World War II Project: Pizza – Zeltmann

Click for the other World War II biographies: Intro/Part 1 (Aceto-Conti) Part 2 (Costa-Krafft), and Part 3 (LaBarbera-Phipard)

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PIZZA, ANDREW (1926-2021). Private, United States Army. According to his World War II draft card, Pizza was born in Brooklyn. As per the 1930 federal census, he lived with his parents, Edward and Genevieve, and a younger brother, on 21st Street in Brooklyn. His father was a baker. The 1940 federal census documents that the family lived on 7th Avenue in Brooklyn and his father was a foreman at a bakery supply company.

Pizza’s World War II draft card details that he resided at 195 East 21st Street in Brooklyn and his mother was designated next of kin. His employer was Mr. Joe Lowe and his place of employment was Bakery Supplies in Manhattan. Noted on his draft card is his discharge date of July 18, 1946.  The registrar’s report, dated August 8, 1944, describes him as 5′ 8″ and 155 pounds with gray eyes, brown hair, light complexion with a large scar on his left leg caused by an accident. Pizza signed up for the draft on his eighteenth birthday (August 8). As per his World War II enlistment record, Pizza’s actual date of enlistment was October 1, 1944. He was single, entered the army as a private, and completed three years of high school. There is no other documentation regarding his service history.

As per the 1950 census, the twenty-three-year old Pizza lived with his parents and siblings, Anthony, 20, and Roseann, 6, at the 195 East 21st Street residence. Andrew is documented as a laborer’s helper at the Edison Electric Company. He and Rina Rosiello applied for a marriage license in Brooklyn in 1954. The couple celebrated sixty-seven years of marriage and had two sons, Edward and Ryan.

According to his obituary page from the Hanley Funeral Home, Andrew “Chubby” Pizza retired from Con Edison in 1988 after 40 years. He loved to garden and play cards. He enjoyed his stay in Florida and the Arrochar Friendship Club. He was very handy and could build or fix anything. He was happiest when spending time with family!” Section 132, lot 42148.

PLACIDO, STEVE (or STEFANO) (1926-2014). Seaman first class, United States Navy. Placido was born in New York to Stefano Placido, an Italian immigrant, and Rosalie Placido, an American of Italian descent. At the time of the 1930 census, his father Stefano, a cabinet maker, was 29 years old, his mother Rosalie 23, Steve (then known as Stefano) was 3 years and 9 months, and his younger brother Gastavo was just over 1 year old. The family lived in Brooklyn at 328 12th Street. As per the 1940 census, the family continued to live on 328 12th Street. Stefano Placido was then 39 and a cabinetmaker and his wife Rosalie was 33 and a dressmaker. They had three children: Stefano was 13, Gastavo 11, and a younger daughter named Mary was 9. Placido attended St. Saviour Elementary School and Manual Training High School (now John Jay Educational Campus) in Park Slope.

In 1943, Placido registered for the United States Navy at the age of 19. The registration card lists his first name as Steve, his employer’s name as Veteran and his father is listed as the person who will always know his address. That document indicates that he had a home telephone. His daughter, Susan Placido Lauser, reports that from 1944 to 1945, Placido served on board the USS Monterey (CVL-26), a small aircraft carrier, which made voyages to the Philippines including Leyte Gulf, Japan including Honshu and Okinawa. He is listed among the sailors aboard the USS Monterey on May 29, 1944, with his service having begun on May 14, and is also listed on the ship’s muster roll for March 31, 1945. There were many air strikes in Okinawa, Saeki, Kure, Tokuma, Misawa, Atsugi and Tokyo but the aircraft carrier was never captured. It was however, struck by Typhoon Cobra while in the Pacific and the ship almost sunk. Gerald R. Ford, the future 38th President of the United States, was also serving on the Monterey at this time. For his service, Placido was given the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, and the Victory Medal. Placido is listed on the muster roll for the USS Monterrey on April 1, 1946. In 1949, Placido married Helen L. Miscione and the couple had two children: Susan (born in 1954), and Steven (born in 1956). As per his daughter, he was the owner of West Potato, Inc. According to the United States Public Records, he lived in Brooklyn from 1984-1996 and again from 1998 to 2005, then in Parksville, New York, from 1996 to 1998, and in New York City from 2005 until his death. Section 39/40, lot 38325, grave 821

Steve Placido

PLAENER, ALFRED JOHN (1922-2007). United States Coast Guard. Alfred John Plaener was born in Manhattan to William Ludvig Plaener, born August 28, 1887, and Anna McCormack Plaener, born August 9, 1888. His parents had married in New York on February 2, 1918. William was born in Hamburg, Germany, and Anna, also later known as Anne, in Roscommon, Ireland. Both parents eventually became United States citizens, William on March 22, 1932, and Anna on May 1, 1956. When William filed his Declaration of Intention to become a citizen on March 31, 1925, he listed his address as 414 61st Street, Brooklyn, and his occupation as chef manager; he was 5′ 7″ in height, weighed 150 pounds, with light brown hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. By the time he was naturalized, in 1932, he was living at 261 67th Street in Brooklyn, and indicated that he had initially entered the United States from Bermuda, at which time his nearest relative or friend lived on 277 West 11th Street in Manhattan. Anna had entered the United States by way of New York City on March 15, 1905. The manifest for the S.S. Fort Victoria shows that both parents, already married, had been outside the United States and had returned together from Bermuda on March 24, 1921.

Alfred had an older brother, William Robert, born October 24, 1919, also in New York City. In 1940, according to the federal census of that year, the family lived at 261 67th Street in Brooklyn and Alfred’s father was a manager at a restaurant. Alfred was living at this same address in 1993.

Plaener registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, when he was 20 years old.  According to his draft card, Alfred was 6 feet tall, weighed 175 pounds, and had a light complexion with brown hair and blue eyes. His brother William is described in almost the same way on his draft card, although William was 5′ 9″ tall.  At the time Alfred registered, he worked at E.W. Bliss Company on 53rd Street and 2nd Avenue in Brooklyn.  Although it is unknown what Alfred did while employed there, the Bliss Company manufactured metal pressing machines and pressed metal products and “during the Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II the company obtained important defense contracts for the manufacture of torpedoes.” Father William also registered for the draft, and his 1942 registration card showed him working at Cosmo Cafeteria, 1321 Surf Avenue in Coney Island and living at 261 67th Street in Brooklyn. 

Alfred served in the military from December 28, 1942, until March 29, 1946. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs record for Alfred indicates that he served in the Navy, his gravestone more specifically identifies him as a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. This is not a discrepancy since the Coast Guard operates under the Navy in times of war. 

According to the 1950 federal census, Alfred lived with his mother and father, but his brother William was no longer in the household, perhaps because he was already married and living with his spouse, Jane Letitia Greffath. Alfred’s father was still a restaurant manager and Alfred worked as a bartender in a tavern. 

The Trans World Airlines passenger manifest of July 22, 1955 shows that Alfred Plaener flew out of New York on Trans World Airline Flight No. 880-22.  He returned to New York on August 18, 1955, arriving on Trans World Airlines Flight No. 861-18 from London, England. 

Alfred’s father died in August 1964. His mother died in 1971.  Alfred’s brother, William, died on November 11, 1993, when he was 74. William, his wife Jane, their son Christopher, and his mother Anna are all interred in the same plot at Green-Wood, Section 131, lot 35217, but Alfred’s father William is not at Green-Wood, and Alfred is interred in a different plot. Section 103, lot 45067.

POLESINELLI, FRANK JOSEPH (1919-2002). Corporal, Merrill’s Marauders, United States Army. Frank was born in Brooklyn to parents Barnard and Josephine Polesinelli. He attended Our Lady of Peace Grammar School through the eighth grade. The earliest record of the family is the 1940 census which describes Barnard Polesinelli as fifty-three and his wife Josephine Polesinelli as fifty. Frank was recorded as white, single and twenty-one years old and one of the eldest children, his sister Mildred also being twenty-one. He had four younger sisters: Rose who was nineteen, Mary who was eighteen, Antoinette who was eleven, and Lorion who was five. Frank had completed his school education till the 8th grade and worked as a peddler. The same 1940 census records indicate that he had worked thirty hours in the week prior, worked for himself and had an income of $182.

In 1942, Polesinelli enlisted in the army at Fort Jay on Governors Island in New York Harbor. His enlistment record describes him as 5′ 8″ tall, 158 pounds and lists that he worked as a huckster and peddler. His registration card indicates he lived at 571 Union Street in Brooklyn, his mother was his emergency contact and his employer was Frank Cassillo at 63 Garfield Place in Brooklyn.

Polesinelli trained in Trinidad, Louisiana, and Georgia. As reported by his son, he volunteered for the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), also known as Merrill’s Marauders and named after Frank Merrill, the United States Army general who commanded the unit in the World War II’s Burma Campaign. When he volunteered, he did not know what his mission would be; volunteers were told that they would receive a special and dangerous assignment. Merrill’s Marauders was a special operations force active between 1943 and 1944 which fought in the China-Burma-India Theater. The Marauders advanced 750 miles in just over five months, carrying their equipment on their backs or on mules, in some of the harshest jungle terrain in the world. This was farther than any other United States Army advanced in World War II, despite hunger and disease. These men were considered expendable; they were not expected to survive. Polesinelli fought battles near Walawbum (February 24 through March 7, 1944) and Shaduzup (March 12 through April 25, 1944) as reported by his son. The special force also fought in Inkangahtawng, Nhpum Ga, and Myitkyina. During the siege of Nhpum Ga beginning on April 9, 1944, the 3rd Battalion broke through the enemy line. Polesnelli’s son reports that at Nhpum Ga, Burma (now Myanmar), his father was ill with amebic dysentery and was evacuated by small plane. The Marauders battled the Japanese Army on thirty-two separate occasions, including two battles for which the unit was not equipped or intended to take part.

For their service in Burma, the Marauders each received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, and they were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (originally called the Distinguished Unit Citation). In 2020, the Merrill’s Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act became law. It awarded the highest token of gratitude for the service, and sacrifice, of the men of that unit. In 1945, Polesinelli was discharged and he retired as corporal. He was married to Mary Jean; the couple had a son and a daughter. He was self-employed in the fruit and vegetable business.  His death was attributed to natural causes. Section 5, lot 39944, grave 1.

Merrill’s Marauders badge.
Mary Jean and Frank Polesinelli.

PONZI, EMIDIO LAWRENCE (1925-2018). Corporal, 1st Division, 6th Regiment, United States Marines. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Park Slope, Emidio was the second child of Vincent and Isabel Ponzi. Vincent Ponzi was an Italian immigrant and a street railway worker; his wife, Isabel, was born in New York. As per the 1940 census, the family lived at 187 8th Street in Brooklyn. At the time, Emidio had an older sister named Helen who was eighteen and he himself was fifteen years old and had completed his third year of high school.

In 1943, at the age of eighteen, Ponzi graduated from what was then Manual Training High School (now known as John Jay Educational Campus) in Brooklyn and enlisted in the Marines. His registration card listed his mother as his next of kin and his employer as N.W Gossard at 315 4th Avenue in New York City. He received training at the 4th Recruit Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in South Carolina, and began his service as private, fighting in the Pacific Theatre at the Battle of Okinawa with the 6th Marine Division. By 1946, after three years of service, Ponzi had become a corporal.

In 1951, Ponzi joined the New York City Police Department where he served for thirty-six years and retired as detective sergeant in the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad. He was one of the detectives on the Brooklyn South Task Force investigating the sniper shootings in southern Bensonhurst in 1981. In a May 26 Daily News report on the shooting investigation, he was quoted as saying that it appeared it was “random shootings by an unknown sniper firing from an altitude.”

Ponzi and his wife, Edith, had three children: Vincent, Isabel, and Joseph. After his retirement in 1987, the couple moved to Palm Harbor in Florida where they lived for many years. He is said to have made a lot of friends and was described as “a voracious reader.”

In 2015, Ponzi’s wife Edith passed away and Ponzi died three years later at the age of ninety-three. He was survived by his three children; his grandchildren Janine, Christine, Philip, Laura, and Jennifer and eight great grandchildren. One of his dearest childhood friends described him as a great man and friend, respected by all, especially his peers on the job and in life. Ponzi’s funeral mass was held at Our Lady of Pity Roman Catholic Church in Staten Island. Section 177, lot 40415, grave 1.

Ponzi in uniform, stateside.
Ponzi’s badges.
Ponzi and his granddaughter.

