CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — World War II veteran and Harrison County resident Benjamin Portaro passed away over the weekend at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.

“Benny” Portaro moved to West Virginia from Italy as a small child so his father could work in the coal mines.

Ben Portaro holds a picture of himself when he was younger in July 2022. (WBOY image)

Starting at the age of 21, he served in the U.S. Army and took part in the Battle of Sauer Basin and then the Battle of the Bulge. During the latter, he was taken as a prisoner of war in 1945, and after his honorable discharge, he was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, WWII Victory Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award and French Legion of Honor, according to his obituary.

After a career with a construction company, Portaro retired to enjoy West Virginia’s natural beauty through gardening.

In a 2022 interview with 12 News about visiting the Clarksburg VA with Jim Lachapelle, Lachapelle said, “Ben’s part of the greatest generation we ever had.” The full video from that interview can be viewed in the player above.

Portaro’s family is asking that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Clarksburg Honor Flight which takes veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials for the wars they served in. Donations can be mailed to 285 Gallaher St. Huntington, WV 25705.

Details about services can be found in his obituary.