Brockton's Joe Labriola, 75, a decorated Vietnam squad leader, had one wish throughout his life – to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Regretfully, Mr. Labriola could never be buried there due to his murder conviction 46 years ago, for which he served in prison until he received medical parole last year. He died in July while waiting to hear back from the Massachusetts Parole Board, which hasn't made a decision yet.

Labriola was decorated with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor. It's strange that he was an acclaimed lifesaver on the battlefield, and a convicted life taker on the streets back home, that didn't welcome him with any respect whatsoever. During his entire prison sentence, he's affirmed his innocence in what prosecutors called a hired killing, without a fragment of forensic evidence and no eyewitnesses in the murder of an alleged drug dealer.

He may have had serious problems after his Vietnam years, but why is anyone looking at his post-service years that have nothing to do with validating his wish? Was Labriola decorated for his bravery, bloodshed, sacrifice, and service to our nation? He was, so therefore he rightfully earned the honor of being buried at Arlington.

He is posthumously asking the Massachusetts Parole Board only for commutation, not a pardon. Truth is, the U.S. Senate said in cases like this, a murder conviction shouldn't invariably define someone's life, which leads me to believe that clemency is sometimes warranted so that a heroic soldier can have an honorable burial.

I pray, and ask earnestly for the parole board to have mercy, and that Mr. Labriola's dying wish be granted.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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