PRICE, FREDERIC (or FREDERICK) P. (1917-1994). Captain, Company D Infantry, United States Army. Price was born in Oneonta, New York. His first name is recorded as Frederick on the birth index as well as on all subsequent documents issued prior to his military service.  However, his name was often spelled with the “k” at the end. As per the 1920 federal census, he lived with his parents, Clinton and Mae, and his older brother, George, on Spencer Place in Brooklyn. Both parents were born in the United States – his father in Pennsylvania and his mother in New York. Although this census records his father as an inspector in the carpet industry, ensuing documents chronicle him as a civil engineer. Furthermore, his father’s first name is listed as Chilton. As stated by the 1925 New York State census, the Price family lived at 129 Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn. Frederic and his brother attended school and his father was a civil engineer. The 1930 federal census notes that the family continued to reside at the Rogers Avenue address and his father was a civil engineer for the War Department.

Details of Price’s early life and renowned baseball career are best depicted on the website “Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice” by Gary Bedingfield, most of which is substantiated by Price’s son, Dan:

Frederic P. Price was educated in Brooklyn at Erasmus Hall High School where he was a three-letter star in baseball, football and soccer. He attended George Washington University, Washington, D.C., where he played baseball and basketball, attracting the attention of New York Giants’ scout Pancho Snyder, and played for the Lormawood Club during the summer. Price left college after his first year and joined the Giants’ spring training camp a Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1937. He was sent to the Greenwood Giants of the Class C Cotton States League for the season and batted .233 in 139 games. The next year – 1938 – he was with the Fort Smith Giants of the Class C Western Association where he hit .277 in 141 games. Price advanced to the Clinton Giants of the Class B Three-I League in 1939, and batted .260. Still with Clinton in 1940, he hit .245 in 115 games and hoped to gain the first base job at Jersey City in the International League the following year.

As per the 1940 federal census, Price and his parents resided at 427 Eastern Parkway. Frederic is recorded as single, twenty-three years old and a baseball player. The transcription inaccurately details that his highest level of education was first grade.

Price entered “Fred” as his first name on his World War II draft card. The card documents that he was twenty-three years old and living at the Eastern Parkway residence.  His father was designated next of kin. His employer was the National Exhibition Company located at 104 West 42nd Street in Manhattan. The registrar’s report, dated October 16, 1940, describes him as 6′ 0″ tall and 180 pounds with brown eyes and hair and a light complexion.

The November 20, 1940 issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle lists his name among 1,917 inductees from Brooklyn and Queens that were to report to the army on November 25, 1940. Beside his name is a “V” indicating he was a volunteer. Another article in the same issue, “Star on Giants’ Farm Team Goes to Bat for Uncle Sam,” reports, “Asked why he volunteered, and thus became one of the first called (to service), Price declared: ‘Well, you’ve got to get the thing over with, and I thought I might as well do it now.’ His enlistment was one year prior to the involvement of the United States in World War II which, according to Bedingfield, “meant serving a year and missing only one season.”

As per Bedingfield’s website:

Private Price was assigned to Camp Upton on Long Island. Following six weeks of basic training he was assigned to Company D at the 122nd Reception Center, Camp Upton, and was detailed to drill recruits in fundamental marching. During this time, he had a few opportunities to play semi-pro baseball with Barton’s Nighthawks. When questioned at the time about whether he ever expected to pick up his baseball career again, Price explained, “If I didn’t love baseball, I think I would stay in the Army for a career. But I don’t think the world would seem right to me if I couldn’t play baseball. When my year is up, I will apply to Commissioner Landis for reinstatement and report back to Bill Terry (Giants manager).”

Price’s participation in baseball activities at Camp Upton is well-documented by The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The June 3, 1941 article, “Camp Upton Nine Ready for Battle with All Comers: May Take on Dodgers in Addition to Teams from Colleges, Forts,” reports that Price shared coaching duties with Sergeant Stanley Kulakowski on the newly organized varsity baseball team. The article continues to relate that a tentative schedule of games was drawn up to play against New York University, St. John’s University, Long Island University, Fort Totten, and Fort Tilden, among others. The August 7, 1941 article, “Unbeaten Upton Nine to Meet Southampton,” details an upcoming game between the Camp Upton team and the Southampton team. The article relates that the Camp Upton team was on a 14-game winning streak and describes Price as the “star of the soldier team.” The August 20, 1941 issue of the newspaper features a photo of the Upton Baseball Squad with Price pictured with his teammates.

By October 1941, Price, having served his one year, was released from active duty. As cited earlier, his intentions were to be reinstated with professional baseball and report back to the Giants. However, due to the attack on Pearl Harbor, this never transpired. As per David Finoli’s book, For the Good of the Country: World War II Baseball in the Major and Minor Leagues:

Price, who had been released in October of 1941 after his one-year commitment, was still in the reserves when he was called back to active duty after Pearl Harbor and sent to the Asian Theater. His baseball record might not have been the thing legends are made from, but his war record was about to be. While fighting on April 10th, 1945 at Cebu in the Philippine Islands, First Lieutenant Fred Price was shot twice, first hit by shrapnel right below the right knee, a second time in the lower stomach.

Dan Price, Frederic’s son, has shared an excerpt from a document signed by Major W. A. Moreland, Adjutant General, describing Frederic’s combat activities:

FIRST LIEUTENANT FREDERIC P. PRICE 01311570, Infantry, United States Army. On 10 April 1945 during the advance to take a strategic hill, Lieutenant Price’s company was subjected to heavy enemy rifle, machine gun and 20 mm gunfire. Due to the nature of the terrain, it was impossible to maneuver troops to either flank of the company and allowed the enemy to concentrate fire on a small area. Lieutenant Price, weapons platoon leader, observing several enemy positions, immediately ordered his platoon into firing positions and went forward to observe the effect of the fire. While crawling to a better observation post, he was seriously wounded in the knee by an enemy 20mm shell. Refusing to leave his post, he continued to direct fire for mortars and machine guns for a period of forty minutes while he was under constant enemy fire.

At the time Frederic sustained his war injuries, he was married to Helen Mildred (Ryan). The couple may have applied for a marriage license in Brooklyn on May 16, 1941, as per the New York City Marriage License Indexes. However, according to information shared by his son, the Prices were married in 1940. 

A Western Union telegram was delivered to Helen on May 5, 1945. This official notice related: “The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your husband 1/Lt Price Frederic P was seriously wounded on Cebu 10 Apr 45. Hospital sending you new address and further information. Unless such new address has been received, address mail for him quote rank, name, serial number.” In his book, Finoli quotes Dan, Frederic’s son, describing the stressful event: “It was a frightening time for my mother. She hadn’t heard from my dad for a month. She didn’t get the letter until May informing her that my dad had been seriously injured and where to send the mail. It was another month before she heard from him again.” According to Finoli, Frederic was hospitalized for two-and one-half months.

As per his son, Price was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service. In listing Price’s awards, Finoli also includes a Philippine Liberation Ribbon. On September 6, 1946, Price was promoted to the rank of captain. According to the American Baseball Bureau Questionnaire completed by Frederic, he served in the infantry from November 1940 to January 1946. In his book, Bedingfield states that Price was honorably discharged on January 14, 1946. Quoting Bedingfield, “Fred Price was the first professional ballplayer to voluntarily enlist for military service during WWII, and holds the distinction of being the longest serving.”

After the war, according to Finoli,

In January of 1946, with his war injuries healed, he came home and reported to the Giants’ spring training camp. Unfortunately, there would be no spot on the team, as the Giants only would offer a position on their AAA minor league club. With a family to worry about, Price did not want to go to the minors again. The war had cost Price what might have been a promising major league career.

Price’s son shares that his father was an employee benefits manager for Equitable Life Insurance Company and then went on to work for SCM Insurance. As per Price’s baseball questionnaire, he liked basketball and fishing and his baseball ambition was “to play in a World Series.” According to his obituary notice in the New York Daily News, Frederic and Helen had three children: Stephen, John and Daniel (Dan). Price passed away in Hillsborough, Florida at the age of seventy-six. Section 86, lot 18066, grave 91.

Helen and Frederic Price
The Prices, later in life.

REINERTSEN, ARNOLD CARL (1921-1991). Corporal (T-5), 116th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion, United States Army. Reinertsen was born in Brooklyn. Records from the 1925 New York State census report that he resided at 4619 5th Avenue with his parents, Nils Gabriel and Anna Marie, an older brother, Reinert, his uncle and cousin, Jack Brown and Jus Abrams, a lodger, Harry Simon, and a roomer, Hilmer Rykipnes. Both parents were born in Norway. Reinertsen’s first name and middle initial are recorded as Carl A. The 1930 federal census states that his family resided at 738 59th Street and his father was a yacht steward. There were no census listings for his uncle, cousin, the lodger, and the roomer. As in the 1925 census, his first name is recorded as Carl. However, he printed and signed his World War II draft card as Arnold Carl Reinertsen. His residence was 449 61st Street, and his mother, residing at that address, was listed as the contact person.  He worked as a clerk for The New York Times, located at 1475 Broadway in Manhattan. The registrar’s report, dated February 15, 1942, notes that he was 6′ tall, weighed 188 pounds, had hazel eyes and blonde hair, a light complexion, with a scar behind his right ear.

Reinertsen’s World War II Army enlistment record states that he was single, had completed three years of high school, and was skilled in general woodworking. His enlistment date was March 6, 1943. The transcription erroneously describes him as 7 ‘3″ tall with a weight of 111 pounds. As per his daughter, he served with the 116th Antiaircraft Artillery (AAA), was stationed in France, Germany and Belgium, and engaged in battles in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge), Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France, and the Rhineland. According to the Battle of the Bulge Association, the 116th AAA Gun Battalion engaged in various heroic activities from June 6, 1944, to December 31, 1944. Since Reinertsen served in this battalion, he may have engaged in the following assignments that it received: June 6, 1944 – defend beach installations on Utah Beach, as a part of the Normandy invasion on D-Day; July 12 to August 4, 1944 – ordered to abandon its antiaircraft mission and assume a tank destroyer role in the Chaumont area; August 6, 1944 – deployed to Mayenne to set up an antiaircraft defense, accomplished its goal, received an emergency request from the 16th Infantry Division to engage in a field artillery mission against the enemy, and saved the 16th Infantry from annihilation; August 25, 1944 – ordered to leave the Mayenne area, arrived in the Paris area two days later, and set up AAA defenses in Paris and at the bridges over the Seine River; September 8, 1944 –moved to Sedan, France, set up AAA defense on the bridges over the Meuse River, but did not engage in any action; September 29 to October 12, 1944 –called upon to protect the locks of the Albert Canal and bridges over the Maas River in Maastrict, Holland; October 12, 1944 –ordered to protect the VII Corps Artillery in Aachen, Germany, and was the first gun battalion to fire on German soil; and December 16, 1944 –continued to support the VII Corps Artillery between Stolberg, Germany and the front lines near the Roer (or Rur) River. Throughout its deployment, the 116th is credited with destroying 32 enemy aircraft.

Reinertsen’s daughter relates that although he was engaged in combat, his letters “…somehow always focused on the more uplifting and positive stories—of staying with a poor family in France and helping their daughter get a piano, etc. In his letters he tried to only convey positive stories to his mother, for example…telling her about the British family in the United Kingdom that took them in for Thanksgiving even though they didn’t have much.” In a letter to his mother, dated December 22, 1943, Reinertsen wrote:

Dear Mom,

Just another letter to let you know I’m still safe and sound, and to ease any worries you might have. The weather is a little snappy, but you know Mom that’s the way we like it around Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, it’s only a few days off. We expect to have some sort of a party, you know Mom, to sort of cheer the boys up and bring them closer to home. Quite a few of my buddies have been invited to some of the homes about here for dinner and such. The people are really trying to be nice to us.

I received a letter from you and Marion yesterday. It sure was swell to hear from home. It sure was swell to hear that Rolf is still working hard and feeling so well. I was surprised to find that Ray is still home. He must know what he’s going to do by now. Maybe after Christmas he’ll do what’s right. Well Mom the lights are going out soon, and there’s no more room so—good night – till tomorrow.

Your Loving Son

Carl

As per his enlisted records and report of separation, Reinertsen was honorably discharged on October 29, 1945. Reinersten’s daughter noted that her father achieved the rank of corporal (T-5), and that he was awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with a Bronze Arrowhead and the Good Conduct Medal. She also shared that although he left Alexander Hamilton High School after the eleventh grade, he earned his high school equivalency after the war. Her father’s primary place of employment after the war was Addressograph Multigraph Corporation in New York, where he worked for 25 to 30 years. Reinertsen married Ida Cecilia Agoglia in 1953 and the couple had two sons and two daughters. According to his daughter, “He was a good and loving father and son.” According to the California death index, he was residing in San Dimas, a suburb of Los Angeles County, at the time of his death. Section 41, lot 36080, grave B.

Reinertsen in field.
Reinertsen at front.
Reinertsen with daughter JoAnn.

