WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – A World War II veteran living in Williamsburg received a special tribute and 10 On Your Side was there to capture it.
97-year-old Mort Gutoff served in the Army and fought at the Battle of the Bulge.
“He went off to war, ended up in the Battle of the Bulge, and was issued a M1 Carbine and a trumpet. That’s what he went off to war with,” said his son, Bob Marcellus.
Marcellus says his father wanted to see the fife and drum bands perform for the Fourth of July, but had a stroke and could not go.
Gutoff is on hospice care now and Marcellus worried this would be his last chance to see the performance for the holiday.
So, he reached out to the Army to see if they could perform at Gutoff’s home.
On Thursday, the 380th Army Band out of Fort Eustis played for him and his loved ones.
“It’s a privilege to say thank you to those who came before us, who sacrificed so much. We stand in their shadows because they were such a tremendous generation,” said Fort Eustis’s family life chaplain Major Jeffery Paul Ellis.
Ellis says he was able to get the band together on such short notice because many wanted to say thank you to Gutoff, who also played in the Army band during his time in the service.
But they were also appreciative of the distinguished musician, who studied at Julliard and spent many decades performing all over the country including with those such as Frank Sinatra and the Glen Miller Band.
“They’re all so meaningful, all so great, and all so well arranged,” Gutoff said.
And despite years and years of playing and listening, he still loves music as passionately as ever.
“Everybody loves music. It starts the day and ends the day … beautiful,” he said.
Gutoff and his wife Olivia also spent many years as school band directors in the Washington, D.C. area.
They met while playing in a pit at the National Theater.
She died in April and Gutoff’s health has declined since.
His sons say the music today has helped.
“We didn’t know if he would be talkative or not, but you could see him react to the music today,” Marcellus said.
Gutoff’s other son, Fred Marcellus, also plays for a military band.
“Music can make a difference in people’s lives. You can see it when the Army band comes in here. You can see it on the smiles on the people’s faces and you can see it on him,” he said.
It’s an illustrious life celebrated through the music Gutoff loves and one he wouldn’t want to live any other way.
“I met such wonderful people along the way. I couldn’t exchange that for anything,” he said.