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Veteran Spotlight: Marine Lt. Dominick Sondrini

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
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Lt. Dominick Sondrini with family.
DALTON, Mass. — Dominick Sondrini served his country in the Marine Corps for four years as a lieutenant. 
 
Growing up in Dalton, he attended the former St. Joseph's in Pittsfield and Wahconah Regional High School. After graduating from Western New England College, he was sent by the Marines to Quantico, Va., for Officer Candidate School, where he also completed the demanding Infantry Officer Course. 
 
"Getting through these felt like a massive accomplishment — the drill instructors, some were mean, some were funny. There's so much yelling but I found lots of elements funny," he remembered, and smiled recalling how "this drill instructor is in my face screaming that I stink, tells someone to get him a can of aerosol ... then sprays it all around me."
 
Lt. Sondrini's first deployment was June 6, 2006. "I was pretty scared, didn't know what to expect. It was a very emotional time with my family," he recalled.
 
The deployment was with the Marine Expeditionary Unit. "We got on Navy ships, went to Italy, France, Jordan, Kuwait," he said. "We were out on the water a week or two at a time."
 
After a safe return back to the states, he was sent to Sierra, Nev., for a Winter Mountain Leaders Course.
 
His second deployment was to Fallujah in Iraq, where his unit worked with the Iraqi Highway Patrol. "The takeaway is looking at all the cities that were destroyed," he said. "I remember, young Iraqi kids playing soccer amongst the ruins, like they were on a regular field." 
 
I asked Lt. Sondrini about being deployed for the holidays and he responded: "there's no getting away from it, it was lonely ... I was close with my platoon sergeant and the guys in my unit, camaraderie is what kept us going — plain and simple."
 

Sondrini in Iraq.
Sondrini shared a story to show how difficult it was during his time there in 2007-08 when there wasn't a "determined enemy."
 
"Every mission you're put into a position where you could harm someone, you were always aware of that," he said. 
 
A vehicle kept approaching his convoy and didn't pay attention to any warning protocols. So they shot up the car.
 
"We didn't kill him ... the interpreter said the man couldn't read," Sondrini said. "We left him there with two bottles of water and a box of doughnuts. The interpreter was the most important person with us in our platoon."
 
He shared another powerful memory of running a checkpoint with a strict 10 p.m. curfew for civilians.  
 
"We shut down the highway and had 20-25 people screaming and yelling. It was getting ugly. The Iraqi Highway Patrol went down the highway and began firing their guns into the air, which only escalated the tension," he recalled. "People finally calmed down when they brought out the attack dogs."
 
I asked Lt. Sondrini the best part about his service and he responded, "You're presented with very difficult challenges and you're able to work through them. I took my Marine experience into everyday life." 
 
His feelings on returning home? "I didn't feel good or bad, it was kind of a culture shock," he said. "I had a wonderful reception — I have great family and friends."
 
Lt. Dominick Sondrini, thank you for your service to our great country.
 
Veteran Spotlight is a column by Wayne Soares that will run twice a month. Soares is a motivational speaker and comedian who has frequently entertained the troops overseas with the USO. To recommend a veteran for Soares' column, write to waynesoares1@gmail.com.
 

 


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Berkshires Gets Limited Vaccine Doses; Named 'High-Efficiency Collaborative'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — COVID-19 vaccine shipments expected early last week were delayed because of inclement weather and were smaller than expected, leaving Berkshire County shorthanded. And a "very limited" amount of vaccines was available for appointment first-dose slots on Wednesday.  
 
"This week, Massachusetts received 139,000 doses," Mayor Linda Tyer said to the City Council on Tuesday. "That's it, we have a million potential new residents who are eligible, but for the week we received 139,000 doses."
 
Public Health Program Manager Laura Kittross said there is limited access everywhere and doesn't expect this to be an ongoing issue.  She hopes to see additional vaccine allocations later this week and is "certainly hopeful for next week."
 
On Thursday, there were very limited first-dose clinic at Berkshire Community College from 2 to 5 with 300 appointments available to eligible individuals. The North Adams and Great Barrington vaccination sites will also hold first-dose clinics on Thursday, offering 250 doses each. All of those were gone by late afternoon on Wednesday.
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