REZK, MITCHELL G. (1913-1973). Staff sergeant, 773rd MP Battalion, 4900th Service Command Unit, United States Army. Mitchell was born in Brooklyn in 1913 to George and Amelia (Abourizk) Rezk.  According to the 1915 New York State census, the family also included his father’s brother, Phillip Rezk.  All three adults had immigrated from Syria in 1901. His father was employed as a tailor. Phillip’s occupation is listed as “Embroidery.” In 1916, Mitchell’s brother Victor was born. A second brother, George Jr., may have been born in 1917 or 1918. Another brother, Albert, born in 1919, only survived for two days. The 1925 New York State census reported the family living on Court Street in Brooklyn. Phillip was no longer living with the family, and George Sr. was reported to be in the “Cleaner and Drier” business. 

In 1932, a new business venture on Court Street—Rezk’s Auto Driving School—was announced in the Times Union newspaper. Nineteen-year-old Mitchell was the proprietor. About one year later, an investigative article in the New York Daily News mentioned Rezk’s Auto Driving School among those offering to obtain license plates for a fee. (At the time, no fee was charged for in-person applications at the State office building across the street.) “Saving steps for saps” was the article’s catchy lede.

According to the 1940 federal census, Mitchell and brother Victor were living at home with their parents. Mitchell was working as a bookkeeper and Victor as a clerk. Mitchell registered for the draft in October, 1940, at the age of 27. He was described on his registration card as 5′ 7″ tall, weighing 130 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and a light brown complexion. His employer was Sunnydale Farms, a dairy.

In May 1942, Rezk enlisted in Company C, 14th Regiment, of the New York National Guard, the state militia which had been nationalized with the advent of World War II. (The 14th Regiment Armory, its former home base, still stands, less than a mile from Green-Wood.) A few months later, Mitchell was inducted into the United States Army on August 24. His home address was 632 84th Street in Brooklyn.

Rezk served as a military police sergeant in the 773rd MP (Military Police) Battalion, 4900th Service Command Unit, at Fort MacArthur, in California. He achieved the rank of technician 3rd grade (tec 3), equivalent to a staff sergeant, a non-commissioned officer. The technician rank was created to recognize enlisted soldiers with special, non-combat skills. In his role as staff sergeant, Mitchell supervised clerical work and prepared reports for the outpatient and clinical departments of Fort MacArthur’s medical facility. On February 2, 1946, he was honorably discharged, having received the Good Conduct, American Campaign, and World War II Victory medals.

In June 1944, Mitchell and Alice Lucente obtained a marriage license in Brooklyn. In 1948, their son George was born. By the time of the 1950 federal census, the Rezk family was living on Fort Hamilton Parkway and consisted of Mitchell, Alice, and George, along with Mitchell’s parents and his brother Victor. Mitchell was working for an ice cream company—he had stayed in the dairy business. Victor’s occupation was listed as a clerk in a soda company—a happy pairing, perhaps, in the mind of young George. Mitchell and Alice also raised a daughter, Roberta, born in 1951. Along with ice cream sodas, George and Roberta may have enjoyed the thrills of the famous Coney Island Cyclone, partly owned and managed by their uncle Victor.  He died in Brooklyn. Section R, lot 42537, grave N1.

Mitchell Rezk

RICCIARDI, ANTHONY (1915-1974). Corporal, 158th Infantry Regiment, United States Army. According to the New York City birth index, Ricciardi was born in Brooklyn. Records from the 1920 federal census report that he resided at 418 Lake Street with his parents, Joseph and Concetta. His father immigrated from Italy in 1897, and his mother, also from Italy, immigrated in 1900. His father worked as a shoemaker in a factory. His parents had eight children: Amadeo, Frank, Angelo, Gerard, Carmine, Rocco, Anthony, and Philomena. The 1930 census notes that the family still resided at the Lake Street address. Ricciardi’s father had passed away and his mother was head of household with five children still living with her. His oldest brother, Amadeo, married with a daughter, is documented as the head of a separate household at the same address. Ricciardi’s first name is recorded as Antonio. The 1940 census notes that the twenty-four-year-old Ricciardi was a shoemaker, and still resided on Lake Street with his sister, Philomena, and two brothers. His mother had passed away. The census documents his two brothers, Amadeo and Frank, as separate heads of household.

Ricciardi’s World War II draft card records his residence on Lake Street, his age as twenty-four, and his brother, Frank, as the contact person. He worked at Lippert Brothers Company at 1 Main Street, Brooklyn. The registrar’s report, dated October 16, 1940, notes that he was 5′ 2″ tall, weighed 125 pounds, had gray eyes and brown hair, and a light complexion. The Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem) Death File documents his enlistment date as September 5, 1941. As per his son, he served in the 158th Infantry Regiment, engaged in action in the Philippines on the Bicol Peninsula in southern Luzon and Lingayen Gulf, and “was very proud to have been a Bushmaster.” Those serving in the 158th were known as “Bushmasters.” The 158th Infantry Regiment has a long history. It was formed as the First Arizona Volunteer Infantry and engaged in the Indian Wars and the Mexican Expedition.  On August 5, 1917, the 158th was drafted into federal service.  It was deployed during World War I, World War II, and the war in Afghanistan.

On December 7, 1941, three months after Ricciardi’s enlistment, Pearl Harbor was attacked. The 158th Regiment soon was deployed to Panama to secure the canal and train in jungle warfare. According to the article, “Bushmasters Always Stand Tall,” on the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs website, by Specialist Wesley Parrell, “Arriving in Panama on January 2, 1942, the soldiers of the 158th began an intense training program in the jungles, which were better suited for insects and reptiles than they were for men. For weeks on end, the day’s long rains soaked the soldiers as they hacked through the thick vegetation with machetes, callusing their hands. Frequent dealings with the deadly snakes of the jungle, led to the unit adopting the name “Bushmasters” after the venomous pit vipers found in Central America.” The bushmaster snake became the distinguishing insignia on the shoulder patch of the 158th Regiment. The fighting skills of the “Bushmasters” were so renowned that General Douglas MacArthur personally selected and requested they be sent to his command in the Southwest Pacific Theatre. MacArthur lauded the Bushmasters: “No greater fighting combat team has ever deployed for battle.”

According to the Fort Tuthill Military Museum, the 158th Regiment engaged in major campaigns from December 1944 through May 1945. Since Ricciardi served in this regiment from September 1941 to October 1945, he likely engaged in the following assignments: December 1944 – Arawe, New Britain Island; May 1944 – Wakde Island-Sarmi New Guineas; July 1944 – amphibious assault Noemfoor Island, New Guinea; January 1945 – amphibious assault Lingayan in the Philippine Islands; March 1945 – Batangas Province, Southern Luzon, Philippine Islands; April 1945 – amphibious assaults at Legaspi Southern Luzon, Philippine Islands and Bacon, Sorsogen Province Philippine Islands; May 1945 – Mt. Isarog Bicol Peninsula, Philippine Islands.

The 158th Infantry Regiment engaged in combat zones longer than any National Guard unit in all wars, was the first army unit trained in jungle warfare, was the regiment that traveled furthest in their 5 ½ years of active duty, more than any Army unit in any war, and was the first army unit to be sent overseas after Pearl Harbor.

In 1987, Bushmasters: America’s Jungle of World War II, by Anthony Arthur was published. This book not only details the history of the 158th Infantry Regiment, but also focuses on the personalities of some of the officers and enlisted men. Ricciardi is memorialized in this book in the recounting of an event involving the twenty-seven-year-old Ricciardi who took responsibility for safeguarding a seventeen-year-old fellow soldier, Jimmy Boyer, on the beach at Arawe.

As per the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, Ricciardi was discharged on October 1, 1945. Little is known of his life after the war. His last residence was in Brooklyn. According to the obituary in the New York Daily News, dated April 9, 1974, he was survived by his wife, Louise, and his two children, Anita Murphy and Anthony Jr. Section 137, lot 39369, grave 2.

Insignia of Bushmasters.
Diane and Anthony Ricciardi in 1966.
Ricciardi in 1970s.

 

ROCHFORD, MARTIN XAVIER (1918-1995). Sergeant, 3rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, 3rd Division, United States Army. Martin was born in New York City to Martin Edwin and Anna M. (née Devins) Rochford; his father was born in Ireland while his mother was from New York. According to the 1920 federal census, the Rochfords, including Martin’s older siblings, James and Katherine lived in a rented residence at 613 East 77th Street in Manhattan; Martin’s father worked as a highway paver. By the time of the 1925 New York State census, the family was living at a multi-unit building at 248 East 77th Street. That census indicates that Martin Edwin had been in the United States for 24 years and became a naturalized citizen in 1916. The father was still employed as a paver, his mother was identified as a housewife, and his older brother James was an office boy; two more sons, George and Thomas, had been added to the family. The 1930 census reports that the family was living in their own home (valued at $9,000) at 241 East 35th Street in Brooklyn.  Martin’s father was a highway foreman, James worked as a clerk for the Edison Electric Co. and Catherine worked as a bookkeeper in the banking industry. Although always identified as New Yorkers by birth, Martin’s older siblings, James and Catherine, are listed as being born in Pennsylvania on that document. There were two more children in the family, Francis and Anna.

Martin, the subject of this biography, attended St. Francis Prep, where he was a tackle on the football team and from which he graduated in 1937. His yearbook photo (below) was in The Brooklyn Tablet newspaper announcement and his photo was in Brooklyn Daily Eagle on its sports page on September 17, 1936. In 1940, the family still lived in the East 35th Street house; Martin E. Rochford was an assistant supervisor for the highway department and Martin Xavier was a clerk at a brokerage firm; his two older siblings no longer lived at home.

Rochford registered for the draft on October 16, 1940.  He had a home phone, still lived at the East 35th Street address in Brooklyn, and identified his mother as his next of kin. His draft registration card notes that he was employed by “Sperry’s” at 42 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Brooklyn. The Sperry Corporation was a well-known equipment and electronics company that developed gyroscope-based aviation instruments such as auto-pilots, airborne radar systems, the Ball Turret Gun and bombsights, and was a major military supplier during World War II. According to registrar’s report, Martin had brown hair, gray eyes and a ruddy complexion.  As per his subsequent enlistment record, he was 6′ 4″ tall and weighed 220 pounds. 

On September 9, 1941, Rochford enlisted in the United States Army in Yaphank, New York, when he was 23 years old. A photo of Martin published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on March 17, 1943 when he was home on furlough notes that he was a sergeant; that rank is also recorded on a card with his name from the National Jewish Welfare Board Card which notes that he was wounded during his service. He served with the 3rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, 3rd Division, in North Africa, Sicily, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany. There is a monument to that Battalion in Grove, Oklahoma. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge under the command of General George Patton. Mortar battalions supported infantry divisions and infantry regiments as they went into combat, often staying in the line as infantry units were rotated out of combat and new fresh units came to the front. As per Wikipedia, during the Allied invasion of Sicily in the summer of 1943, the first time the mortar was used in wartime to fire chemicals, 35,000 such rounds were fired in 38 days, of which more than 90% were highly explosive.

In November 1943, Rochford was admitted to the hospital in Italy with a penetrating shrapnel would to his left knee sustained in the line of duty.  As per his hospital admission record, he returned to duty after the shrapnel was removed. For his service, Rochford received numerous awards and medals, including the World War II Medal, Europe- Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal with Arrow Head and Silver Star, Good Conduct Medal, Germany Army Occupation Medal, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, Purple Heart, Rifle Marksman Badge, and the French Croix De Guerre with Bronze Star for action in Monte Casino, Italy. Martin was discharged on June 24, 1945, shortly after his brother, Thomas, was killed in action in the Pacific. Rochford’s son Patrick confirms his father’s service in Europe and Africa.

Martin married Agnes Regina Heavey on May 22, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Martin and Agnes had six children (four daughters and two sons according to Ancestry family trees). The 1950 census indicates that the family, including a daughter, Mary, lived at 389 Schenectady Avenue in Brooklyn and that Martin was a city policeman. Rochford spent 23 years as an officer with the New York Police Department. In 1988, Martin and Agnes lived at 2068 Brown Street in Brooklyn. At the time of his death in 1995, he and Agnes had been married for 47 years; they are buried together at Green-Wood. Section 8, lot 44609, grave 238.

Rochford’s yearbook photo.
Martin Rochford’s medals for World War II.

ROMEO, JOSEPH (or GUISEPPE) (1910-1994). Rank unknown, unit unknown, United States Army.  According to the New York City Birth Index, Romeo was born on September 9, 1910 in Manhattan. His first name is recorded as Giuseppe. As per the 1930 federal census, Joseph lived with his parents, Joseph and Catherine, and two brothers, Louis and Jack. Both of his parents had been born in Italy. Joseph, our subject, worked as an upholsterer in the furniture business. The Romeo family lived at 1159 40th Street in Brooklyn.

