy and was posted to Iraq in 1998.
Capparello now serves veterans as a counselor with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and as the commander of the American Legion Post 15 from Muskogee.
As a member of the Navy Funeral Honors Team, he honors Navy veterans after their deaths. He said he has attended 700 funerals since joining in 2012. Capparello said he has been to funerals in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, including Fort Gibson National Cemetery.
“Before I started at the VA, I averaged 20 a month,” he said. “Now I do eight to ten, eight to twelve a month.”
He remembered funerals of Pearl Harbor victims whose remains had been found.
In his spare time, Capparello likes to go on long motorcycle trips, often with his fiancée or friends.
He said he also enjoys woodworking and recently completed a wooden deck around his garden pool. He also made Christmas trees out of old pallets.
“I got stuck in the house because of COVID so we decided to get a pool, build a deck and fence, and try to do some home improvement,” he said. “I think I’ve always been fascinated by woodworking.”
Carmine Capparello loves to ride his motorcycle on the open road, often with his fiancée on her back.
His current bike is a 2020 Harley Davidson Ultra with heated seats and heated handlebar grips.
“It has a radio, GPS,” he said. “I can connect my phone to it or to bluetooth. It’s just convenient. “
He had also covered thousands of miles on the 2012 Harley Davidson Dyna.
Capparello said he and his cycling groups went all the way to Oregon. He and two others drove from Amarillo, Texas to San Diego once in one day.
“We got up early and I think we got there around midnight,” he said. “There were definitely some boring parts.”
Driving with friends makes the distance worth it.
“There are a lot of good people who ride motorcycles,” he said.
And he said, “It’s nothing like a car.”
“There’s a lot more open road and the wind,” he said. “And the weather is of course a few challenges.”
He remembered being caught in rainstorms to and from El Paso.
“We stopped for dinner on the way back and rented a hotel room on the way back so we could dry off,” he said.
Capparello and his fiancée recently drove through the Smoky Mountains.
“It’s one of the most dangerous motorcycle routes in the United States,” he said. “There are 211 turns in 11 miles. But it was a great time. “
Capparello said his biggest challenge on the Navy Funeral Honors Team is maintaining military dignity without getting emotional.
“You can listen to the funeral and see how great it was. You met them when they left, ”he said. “Sometimes, after it’s all over, you meet with grieving widows.”
Team members must follow strict military etiquette while folding the flag, displaying the flag to loved ones, and playing “taps”. He said he had to speak to his next of kin often while presenting the flag.
“I gave flags to the parents. I gave flags to spouses, brothers – those are the tough ones, ”he said. “I gave flags to my best friend’s wife. I’ve done this three times. “
Capparello said that even though he has certain words to say, he is still constipated.
“I lost a few good friends last year, one to cancer and one to heart problems,” he said. “I’ve given flags to their spouses, and I’m friends of their spouses too.”
He said the greatest reward was “just the honor of knowing that the funeral was properly performed, that it was performed properly, and that the honor was there for the veteran”.
“The ability to honor a fallen veteran is incredible,” he said.
Two veteran motorcycle groups allow Capparello to combine his love of cycling with an interest in veterans.
“There are a lot of good people who ride motorcycles,” he said. “The first one I was involved with was the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association. This is actually a worldwide motorcycle association. “
He is also part of the American Legion Riders.
“We do toy runs,” he said. “And a lot of the people who are with American Legion Riders are also with the Combat Vets.”
Capparello has been part of the American Legion for several years. He said he was drawn into the Legion through a friend who was a Navy commander.
“He trusted that I was his first deputy,” he said. “He was also part of the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association.”
In March of last year, Capparello became postal commander after the previous commandant died of heart disease.
Since then, Capparello has taken on a variety of roles. On Thursdays he calls the letters and numbers at the Post’s weekly bingo game.
He also worked with Muskogee City to arrange this year’s Veterans Day ceremony. Representatives of the armed forces were honored at this year’s ceremony. He presented each award winner with a plaque and an appreciation bag.
How did you come to be an OKIE from MUSKOGEE?
“I originally became an Okie from Tulsa. I moved to Tulsa in 1998. I have been a reservist since 2012. I came to Muskogee in 2016 to get closer to my job and have been here ever since. ”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSCOGEE?
“I like the feeling of a small town. It’s Tulsa, but not Tulsa. I can come to Tulsa and all the craziness and business and stuff, but I don’t get stuck in the craziness if I don’t want to. “
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER LOCATION?
“Fix the streets. Definitely the streets. There are many beaten up parts of the city. “
WHICH PERSON IN MUSKOGEE DO YOU WONDER MOST?
“The Church. Cindy Matthews, she’s the youth director.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“I got engaged to Muskogee. Being in command of the American Legion is kind of bittersweet. I was the vice-commander and one of my friends was the commander and he died. It was great to be entrusted in a building this size. I did a lot of fun things here, the 100th anniversary of our charter here. Was in charge of toy runs here. I was promoted to my current job while stationed here. “
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
“We are now rebuilding our house. It takes a lot of time. The kids have lots of activities. They are 14 and 11. Brenley, the 14 year old, likes to dance and Haden plays guitar one night a week. He is 11. We love game night. ”
HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARIZE MUSCOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“Small town; big heart.”
MEET Carmine Capparello
HOME CITY: Gloversville, New York.
EDUCATION: Gloversville High School, class of 1990.
MILITARY SERVICE: From 1990 until today. Current rank, chief petty officer.
OCCUPATION: Judge at the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
FAMILY: fiancee, Cindy Buie; Daughter; His fiancée has two children.
CHURCH: United Methodist.
HOBBIES: bicycles, woodwork, family.