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Veterans Hall of Fame inductee strong advocate for charities
Stuart News - 2/12/2018
JENSEN BEACH - World War II veteran Joe Celli of Jensen Beach was honored Jan. 20 during awards ceremonies at VFW Post 10066 in Jensen Beach for his recent induction into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame.
Celli, 92, was one of 20 Florida veterans to receive the honor recognizing him for his military service and his public service to Martin County government and contributions to several charitable and veterans' organizations in Florida.
State Rep. Gayle Harrell presented Celli with the certificate signed by Gov. Rick Scott inducting him into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. Former Martin County Commissioner and Veterans Service Officer John Haddox, representing U.S. Congressman Brian Mast at the ceremony, awarded Celli the ribbon and gold medal.
The Florida Veterans Hall of Fame inductees are recognized not only for their military service, but for making a subsequent significant contribution to Florida through civic, business and other public service contributions.
Martin County Commission Chairman Ed Ciampi and Commissioner Doug Smith also participated in the awards presentations, which were held outdoors at the VFW. The Jensen Beach High School Air Force JROTC Color Guard and the Reverence Motorcycle Club presented the colors during the ceremony. The Road to Victory Military Museum displayed several vintage vehicles during the event.
Celli, who wore a replica of his World War II uniform, enlisted in the Army at age 17 in 1944. He served as a combat engineer in the China-Burma-India Theater and was awarded the American Theater Ribbon, the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon and the World War II Victory Medal.
After his honorable discharge from the Army, he attended college and led a very successful career as an executive of an international trucking company.
After retirement, he directed his leadership skills toward Martin County. He served as chairman of the Martin County Local Planning Agency and was a member of the Martin County Veterans Council.
He supported several local charitable organizations and was on the ground floor of fund-raising and development of the Martin County White Dove's Project, which collects and distributes toys to needy children during the holidays.
Another charity close to his heart is the Big Heart Brigade of the Treasure Coast, which provides meals to the needy.
Celli, who is legally blind, worked with officials at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Palm Beach and spearheaded fundraising efforts that led to the formation of the Blind Rehabilitation Program at the hospital. His efforts also led to the 1995 creation of the Friends of Fisher House, which provides temporary housing to family members of hospitalized veterans.
Celli currently is service officer at VFW Post 10066 in Jensen Beach and has helped countless veterans get the assistance they need and deserve. He also belongs to American Legion Post 126 and AmVets Post 92 in Jensen Beach.