As per the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem) Death File, Romeo enlisted in the service on December 21, 1942 and was discharged on December 15, 1945. Although the BIRLS record states that his birth date was August 31, 1910, in contrast to the New York City record, the enlistment and discharge dates are most likely accurate as his Social Security number and date of death on the BIRLS file correspond to other documentation. Unfortunately, there are no records of what branch he served, his unit, or place of service. His son shares that he is a veteran of World War II.

If in fact he sometimes reported a date of birth of August 31, 1910, then he is the Joseph Romeo who registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. At that time, he reported that he was living at 1159 40th Street in Brooklyn. He subsequently updated his Brooklyn address to 1305 38th Street and then 1171 39th Street. He designated his father, also Joseph, as next of kin, and reported that his employer was Harry Danziger on 42nd Street in Manhattan. As per the draft registration card, Romeo was white, 5′ 8″ tall, weighed 145 pounds, had brown hair and eyes, and a dark complexion.

According to the Find-a-Grave website, Romeo was married to Anne, who passed away in 2002. They are interred together at Green-Wood. His last known residence was in Brooklyn. Section 71, lot 44605, grave 78.

ROZZI, ROBERT LOUIS (1920-2007). Private, Infantry, United States Army. According to his World War II draft registration card, Rozzi was born in Mount Vernon, New York.  Although the 1920 federal census pre-dates Robert’s birth, his family history can be gleaned from the document. His parents, Matteo (Matthew) and Josephine, were born in Italy and his father was a foreman in a garage. The couple had three children before Robert was born: Mary, Frank and Thomas. They lived in Mount Vernon and Josephine’s sister, Rose, resided with them.  As per the 1930 federal census, the Rozzi family resided at 2022 65th Street in Brooklyn. This census documents that his father immigrated to the United States in 1903 and his mother immigrated in 1907. The family had grown to five children with the births of Robert and Matthew Jr. His father was an automobile washer and two of his siblings were employed – Mary was a confection saleslady and Frank was a newspaper clerk. His Aunt Rose still lived with the family. The 1940 federal census documents that the family resided at 4401 Avenue J in Brooklyn. Although Rose no longer lived with the family, all the siblings, ranging in ages from 19 to 29, lived in the household. Robert was a chauffeur for a fruit store. As per the New York Marriage License Indexes, Robert and Anne Carlina obtained a marriage license on April 26, 1941 in Brooklyn.

According to Rozzi’s World War II draft registration card, he was twenty-one years old. Under “Place of Residence,” he wrote 1719 67th Street, then updated his address to 1964 67th Street, but left his mailing address as 1719. Robert named his wife as next of kin. His employer was A&D Steel Equipment, located at 147 W. 26th Street in Manhattan. Rozzi’s registrar’s report, dated February 15, 1942, describes him as 5′ 11″ tall and 192 pounds with brown eyes, black hair and a sallow complexion.

Rozzi’s World War II enlistment record details that he was married, had attended one year of high school and entered the service as a private. His enlistment date was December 23, 1943. According to a family member, also named Robert Rozzi, he served in the second wave of infantry at Normandy. He was wounded on August 15, 1944, while in France. As per the World War II Hospital Admission Card files, Robert was admitted in August of 1944 and discharged in October of 1944. He was twenty-four years old at the time and had been serving for about seven months. The admission card records that he served in the infantry. The diagnosis was a wound to the eyeball with a bullet listed as the causative agent. The type of injury is documented as a “casualty in battle in the line of service” and the treatment was “enucleation, simple, eye (removal).” According to the Social Security Death Index, Robert was discharged from the military on June 12, 1945. For his sacrifice and service, Robert received a Purple Heart and the United States Army Combat Infantry Badge. Rozzi’s family source indicates that he was awarded two Purple Hearts.

Little is known about Rozzi’s life after the war. He and his wife were married for over sixty years. The couple had three sons: Matthew, Robert and Frank. Section 186, lot 44662, grave 2.

Robert Rozzi

RUSSO, MICHAEL J. (1917-1999). Coast Guard Intelligence Office, Third Naval District, United States Coast Guard. Russo was born in Brooklyn. The 1920 federal census records that he lived on Catherine Street in Manhattan with his parents, Stephen and Tessie, and his five older siblings: Carmelo, Concetta, Antoinette, Nicholas, and Ida. Both parents were born in Italy. His father, a dock laborer, immigrated in 1904 and his mother immigrated in 1907.

The 1925 New York State census documents that the family had moved to Gravesend Avenue in Brooklyn. Carmelo no longer resided with the family and the remaining five children, ranging in age from eight to eighteen, attended school. As per the 1930 federal census, his father was a naturalized citizen and a longshoreman at Pier 23 in Manhattan. Four of the six siblings lived with their parents on Gravesend Avenue. Catherine was a bookmaker in a bindery, Nicholas was a painter, and Ida and Michael attended school. As per the 1940 federal census, the family had moved to 60th Street in Brooklyn. In the household were Russo’s parents, his sister, Catherine, his brother and sister-in-law, Nicholas and Helen, and Michael.

According to Russo’s World War II draft registration card, he was twenty-three years old. Under “Place of Residence,” 2302 60th Street was written and subsequently changed to 1531 McDonald Avenue. His mother was named next of kin and he worked for General Motors Corporation, located at 1723 Broadway.  His accompanying registrar’s report, dated October 16, 1940, describes him as 5′ 8″ and 157 pounds with blue eyes, brown hair and light complexion.

Little is known about Russo’s military service. The aforementioned New York Times obituary states: “He served in World War II in the United States Coast Guard Intelligence Office in the Third Naval District and was awarded the Purple Heart.”

It is possible some of Russo’s responsibilities were similar to those described in the United States Coast Guard website’s document, “Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS)”:

During World War II, in an ongoing effort to minimize sabotage and espionage, CGI agents were concerned with internal and domestic intelligence and counterintelligence.  CGI’s purpose at that time was to secure, evaluate, and disseminate information pertaining to Coast Guard and maritime matters.  This included assisting in identifying known and potential enemy agents and sympathizers.  Investigations of military personnel, including those employed or controlled by the Coast Guard, were also conducted.  CGI personnel were also involved with counterintelligence support for the war effort in many critical ports throughout the United States.

These efforts by CGI personnel and port security officers paid off – there were no known successes of foreign-inspired sabotage on vessels or waterfront facilities during WWII. 

After the war, Russo sailed on a few cruises. A Puerto Rico Arriving Passenger List documents that he sailed on the SS Borinquen from New York on October 31, 1947, and arrived in San Juan on November 4, 1947. A New York Arriving Passenger List records that he sailed on the same ship from San Juan on November 7, 1947 and arrived in New York City on November 11, 1947. A United States Virgin Island Passenger List notes that he sailed from New York on April 9, 1948 to St. Thomas aboard the Alcoa Cavalier.

The 1950 federal census documents that Michael lived with his parents on McDonald Avenue and is described as “unable to work.” As per the New York Departure Passenger Lists, Michael left New York for San Juan on the SS Frances on March 4, 1954 with the intent to remain on the island for several weeks. Citing his New York Times obituary, “He was appointed by President Roosevelt as a court reporter to the United States Court of International Trade and retired as its Chief Court Reporter in 1972. He was also a Veteran of Foreign Wars and was Commander of the Colonel Francis Vigo Post.” According to the United States Social Security Death Index, his last known residence was in Miami, Florida. Crypt, Garden Mausoleum, 134A.

RYGG, ANDREAS (or ANDREW) N. (1868-1951). Treasurer of the Eastern Division of American Relief for Norway during World War II. According to the English translation of “Andreas Nilsen Rygg” in the Norwegian Biographical Encyclopedia, he was born on August 15, 1868, in Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway. Within the vast amount of documentation on Rygg, he was referred to as either Andreas or Andrew.

As per the 1900 federal census, Andreas lived with his wife, their two children, and his brother in Chicago. He had immigrated from Norway in 1889, became a naturalized citizen, and was an advertising assistant. The 1910 federal census records that Andreas, his wife, and their children lived on 54th Street in Brooklyn and he was an editor. According to the 1915 New York State census, Andrew and his family lived on 52nd Street. The September 12, 1918 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that “Olaf N. Hertzwig, Rasmus M. Michelsen and Andreas N. Rygg of Brooklyn appear as directors of the Olaf Hertzwig Trading Company, Incorporated, of Manhattan, capitalized at $100,000.”

As per the 1920 federal census and the 1925 New York State census, the family still resided on 52nd Street. The Norwegian Biographical Encyclopedia’sarticle details more information about Rygg from 1900 through 1929:

Andreas was employed by the Norwegian American Magazine of Scandinavia in Chicago from 1900 to 1912 and Nordisk Tilende in Brooklyn from 1912 to 1929 . . . . He started with charity work (in Brooklyn), and in 1909, he became secretary and from 1911 through 1921, he was chairman of the Norwegian Orphanage. In 1915, he was elected to the board of the Norwegian Hospital in Brooklyn, and in 1922, he became chairman.

In an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, dated November 6, 1929, the newspaper reports that Rygg retired as editor of Nordiske Tidende and was celebrated with a testimonial dinner at the Norwegian Club. About fifty people attended his dinner and “lauded the guest, not alone for his successful administration of Nordiske Tidende since his inception as editor in 1912, but for the countless humanitarian acts which oft-times escaped attention.”

As per his obituary in the September 22, 1951 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Rygg was the organizer and treasurer of the Eastern Division of American Relief for Norway in World War II.  A database from the Norwegian-American Historical Association has a collection of papers from the organization from 1940 to 1946. The website describes the association as follows:

Papers of an association incorporated ten days after the invasion of Norway during World War II. Founded to “relieve distress” among the people of Norway, it was officially dissolved December 31, 1946. Correspondence, reports, and publicity material fall into five categories: clothing drive files, executive secretary’s files, president’s files, treasurer’s files, and corporate records. Topics treated include clothing drives; collection of funds; purchase and distribution of food, clothing, shoes, drugs; publicity; problems of storage and transportation; relations with governments; merging of relief agencies; affiliation with the National War Fund; women’s activities; tools for Finmark; and the Anfin O. Sather trust fund for the National Association of Norwegian Agricultural Clubs.

The collection consists of 44 archives boxes. Rygg’s correspondence is contained in box 7, folder #34 under the description “Executive Secretary Files: New York (Rodney T. Martinsen, State Chairman. Dr. A. N. Rygg, State Treasurer and Director). These papers range from 1941 to 1944.

As per the aforementioned obituary,

Dr. Rygg was active in Bay Ridge civic and cultural affairs, particularly in the Scandinavian-American community. His activities resulted in his receiving an honorary LL. D degree from St. Olaf College, Minnesota, and Norway’s Order of St. Olaf with a commander’s rank…He wrote two books: Norwegians in New York, 1825-1925 and American Relief for Norway.

Rygg passed away following a brief illness. Section 134, lot 29725, grave 698.

Andreas Rygg

SABATINO (or SABATINE), DOMINICK (1919-2011). Private first class, Infantry, United States Army.  According to the 1920 census, Dominick’s father, Alfred, was born in Italy, immigrated to the United States in 1911, and was a private chauffeur. His mother, Mary, was born in Manhattan. The couple’s two children, Mary and Dominick, were born in New York City. The 1930 census records that the family resided on West 7th Street in Brooklyn and his father was taxicab chauffeur. The family had grown to five children with the births of his brother, Frank, and sisters, Anna and Rose. As per the 1940 census, the family’s residence was 187 Avenue U in Brooklyn. The census records that this residence was a two-family home where the eldest daughter and her husband lived in one section and the rest of the Sabatino family, consisting of the parents and younger children, lived in another section.  His father was the owner of an undertaker business and the twenty-one-year-old Sabatino worked as a bookbinder.

Sabatino’s New York National Guard Service Card records that he enlisted on April 12, 1937, served in the 244th Coast Artillery, and was honorably discharged on April 11, 1940. His last name is documented, incorrectly, as “Sabatine,” and his date of birth is mistakenly recorded as June 23, 1918; the United States Social Security Death Index lists his birth date as June 28, 1919. According to his enlistment record for World War II, he enlisted on September 16, 1940, was 5′ 6″ and weighed 138 pounds. The record also documents that he completed two years of high school and his civil occupations were in laundering, cleaning, dyeing, and pressing apparel. The branch he was assigned was transcribed as Coast Artillery Corps or Army Mine Planter Service. His date of birth is recorded as 1918 and his last name as “Sabatine.” According to his daughter-in-law, Sabatino met his future wife, Cottie “Evelyn” Hodges, in Virginia Beach while he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in Virginia. As per their certificate of marriage, they married on July 3, 1941. This document also records his last name as “Sabatine.” His draft card indicates that his address was 323 Avenue U, Brooklyn, he was 26 years old, and his mother was his contact person. His birthdate is recorded as June 23, 1919, and his last name is spelled “Sabatine.” The registrar’s report, dated August 18, 1945, documents him as 5′ 7″ tall, 155 pounds, with blue eyes, brown hair, and sallow complexion.

Little is known about his military service other than he served in the infantry and was stationed at Fort Pendleton. According to his obituary in the Daily News, dated August 2, 2011, he served as lieutenant governor of the Kiwanis and as exalted ruler of the Order of Elks. His wife predeceased him, and the couple had one son, Donald. As per his family, he was known as “Danny,” resided at 323 Avenue U in Brooklyn for over seventy years, and owned the Sabatino Funeral Home, located at the same address, for over 45 years.  Section 33, lot 45115, grave 2.

Dominick Sabatino with wife and family.
Sabatino, left, at Kiwanis Club.
Sabatino Funeral Home on Avenue U in Brooklyn.

SALAZAR, JOSEPH (or GIUSEPPE) (1920-1994). Corporal, 115th Antiaircraft Artillery, D Battery, United States Army. According to the New York City birth index, Salazar was born in Manhattan and his first name is recorded as “Giuseppe.” The 1930 census documents that his family resided on 86th Street in Brooklyn. His father, Casamero, was born in Italy and was a laborer in the furniture business. His mother, Mary, was also born in Italy. Salazar had one younger brother, Dominick, and two younger sisters, Rose and Madeline, all born in Manhattan. The 1940 census records that the family was residing on Bay 26th Street in Brooklyn. His father’s occupation was watchman with a salary of $1,300. Both Salazar and his brother are listed as electricians, each with a salary of $250.   The Brooklyn marriage license record notes that Salazar married Sophie Rosalie Schwartz on April 3, 1941. The couple had two daughters, Marie and Linda.

Salazar’s World War II draft card states that he was 21 years old and that his father was his contact person. He was employed as a bit gauger for R. Hoe Company located at 138th Street and Cypress Avenue in the Bronx. His World War II Army enlistment record, dated March 26, 1943, states that he was married, had completed three years of high school, and was a chauffeur and “driver of bus, taxi, truck and tractor.”  This record erroneously reports his height as 22 and weight as 093. As per his daughter, he served with the 115th Antiaircraft Artillery (AAA), D Battery, under the 3rd army (General George Patton’s command). He enlisted as a private and rose to the rank of corporal during his service. He took part in the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944 and fought in France at the Battle of the Bulge from December 16, 1944 through January 1, 1945. Salazar’s daughter, Linda, recalls, “He drove a truck and jeep named Sophie after my mother. He was in the Battle of the Bulge. He was ordered by his commanding officer to advance down a road that had not yet been cleared. He advanced, but he drove backwards, and a mine exploded. He was wounded in his leg. He was so eager to leave the service, he left the hospital immediately after returning to the United States, not even waiting for his wounds to heal. There was no report done for his Purple Heart. He introduced both my uncles – one from the same regiment and a friend from the Navy – to his sisters and they were married.” After the war, Salazar owned and drove a taxi for over forty years. Section 24, lot 4586.

Salazar with wife, Sophie.
Salazar, later in life.
Joseph and Sophie Salazar.

SARUNICH, GEORGE (1921-2015). Motor machinist’s mate first class, Torpedo Boat Squadron 4, United States Navy. Sarunich was born in Brooklyn as recorded in that borough’s birth index. As per the 1930 census, Sarunich lived with his parents, Marijam and Mary, and his older siblings, Nicholas and Helen, at 214 32nd Street in Brooklyn. That census indicates that his father was born in Dalmatia, Austria, and his mother was born in Poland; other documents give different birthplaces for his parents. His father worked as a longshoreman. The New York City death certificate index reports that on July 27, 1933, his brother Nicholas passed away at the age of thirteen due to a head injury. That index states that his mother was born in Austria. The 1940 census notes that the nineteen-year-old Sarunich and his family resided on 3rd Avenue, and that Sarunich had completed four years of high school. His father’s birthplace is listed as Yugoslavia.

Sarunich’s World War II registration card records that he was twenty-one years old, resided at 5013 3rd Avenue and his mother was named as next of kin. He worked at the Bush Terminal Buildings, Numbers 7 and 8, on 34th Street and 3rd Avenue. According to the muster roll of the crew for the USS Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 26, Sarunich enlisted in the Navy on March 11, 1942. His rank was motor machinist’s mate 2nd class and some of his responsibilities may have been operating and maintaining ship propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment and outside machinery. He served with this squadron from March 1943 to April 1945 and also served with another torpedo boat squadron. The National Parks Service describes PT boats as “small, fast, and expendable vessels for short range oceanic scouting, armed with torpedoes and machine guns for cutting enemy supply lines and harassing enemy forces. Forty-three PT squadrons, each with 12 boats were formed during World War II by the U. S. Navy.” Torpedo Boat Squadron 26 was assigned to the Hawaiian Sea Frontier and did not see any action. From May 1945 to November 1945, Sarunich was assigned to Torpedo Boat Squadron 4. According to the Report of Changes, dated May 31, 1945, he had been promoted to motor machinist’s mate 1st class. This squadron trained others in Rhode Island. There is no record of Sarunich’s discharge date. After the war, he married Louise (Luisa) Pastore on March 29, 1945, and the couple had two children. He died in Brooklyn. Section 8, lot 44609, grave 259.

SAWAYA, GEORGE A. (1910-1972) Petty officer 3rd class, United States Navy. George Sawaya was born in the United States to Albert and Mary, immigrants from Turkey. According to the 1915 New York State census, the family (including older brother, Nicholas and younger brother, James) was living in Olean, New York, in Cattaraugus County. Albert Sawaya was employed by the Stillman Oil Refinery.

By the 1920 federal census, however, the three brothers were listed as “inmates” at the Home for the Friendless, in the Bronx. The listing notes that their parents’ original language was Albanian. It’s not clear what happened to his father or how the brothers came to live at the Home, but in 1923 their mother married again, to George Jebaily, the proprietor of a kimono manufacturing company, who may have come to the United States from Syria. By the time of the 1930 federal census, George and his brothers, having long since left the Home, were living with their mother and stepfather in Brooklyn, along with two young half-sisters. George and his older brother were working for their stepfather as cost clerks.

According to the 1940 census, 29-year-old George Sawaya was living on 79th Street in Brooklyn with his wife, Esther (née Dahir), and working as a pattern-maker in the needlework industry (his stepfather’s business). Although the census reported that his education ended after the eighth grade, his family adds that George had earned his high school diploma around 1930 by attending night classes at Bay Ridge High School.

In October 1940, just a week short of his 30th birthday, Sawaya registered for the draft. (According to the Selective Training and Service Act of September, 1940, all men between the ages of 21 and 35 were required to register.) However, he wasn’t inducted into the Navy until October 1943. According to his family, he was at sea from June 1944 until the end of the war, in August 1945.

Sawaya served on the USS Bataan, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Pacific, during the “island-hopping” campaign that wrested control of Japanese air bases from the enemy and brought United States forces within bombing range of Japan. In the spring of 1945, Bataan, with Sawaya aboard, participated in the Battle of Okinawa, a nearly three-month-long action, perhaps the costliest operation of the entire war in terms of lives lost. The war ended some weeks later, after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leading to the Japanese surrender.

Sawaya mustered out of the Navy on November 1, 1945, and resumed civilian life with his wife and two children, working in garment-making. He died of leukemia at age 61, according to his granddaughter, who added that his wartime exposure to toxic chemicals may have played a role in his death.  Section 128, lot 364, grave 1.

Esther and George Sawaya with their niece.
Sawaya is at right.
Sawaya in 1936.
Sawaya in late 1960s.

SAYEGH, GEORGE (1918-1982). Sergeant, 592nd Army Air Force Base, Army Air Corps, United States Army. According to the 1925 New York State census, Sayegh lived with his parents, Bashir and Ela, his older brother, Elia, and his younger siblings, Albert and Frances, at 197 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. The census indicates that his parents were born in Syria, his older brother in Argentina, and he and his other siblings in the United States. His father, whose first name was erroneously spelled as “Beashir,” worked as a silk weaver. Also residing at the address was the Shuda family, namely, Habbib and Regina with their two sons and two daughters. The 1940 federal census notes that the twenty-one-year-old Sayegh resided at 200 Prospect Park West with his father, mother, and three younger siblings – Albert, Agnes, and Edward. His brother, Elia, and sister, Frances, are not included in that report. In the transcription, his father’s first name is spelled “Baker,” and his mother is referred to as “Helen.”

By 1939, Sayegh had completed the seventh grade, was a truck driver, and earned $360 for 36 weeks of work. The 1940 census indicates that Sayegh was born in Rhode Island. However, Sayegh’s World War II draft card documents that he lived at 1218 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, his place of birth was Summit, New Jersey, and his next of kin was his mother. He may have been self-employed or owned his own business as he listed himself as his employer with the business located at 2 West 28th Street in Manhattan. His registrar’s report, dated October 16, 1940, describes him as 5′ 2″ tall, 190 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair and a light complexion.

The World War II Army enlistment records indicate that Sayegh enlisted on March 23, 1943, with the rank of private.  His civil occupation is recorded as “semi-skilled chauffeur and driver, bus taxi, truck, and tractor.” His height and weight are inaccurately transcribed at 45” tall and 74 pounds. According to the World War II hospital admission card files, he was admitted to an army hospital during January 1944 for “pilonidal cyst or sinus.” There is no specific discharge date other than the recorded year of “1944.”

As per his daughter, Mary Ann, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, served in the 592nd Army Air Force Base Unit, and was stationed in England and Morocco, North Africa. His daughter shared that he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon, and the American Theater Ribbon. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem) Death File documents his discharge date as November 28, 1945.

The New York City marriage license index records that Sayegh and his future wife, Margaret Adele Sabbagh, applied for a marriage license on January 31, 1948.  According to his daughter, they were married on January 31, 1948, and had five children. In his civilian life, Sayegh owned a trucking company for over thirty-five years. Section N, lot 43163, grave 1.

George and Margaret Sayegh

SCHWER, HOWARD JULIUS (1913-1991). Corporal, United States Army. Schwer was born in Brooklyn and is the older brother of Roy (see). The 1920 census reports that he lived with his parents and brother on 10th Street in Brooklyn; his father, a German immigrant, became a naturalized citizen in 1898, five years after his arrival in the United States and worked as a plumbing contractor. The 1930 census reports that the family lived on 82nd Street in Brooklyn. On June 27, 1930, Schwer’s graduation from Manual Training (now John Jay) High School was featured in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle; he was awarded the medal for perfect attendance and punctuality. The 1940 census shows that the family lived at 475 82nd Street in Brooklyn, had a lodger and that Howard was a law clerk.

As per his draft registration card, he lived at 475 82nd Street, listed his mother as next of kin and worked for a law firm on 17th Street in Brooklyn. His registrar’s report indicates that he was 5′ 10½” tall and weighed 165 pounds, with blue eyes, blonde hair and a light complexion. His World War II enlistment record shows that he enlisted as a private at New York City on February 12, 1943. He was a salesperson who had completed four years of college, was white and single. Howard Schwer’s military service is confirmed by an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on March 9, 1944. That article notes that Corporal Howard Schwer of 575 82nd Street was at Camp Lee, Virginia, after a furlough and was a recipient of the Good Conduct Medal; the address noted is incorrect in that the family lived at 475 82nd Street. That same article notes that Roy Schwer, a private first class, was stationed in England, also held the Good Conduct Medal and was the recipient of the European Campaign Ribbon.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on April 19, 1948, that Englebert Schwer, Roy’s father, died and would be interred at Green-Wood; that same paper reported on March 5, 1950, that Julia, Roy’s mother, died suddenly; she is interred with her husband. According his brother’s marriage announcement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on May 13, 1951, which incorrectly identified the groom as Roy Howard Schwer, Howard Schwer was the best man. As per his death certificate, he was married to Marci (Marcia), worked as a manager at Tiffany & Company, was a college graduate, and lived at 476 Lane B Comanche in Stratford, Connecticut. He is buried with his parents, wife, brother and sister-in-law. Section 178, lot 37989, grave 1.

SCHWER, ROY IRVING (1918-2006). Private first class, United States Army. A Brooklynite by birth, Roy Schwer was the younger brother of Howard (see). At the time of the 1920 census, Roy lived with his parents and brother on 10th Street in Brooklyn; his father, a German immigrant, became a naturalized citizen in 1898, five years after his arrival in the United States and worked as a plumbing contractor. The 1930 census reports that the family lived on 82nd Street in Brooklyn and that their neighbors were the Larsens, the family of Roy’s future wife, Florence.

On January 30, 1937, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle featured an article on Roy’s graduation from Manual Training (now John Jay) High School. That article focused on the speech given to the graduates by William Slater, the headmaster of Adelphi Academy, who had just returned from Europe where he had broadcast the Olympic games in Berlin and where he had visited many schools. Slater noted that enrollment in German universities had declined 50 percent and that American students should take a more active interest in politics. Slater told the graduates, “It is not how much you get out of the country that counts, it’s how much you give it.” The family lived at 475 82nd Street when the 1940 census was taken and a lodger lived with the Schwers.

At the time he filed his draft registration card, Roy lived at 475 82nd Street in Brooklyn, had a home telephone, listed his mother, Julia, with whom he lived, as his next of kin and worked for the Brooklyn Trust Company at 7428 Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. His registrar’s report states that he was white, stood 6′ tall, weighed 165 pounds and had blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion.

He enlisted as a private at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, on February 6, 1942. As per his World War II enlistment record, he was single, a U. S. citizen, had completed four years of high school, worked as a clerk in a financial institution, was 5′ 10″ tall and weighed 155 pounds, and was assigned to the Army. His enlistment was for the duration of the war plus another six months subject to the discretion of the President. An article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on March 9, 1944, notes that his brother, Corporal Howard Schwer of 575 82nd Street, was at Camp Lee, Virginia, after a furlough and was a recipient of the Good Conduct Medal; the address noted is incorrect in that the family lived at 475 82nd Street. That same article notes that Roy Schwer, a private first class, was stationed in England, and held the Good Conduct Medal and the European Campaign Ribbon. As per Roy’s engagement and marriage announcements in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, he served overseas for three years with the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He was discharged on October 20, 1945.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on April 19, 1948, that Englebert Schwer, Roy’s father, died and would be interred at Green-Wood; that same paper reported on March 5, 1950, that Julia, Roy’s mother, died suddenly; she is interred with her husband. On May 21, 1950, Roy became engaged to Florence Larsen; their engagement was announced in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Ms. Larsen, a graduate of Fort Hamilton High School, attended Pratt Institute and was active in Girl Scouts. The engagement announcement confirms Roy Schwer’s World War II service and his three years with the Army Corps of Engineers. Schwer and Ms. Larsen obtained a marriage license in Brooklyn on April 14, 1951; they married on May 12 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Brooklyn. According to their marriage announcement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on May 13, 1951, which incorrectly identified the groom as Roy Howard Schwer, the reception was held at the Larsen home and Howard Schwer was the best man. That article, which confirms Roy’s World War II service in Europe, reports that the bride was a graduate of the Pratt Institute of Home Economics and the groom was a graduate of Cooper Union.

In 1981, he lived at 475 82nd Street, his childhood home. Phone records from 1993-2002 show that he still lived at that address. He last lived in Brooklyn, presumably at that same residence. Section 178, lot 37989, grave 3.

SCONZO, LAWRENCE (or LORENZO) JOSEPH (1912-1996). Major and medical officer, 23rd Engineers, 3rd Armored Division, United States Army. Sconzo was born in Brooklyn; birth records show that he was originally named Lorenzo. At the time of the 1920 census, the Sconzo family was living on Union Street in Brooklyn; Lawrence’s parents, Frank and Elizabeth née DiGiovanna, were Italian-born and Frank, a grocer, was a naturalized citizen. Living in the household were seven children, Lawrence’s older brothers Francis and Joseph, and younger siblings Thomas, Fannie, Charles and Rose. In addition, Frank’s parents and their son were living with them. The 1925 New York State census reports that there were two more children, Dorothy and Angeliza; Lawrence was in school, his grandmother still lived with the family on Union Street and his uncle and his wife lived next door.

The family still lived on Union Street in 1930 and Frank Sconzo was a grocery storekeeper; their home was valued at $5,500. There were three more children, James, Frank Jr. and Mary. An article, “Speaking of Grandpas,” on October 24, 1930, in the Brooklyn Times Union reported that Frank Sconzo, age 42, the father of 12 children and grandfather of two, claimed that he was the head of the largest family in Brooklyn and was the youngest grandfather in Brooklyn when he was 37. That article went on to state that when Frank visited Italy for the fourth time since moving to the United States, he showed Premier Benito Mussolini as picture of his family and was the recipient of a letter from Mussolini congratulating him. His obituary notes that there were ultimately 14 children in the family.

As per his obituary in a Glens Falls newspaper, the Post-Star (Queensbury, New York), Lawrence was the first in his family to graduate high school; he graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. In 1932, Lawrence was a freshman pre-med student at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. He was in a fraternity and belonged to the Pre-Med Club, the Italo-Americano Club and “Il Europa.” His obituary states that he attended medical school at Flower Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The 1940 census records that the family was still living at 437 Union Street in Brooklyn. Lawrence, identified as a physician, and 10 other children were living at home along with both of his grandmothers; the father was employed as a hardware salesman. On October 10, 1940, Lawrence Sconzo and Irma Nasti obtained a marriage license in Brooklyn. Dr. Sconzo and his wife had six children.

According to his obituary, he was a medical officer for the 23rd Engineers of the 3rd Armored Division during World War II. As per his son, Dr. John M. Sconzo, his father took part in the Normandy invasion, the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of concentration camps; that information is validated in his obituary. He was discharged as a major. The 3rd Armored Division was commanded by Major General Maurice Rose and is often confused with the Third Army, commanded by General George S. Patton. The 3rd Armored Division had a distinctive triangular shoulder patch in yellow, blue and red signifying the cavalry, field artillery and infantry. A spearhead flash symbol was authorized by Rose after the division’s drives through France, Belgium and Germany in 1944 and 1945.

After the war, Lawrence resumed his general medical practice in Brooklyn, specializing in obstetrics. On September 9, 1955, Dr. and Mrs. Sconzo were on the manifest of the SS Nassau as first-class passengers on a vacation to Puerto Rico. He retired from medicine in 1977. In 1986, the Sconzos moved to Port Charlotte, Florida. He was listed as a resident of 19506 Quesada Avenue in Port Charlotte in 1993; his wife of 51 years died the year before. As per his obituary, he died at a residence in Gansevoort in South Glen Falls, New York; he lived near his son in South Glens Falls (Queensbury) the last year of his life. He was survived by his children, Frank, Lawrence Jr., Elizabeth, Gregory, Paul, Dr. John of Queensbury, eight grandchildren, eight siblings, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Prior to his burial at Green-Wood, a Mass of Christian Burial took place at St. Saviour’s Church on 6th Street in Brooklyn. The family asked that donations be sent to the American Diabetes Association. Section 40439, Niche, Columbarium.

Newspaper photo of Frank Sconzo and family, 1930.
Lawrence and Charles Sconzo
Irma and Lawrence Sconzo in Bermuda.
Dr. Lawrence Sconzo, later in life.

SEGERDELL JR., ARTHUR LESTER (1910-1980). Rank unknown, unit unknown, United States Army. Arthur was born to father Arthur Lester Segerdell Sr., and mother, Ada C. Segerdell, in Brooklyn. According to the 1910 federal census, Arthur was an infant, an only child, and lived on Prospect Place with his parents. His father was 21 years old and worked as a clerk in an office. Ada was 23 years old with no occupation. By 1920, the family was living on 72nd Street. Arthur Jr. was 9 years old, and had two younger brothers, Robert, 6 years old, and Albert, an infant. Arthur’s father, a hardware salesman throughout his life, was a hardware commercial traveler.

By 1930, the family had moved to 1026 81st Street in Brooklyn. They owned their home. Arthur Jr. was 20 years old and worked as a clerk in a department store. Robert was 17 years old and worked as a mail clerk at a bank. Albert was 11 years old and in school.

According to the 1940 federal census, Arthur Jr. was 30 years old, and worked as a salesman at a men’s clothing store. At the time of his World War II draft registration card, signed October 16, 1940, Segerdell worked at Bond Stores, Inc. at 60 East 42nd Street in Manhattan. He was 5′ 7″ tall, 130 pounds, with blue eyes, blond hair, and a light complexion. “Name And Address Of Person Who Will Always Know Your Address” was his father. The family address listed was changed to 910 81st Street, as Arthur Jr. had married Dorothy MacKenzie on his birthday in 1942 in Brooklyn.

Arthur Segerdell Jr. enlisted as a private on December 18, 1942, in the United States Army. According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, in 1943 he completed basic training at Camp Roberts in San Miguel, California. He was honorably discharged on October 14, 1944. By 1950 he continued to live at the same address on 81st Street with his wife and worked as a salesman at a retail clothing store. He passed away March 19, 1980 at the age of 70. Dorothy passed away in 1985. They are interred together at Green-Wood Cemetery. Section 188, lot 19025.

Arthur Segerdell Jr.

SELLERS, JAMES (1921-1979). Machinist’s mate, first class petty officer, United States Navy. According to the 1925 New York State census, James lived with his parents, Henry and Emma, and three older siblings, Thomas, Donald, and Genevieve, at 4712 New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn. His father worked as an auto mechanic.  The 1930 census records the family’s address as 861 48th Street, Brooklyn. His father was superintendent of an apartment building. As per his son, Sellers graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School. The 1940 census notes that Sellers lived at 725 53rd Street with his parents and older brother, Donald. James was nineteen years old and attended New York University. According to the New York Marriage License Bureau, he and his future wife, Catherine (Kay) Schmielan, applied for a license on January 14, 1943, and were married on January 17, 1943. His World War II draft card indicates that he was twenty-four years old and lived with his wife at 828 71st Street. His wife is listed as next of kin and no employer is identified. The registrar’s report, dated November 5, 1945, describes him as 5′ 10″ tall, 140 pounds, with brown eyes, blond hair, and a ruddy complexion.

During his wartime service, Sellers was assigned to three ships: the USS Omaha, the USS New Jersey, and the USS Naifeh. His United States Navy muster roll states that he began his tour of duty on the USS Omaha on March 20, 1941. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command website, this light cruiser was docked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard for repairs from May 17, 1941, through June 25, 1941. The Omaha departed June 30, 1941, to conduct neutrality patrols between the Brazilian ports of Recife and Ascension Island. The main duty of her crewmembers was to “intercept, board, and inspect vessels to enforce a blockade against German trade in the region.” On November 6, 1941, the Omaha and the destroyer Somers captured the 5,098-ton German blockade runner, Odenwald, off the Brazilian coast. On May 23, 1943, Sellers was transferred to the newly commissioned battleship, USS New Jersey. The crew received its training in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean Seas. On January 7, 1944, the USS New Jersey passed through the Panama Canal on its way to Funafuti, Ellice Islands. Crewmembers took part in battles at the Marshall Islands, Majuro, New Guinea (supporting General Douglas MacArthur’s landings), the Marianas, and the Battle of the Philippine Seas (June 1944). Sellers was reassigned to the USS Naifeh, a destroyer escort, on July 4, 1944. He may have been onboard when the Naifeh escorted convoys to Europe and North Africa. He remained on this ship until his discharge on October 31, 1945.

Sellers received three promotions throughout his wartime enlistment. According to his Report of Changes, Sellers earned three promotions. Starting as a fire controlman, petty officer 3rd class, he was promoted to fire controlman, petty officer 2nd class on May 1, 1942. Fire controlmen operate, repair and trouble-shoot weapon systems on ships. On November 1, 1942, he was promoted to machinist’s mate, petty officer 2nd class, and then earned his final promotion to machinist’s mate, petty officer 1st class on September 1, 1943.

As per the Department of Veterans Affairs Death Files, Sellers re-enlisted in the Navy on October 4, 1947. He sustained an injury on the USS Enterprise in 1952. He wrote the following story of the injury he sustained and his recuperation:

On March 28, 1952, I was a sailor stationed in Bayonne, New Jersey and sent to report to the Naval ship, Enterprise, an aircraft carrier which was one of the best during World War II. The ship had been in “moth balls” for a number of years and rotting in the harbor. Upon my arrival, my superior officer gave me orders to open up the covers that seal the gas tanks. I had insisted that my men not go down to the bottom of the tanks because of the possibility of escaping gases. When all the hatches were open, I told them just to look down to see if they detected any gas. Neither of us could and it appeared as if everything was alright. I, as senior man, stayed back to make sure everything was okay and with my men already up the ladder and away from the hole, I glanced down and noticed two men at the bottom of the tank. It seemed as if they were trying to clean the rust down there. I shouted to them but they could not hear me. I felt something was wrong and immediately sounded the alarm and went down to them. They were unconscious when I reached them but I tried to carry one on my shoulder. His weight shifted knocking me off the ladder and pinning me down with the other two men in the hole. The navy yard workers responded quickly, and the Naval Chief Petty Officer went down to try and revive us. I had only a few seconds of life left. A rope was tied around me and I was hauled up and taken by ambulance to St. Albans Naval Hospital. I regained consciousness the following day, wondering what had happened. I was told at this time, I should have received last rites, as I was that close to death.

During this time, my wife received a telegram stating that I had been injured. However, when she received the telegram, I had no idea she was having her share of misery. She almost died due to a kidney ailment requiring her immediate entry into the hospital as her system was filling with fluid, slowly reaching her heart. It took quite a bit of medical care to make her well. That put the two of us in the same hospital at the same time…

The actual impact of my accident did not take effect until about 9 or 10 days later. One day when I was visiting the chaplain, I became dizzy and nauseous and finally collapsed. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in a ward of a hospital. I thought I had just fainted until someone said I was in Philadelphia Mental Hospital. I remember being taken into a room where there was a group of doctors and hearing one doctor, dressed in civilian clothes, saying that it might be a year of two before I would even speak again. I could hear what he was saying but his words sounded ridiculous.

When my father came to visit me I did not know who he was. The only thing I recognized was a watch I had given him years ago.

I was put into a closed ward in a “quiet” room because I was not able to eat. Everything seemed so hazy and far away. My loss of appetite caused me to dwindle down to 95 pounds. Only after some time of drinking milk and other liquids did I regain my strength and most of my weight. It seemed as if I had been in that room for months when in fact it was only a week or so. My coordination was extremely poor; I never felt so helpless and frustrated. The time spent in that room was a nightmare. It was very dark and dreary and always felt musty and cold. There was no bed, just a mattress which always made you seem so alone. When a nurse and corpsman came to feed me, I was so hungry and thirsty, I would slop it all over myself and the corpsman. I could not talk but my gestures were saying I was sorry for messing his uniform. They would nod and leave. After a while, I would feel the need to relieve myself and would knock at the door for attention but being in a place where there were some severe cases and a shortage of help, was ignored and as a result would end up going on the mattress.

A few days later, I was taken out of this room and placed in a ward with other patients… However, there were nights when some of the other patients were quite sick and it was frightful to see and hear what was going on. I remember one night the patient alongside of me woke up screaming and fighting. Then the nurse and the corpsman would drag and pull him out of bed and take him away. It seemed as if they were tormenting the poor fellow and I wondered if I would be next. I was afraid many times during battles of World War II and Korea but seeing and listening to the sick men in the ward was worse than anything I had ever seen or been in…

After about 6 weeks in the closed ward, my family was allowed to visit me which improved my condition enormously…I discovered though that as a result of my injury, I was not able to function or formulate ideas as well as before…It was only through rigid self-discipline and hard work that I was able to regain my speech and began to feel like a human being again…

During the following month (July 1952) I was permitted to go home for a month of convalescence. When I returned to the hospital, my doctor suggested that it would be a good idea if I were assigned to do some clerical work in the hospital…

Shortly thereafter, I was called in to the Physical Evaluation Board. Here it would be decided if I would be returned to active duty or not… The Board which consisted of ten Naval officers both medical and line, reviewed my entire case. Their findings were that I was unfit to perform my duties due to post-traumatic personality stemming from brain damage due to anoxia or lack of oxygen…

Although I had to leave the service, and years have gone by and I am still married to “KAY” and have four children, I am able to support my family and I know I owe this all to God. So long as there is life, there is always hope for one no matter how dark things seem.

His daughter recapped his life and the importance of having the story above shared. She writes:

He died on May 24, 1979, at the age of 58 after losing his battle to lung cancer. He stayed married to his childhood sweetheart, “KAY” for more than thirty years, raised four children and two grandchildren. He worked for the New York City Department of Sanitation for 19 years. He was a relatively quiet man, who although not making a tremendous effect on the human race was a church-going man, devoted to his family. He loved telling stories of his childhood and what it meant growing up poor and living in a cold water flat. One of the stories he loved to tell was how he met a platinum blonde little girl when he was about 7 years of age in the park and grew up looking for this blonde. Years later he found out this blonde was “KAY,” the love of his life…He wasn’t a big man in stature, but he had a heart of gold…He was no scientist or genius but was just basically a good man who is finally without pain and I know he is looking down from heaven and smiling that his story is finally being published.

Section 24, lot 43800, grave 25.

James Sellers

SELLET, FREDERICK WILLIAM (1924-1992). Aviation machinist mate, second class, United State Naval Reserve, United States Navy. Frederick was born to father Angelo Sellet, and mother, Rose Sellet (Califato) in Brooklyn. According to the 1930 federal census, five-year-old Frederick lived at 599 88th Street. His father was 43 years old and worked as a porter for the railroad. His mother was also 43 years old with no occupation. As of 1930, Frederick had three older siblings: Antoinette, 14 years old, Pauline, 12 years old, and Alfonso (Alphonse), 9 years old. All of the family members, except for Frederick, were born in Italy. Frederick attended P.S. 104 and later Brooklyn Tech High School. In 1940, Frederick resided with his family at the same address. He was 15 years old.

At the time of his World War II draft registration, Frederick was 21 years old with no occupation. He was 6′ tall, 177 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and a ruddy complexion. “Name And Address Of Person Who Will Always Know Your Address” was listed as Rose Sellet, his mother. He lived at the same address throughout his life.

Sellet enlisted on November 17, 1942, in the United States Naval Reserve. He served in North Africa and Turkey. According to the United States Navy Muster Rolls, from June 22, 1944, he served aboard the U.S.S. LST 561, which according to the Navy History and Heritage Command “participated in the invasion of Southern France in August and September 1944.”  On July 11, 1944, he was transferred to Oran, Algeria “For Further Transfer, Headquarters Squadron, Fleet Air Wing.” In January 1945, he served assisting the captain and first mechanic aboard a PBY-5A seaplane, an anti-submarine aircraft, on “Operation Argonaut” ahead of the Yalta Conference between the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The mission also landed in Malta, the base for the Royal Air Force Coastal Command Squadron 283, where the RAF had been providing reconnaissance coverage for the operation. His plane crashed near Istanbul; Frederick was one of six survivors.

By May 1945, Sellet was aboard the HR 418, and was honorably discharged on February 23, 1946. He married Frances Ciavolella on September 18, 1947. They had two children, Elaine and Charlotte. After his military service, by 1950, he was working as a patrolman for the New York City Transit System, then he worked as head of auto mechanics for the New York Police Department. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, he and two partners filed to patent a Rear View Mirror for Drop Type Bicycle Handle Bars in 1981.

Frederick and his wife are both interred at Green-Wood; his wife died in 2020. Section E, lot 40330.

Frederick Sellet, later in life.
Frances Ciavolella Sellet

SELVAGGIO, ANTHONY (or ANTONIO) CARMINE (1921-2001). Corporal, Unit unknown, United States Army Air Forces. Anthony was born to father Giovanni (John) Nunzio Selvaggio, and mother, Anna Selvaggio, in Newburgh, New York. According to the 1925 New York State census, three-year-old Anthony (Antonio) lived at 5801 13th Avenue in Brooklyn. His father was 27 years old and worked as a cook, an occupation he would continue throughout his life. Anna was 31 years old and was a housewife. Both of Anthony’s parents were born in Italy. Anthony had an older brother, Stephen (Stefano) Gino, who was 4 years old. By 1930, the family was living at 1266 71st Street. Anthony was nine years old and in school, and had a younger sister, Gloria, who was seven years old.

By 1940, the family lived at 1314 71st Street. Stephen (Steven), was working as an entertainer. Anthony was 18 years old and working at an unknown occupation. Gloria was working as an operator. According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, on February 15, 1942, 20-year-old Anthony served as best man at his brother Stephen’s wedding. Gloria was a bridesmaid. The family continued living on 71st Street. On February 16, 1942, Selvaggio registered for the World War II draft. He was 5′ 7″ tall, 145 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and a light complexion and worked at Brewster Aeronautical Corporation in Newark, New Jersey. “Address Of Person Who Will Always Know Your Address” was listed as Anna Selvaggio, his mother. He subsequently enlisted and was honorably discharged on an unknown date.

Selvaggio married Theresa Eliano on June 17, 1946, in Manhattan. They had two children, Linda, and another child whose name is unknown. By 1950, Anthony was working as a restaurant manager at a coffee shop, and his family lived adjacent to his first wife’s family. Sadly, Theresa passed away on December 26, 1968, at age 43. She is buried at Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York. Plot 2X, 3031.

Anthony married Gloria Ann Russo in 1970 in Brooklyn. Gloria was born February 19, 1935 and graduated from Walton High School in the Bronx. As per public records, in 1993 he was living at 2520 2nd Street in Brooklyn. Anthony and Gloria are interred together at Green-Wood Cemetery. He passed away October 12, 2001, at the age of 80. Gloria passed away September 8, 2007, at the age of 72. Section 37, lot 42987.

Anthony Selvaggio’s wife in her Walton High School photo, 1950.

SIEBOLD, ROBERT G. (1920-1982). Lieutenant colonel, unit unknown, United States Army. Robert was born in Brooklyn to father, George H. Siebold, and mother, Irma D. Siebold (Shufelt). According to the 1930 federal census, 10-year-old Robert lived on Van Brunt Street. His father was 36 years old and worked as an undertaker. Irma was also 36 years old and was a homemaker. There was a 67-year-old boarder in the home, also listed an undertaker. By 1940, the family was living on 4th Avenue. Robert was 20 years old in high school and worked as a mortician with his father in the family business.

At the time of his World War II draft registration card, signed in 1941, Robert was 21 years old and worked as an “Apprentice to undertaker & embalmer” at the George Siebold (funeral home) at 384 Van Brunt Street. He was 5′ 8″ tall, 190 pounds, with gray eyes, brown hair, and a light brown complexion. “Name And Address Of Person Who Will Always Know Your Address” was listed as Irma Siebold, and the family address was 7901 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

Robert Siebold enlisted as a warrant officer on his 22nd birthday, February 6, 1942, in the United States Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, and was honorably discharged on June 16, 1946. He served in Italy, North Africa, and Germany.

According to Robert G. Siebold’s marriage license, he married Naomi Wagner Onnen on December 18, 1947, and they lived at 7523 Third Avenue in Brooklyn. By 1950, Robert was 30 years old and working at a funeral home as an embalmer and undertaker. The family had an infant daughter, Diane, and lived on 307 76th Street in Brooklyn. Robert was a business owner and was active in several community organizations. According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, as of September 22, 1951, Siebold was noted as Master of the Sanctorum Lodge, an association of Masonic Lodges and Charities. By 1956 he was a part of the Bay Ridge Lions Club in Brooklyn, and Membership Committee Chairman of the Men’s Club of Bay Ridge in 1960.

Robert and Naomi had three children, Diane, Robert, and Sherry, and three grandchildren. Sadly, Naomi passed away in July 1973. She is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery. Robert married Doris Tappe in 1978 in Brooklyn. At the time of his passing in 1982, donations were made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Section 205, lot 28032.

Robert Siebold, 1960, at Bay Ridge Lions Club.

SOFIO, ROBERT GANSEVOORT (1921-1944). Second lieutenant, 825th Bomb Squadron, 484th Bomb Group, 49th Bomb Wing, United States 15th Army Air Force. Sofio was born in Chicago. As per the 1930 federal census, his parents, Edward and Alma, were born in New York and his father owned a novelty manufacturing company. Robert was the eldest of three children. Robert, his brother Gilbert, and his sister Fredericke were all born in Illinois. At the time of the census, the family lived in Chicago. The 1940 federal census documents that the family lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was a production manager at a roofing company and the eighteen-year-old Robert was a shipping clerk. A picture of Robert is published in the 1940 Withrow High School Yearbook; Withrow High School is located in Cincinnati.

Sofio’s World War II draft registration card notes that he was 20 years old, unemployed, and lived at 4626 North Clarendon Avenue in Chicago. His mother was named next of kin. His registrar’s report, dated February 16, 1942, describes him as 5′ 8″tall and 148 pounds with hazel eyes, brown hair, and light brown complexion. As per his WW II Army enlistment records, dated April 28, 1942, he entered the service as a private and was single. His civilian occupation was bartender.

Robert’s unit, the 825th Bomb Squadron, 484th Bomb Group, 49th Bomb Wing, is cited in his Find a Grave website description. The 49th Bomb Wing consisted of three bomb groups, including the 484th Bomb Group. The 484th Bombardment Group was made up of four squadrons, including the 825th.  It is likely that Robert was involved in some of the missions as described on the Army Air Corps Library and Museum website:

Constituted as 484th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 Sep 1943 and activated on 20 Sep. Trained for combat with B-24’s. Moved to Italy, Mar-Apr 1944. Assigned to Fifteenth AF. Redesignated 484th Bombardment Group (Pathfinder) in May 1944 but did not perform pathfinder functions. Redesignated 484th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in Nov 1944. Operated primarily as a strategic bombardment organization, Apr 1944-Apr 1945. Attacked such targets as oil refineries, oil storage plants, aircraft factories, heavy industry, and communications in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, and Yugoslavia. On 13 Jun 1944 a heavy smoke screen prevented the group from bombing marshalling yards at Munich; however, in spite of severe damage from flak and interceptors, and despite heavy gunfire encountered at the alternate target, the group bombed marshalling yards at Innsbruck and received a DUC for its persistent action. Received second DUC for performance on 21 Aug 1944 when, unescorted, the organization fought its way through intense opposition to attack underground oil storage installations in Vienna. In addition to strategic missions the 484th participated in the drive toward Rome by bombing bridges, supply dumps, viaducts, and marshalling yards, Apr-Jul 1944; ferried gasoline and oil to Allied forces in southern France, Sep 1944…

Sadly, Robert Sofio was one of eleven crewmembers on the B-24J #38 “Red 38” to perish on December 17, 1944. A detailed account of the incident is described on Robert’s Find a Grave entry:

Bomber #38 was lost to fighter attack with the crew of 1Lt Roger A. Martin on a mission to Odertal, Germany (present day Zdzieszowice, Poland), on December 17, 1944. Attacked by an ME-109 piloted by Lt. Kraft from III/JG 300 at about 1205 hrs., bomber #38 crashed near the crossroads leading to Liebau (present day Libinia) and Wenzeldorf (present day Vaclavov), Czechoslovakia. None of the 11 crew members were able to bail out and all perished with the bomber. Lt. Kraft bailed out after his fighter was hit by one of the waist gunners. The ME-109 crashed in a garden in Libinia and Lt. Kraft landed uninjured.

The crew was buried in a local cemetery. After the war, the bodies were exhumed and sent to the States or the US cemetery in Saint-Avold, France, depending on the wishes of the families.

Also included on that website is S/Sgt James W. Taylor’s (826th Bomb Group, Gunner with #55) eyewitness account:

I was flying in ship (#55) and ship #38 was about 1500 yards from the formation with another straggler (#25 “Little Joe”). At about 1155, three enemy aircraft attacked from out of the sun, hit a B-24 (#28, 11:56) which went down in a spin, then hit (#38 (12:05) which caught on fire coming from the waist windows and the plane went down in a flat spin burning as it disappeared into the overcast. I did not see any chutes at the time.

According to an article in the July 24, 1947 issue of the Rogersville, Tennessee Review, Robert’s parents hosted the parents of Griffeth H. Fort, a member of Robert’s team on the ill-fated #38. The article states that “Mrs. Sofio has just returned from Europe, where she visited the United States Military Cemetery at St. Avold, about 20 miles from Metz, where her son and “Griff” are buried. She had pictures of the cemetery as a whole and individual snapshots of the graves of her son and Griff.”

Another account of the event is described by Griffeth H. Fort’s mother on an information card sent by the Alumni Association, Maryville College. The Alumni Association requested data regarding students of the college who either were serving or had served in some branch of the military service. Mrs. Fort’s account is as follows:

Missing in action as of Dec 17, 1944.  While on a mission to Germany while flying south of Neisse, Germany his bomber (B24 Liberator) was attacked by enemy fighters. The right wing was disabled.  The plane disappeared into a dense cloud formation, flames spurting from the wing.  If parachutes were used it could not be seen.  No trace of any of the crew of eleven men has been found.

The United States Headstone Application for Military Veterans, submitted by Helen B. Blaine Sofio on December 17, 1947, three years to the day after his death, verifies Robert’s rank, unit and branch of service. Only twenty-three years old at the time of his death, he was interred at Green-Wood on December 17, 1948, exactly four years after his plane was shot down and he died. Section 105, lot 21.

Sofio’s high school yearbook photo, 1940.
Photo of Sofio’s crew; Sofio is kneeling at the far right.

SORGENTI, JOSEPH J. (1910-1985). Tech 5, Task Force U and 804th Military Police, United States Army. Sorgenti was born in Manhattan, as per his World War II draft registration card. According to the 1915 New York State Census, he lived with his parents, Nicholas and Carmella, and three older siblings, Anna, Jennie and Gus, on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan. His father was a tinsmith. Most of his family information remained the same in the 1920 federal census. The only exception was he had a third sibling, Albert, aged three.  The 1930 federal census records that the family had moved to 66th Street in Brooklyn. His father was born in Italy, immigrated to the United States in 1898, and was an operator in a tire can company. His mother was also born in Italy. All siblings, born in Manhattan and ranging in age from 14 to 26, lived with their parents. Nineteen-year-old Joseph was an office clerk.

Between the years 1933 and 1937, Joseph took three cruises, as detailed on the Passenger Lists of United States Citizens. On July 13, 1933, he sailed from an unspecified port and arrived in New York eleven days later. On June 20, 1935, he sailed on the SS Haiti from New York and returned on July 8, 1937. He then made another round-trip excursion aboard the SS Haiti from New York, departing October 14, 1937 and returning on November 1.

Sorgenti’s World War II draft registration card notes that he was 30 years old and lived at 6212 12th Avenue in Brooklyn. His mother, residing at 1274 64th Street, was named next of kin. His employer was the Royal Netherlands Steamship Company, located at 25 Broadway, Manhattan. His registrar’s report, dated October 16, 1940, describes him as 5′ 10″ tall and 160 pounds with brown eyes, brown hair, and light complexion.

As per his WW II Army enlistment records, he enlisted in the Army on March 4, 1942 as a private. His civilian occupation was railroad clerk. His daughter, Josephine Sorgenti, shares that he served in the Task Force U unit and the 804th Military Police. He earned the rank of Tech 5 during his service. She also conveys that he served in Italy, France, North Africa and the Pacific, and fought at Normandy. The article, “Military Police and Engineer Special Brigades: The Normandy Invasion,” describes the role of the military police as follows: “Planning for the invasion, military strategists strived to ensure success on all levels. Military police missions such as circulation control, force protection and enemy prisoner of war (EPW) management would require numerous military police units.”

According to “Battle of Normandy Facts” by Mack Dean,

The Battle of Normandy refers to the Invasion of Normandy by Allied Forces in Normandy France during World War II from June 6, 1944 until the Allied breakout in July, 1944. The invasion was part of Operation Overlord during World War II and the largest amphibious operation in the history of modern warfare.

There were numerous task forces involved in Normandy. Since Sorgenti was serving in Task Force U, he may have been part of the following events as described in Chapter 9 of “Operation Neptune” found on the Naval History and Heritage Command website:

The task of the Assault Force U was to land elements of the VII Corps, U.S. Army, in the Madeline sector of the coast of Normandy, to support the landing and subsequent army operations. This was achieved by Naval gunfire, by establishing and operating a Ferry Service to unload ships and craft of follow-up convoys and by coordinating the siting and construction of a craft shelter of the beach. To accomplish this task, Commander Assault Force U, Rear Admiral D.F. Moon, U.S.N., had under his command approximately 865 ships and craft…In his report, General Eisenhower has commented on Force U’s Assault as follows: “The American 4th Division (VII Corps) assault on the Utah beaches just west of the Vire Estuary, met with the least opposition of any of our landings. Moreover, an error in navigation turned out to be an asset, since the obstacles were fewer where the troops actually went ashore than on the sector where they had been intended to beach. The enemy had apparently relied upon the flooding of the rear areas here to check any force which might attempt a landing, and the beaches themselves were only lightly held. Complete surprise was achieved and a foothold was obtained with minimum casualties although it was here that we had expected our greatest losses. The airborne troops having seized the causeways through the inundated hinterland and prevented the enemy from bringing up reinforcements, the 4th Division struck northwest toward Montebourg, on the road to Cherbourg.

His daughter relates that Sorgenti was awarded a Bronze Service Arrowhead for his service. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS  (Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem) Death File, he was discharged on October 23, 1945.

After his service and according to the 1950 federal census, Joseph, a traffic agent for a steamship company, and his brother Albert, a policeman, lived with their sister Anna, her husband, and their son, on 13th Avenue. He married Dolores on October 1, 1960, as per their only child, Josephine. He was employed by Cross Ocean Ltd. for 30 years. Section K, lot 4600, grave 87.

Sorgenti in uniform.

SPINELLI, FRANK (1925-1993). Rank unknown, United States Marines. The index record for Frank Spinelli in the Veterans Affairs Death File shows that he enlisted on August 23, 1943, served in the Marine Corps during World War II and was discharged on May 4, 1946. As per his obituary in the New York Daily News, he was survived by his wife, Terry née Scotto, a brother and sister and many nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial was held in his memory at St. Mary Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church on Court Street in Brooklyn. Section 79, lot 44607, grave 165.

STAINTON, ALFRED H. (1922-1945). Ensign, United States Navy. Born in Brooklyn, the 1925 New York State census shows his family living with his mother Lavinia’s parents in their home on Dahill Road in Brooklyn. His father was 32 and worked as a bank clerk, while his mother was 23. In addition to two-year-old Alfred, there was a younger brother, Robert C., who was one year old.

By the 1930 federal census, the Staintons were living on East 4th Street in Brooklyn. Harry (Harold) Stainton was still employed as a bank clerk. Then years later, in the 1940 census, the Staintons were again living with Alfred’s grandparents on Dahill Road. Alfred’s grandfather Alfred Payne was 65 and owned the house. He had been born in New York and worked as an operator for a book binder. His wife, Alfred’s grandmother Charlotte Payne, was 56. Alfred’s father was still working as a bank clerk.

Stainton’s draft registration card, filed on June 30, 1942, lists him as living at 587 Dahill Road in Brooklyn, with his mother as his contact. He was 19 years old, 5′ 11″ tall, and weighed 150 pounds, with a light complexion, and brown eyes and hair. At the time, he was attending Brooklyn College.

Alfred went on to graduate from Brooklyn College as a biology major and, in 1944, when his father died on April 7th, he was a midshipman in the Navy. His younger brother, Robert (see), was an aviation machinist’s mate, third class. The University of Notre Dame yearbook for 1944 reports that Alfred was an ensign and attended United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School.

Sadly, according to the Navy’s New York State Summary of War Casualties for 1946, on February 8, 1945, Ensign Alfred H. Stainton was either killed in action or died later of his wounds. He was interred in 1948 with his father at Green-Wood; his brother Robert would join him there in 1985. His mother, Lavinia A. Payne, lived until 1991, and is buried with them. Section 166, lot 30162, grave FLC.

Photo from Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School.
Family home, 587 Dahill Road, Brooklyn.

STEVENSON, WILLIAM CHARLES (1917-2005). Staff sergeant, United States Army. Born in Freeport, Long Island, on August 18, 1917, to Walter Stevenson and Ina Zella Raynor, young William was living with his parents and older siblings in 1920, according to the federal census of that year. The family was headed by Walter Stevenson, age 42 and born in New York, who worked as a bookkeeper for a silk manufacturer. His wife, Ina, was 30. They had a 19-year-old son Walter T. Stevenson, who worked as a clerk, and a 17-year-old daughter, Mildred, who was in school. William was only two years old at that time.

Per the 1930 census, the family was still living in Freeport, with Walter continuing to work for the silk manufacturing company. Sister Mildred, at 26 years of age, worked as a stenographer, and there was a younger brother Edward, who was 3 years old.

William attended Freeport High School and his 1935 yearbook shows he was active in sports, including track and football, as well as the school’s General Organization (G.O.) and ushering.

By 1940, the census shows that Walter, at age 59, had no occupation listed. William was 22 and worked as a clerk at a tobacco company. The only other sibling living at home was Edward, 13 years old.

Stevenson’s World War II draft registration card, signed when he was 23, shows him living at 48 Graffing Place in Freeport and working for the American Tobacco Company, at 111 Fifth Avenue, in New York City. His mother, Ina, is listed as his contact. He was 5′ 8″tall and weighed 145 pounds, with blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. Stevenson’s enlistment record, dated July 12, 1941, indicates that he had one year of college. Enlisting in the Army as a private, he rose to the rank of staff sergeant and served as an army paratrooper in France during World War II. The news article below notes that he was attached to headquarters of the United States Army’s armored force at Fort Knox before his deployment to Europe. Later, he was an Army major in Korea during the Korean conflict.

William married Luzena J. Firth, born on September 6, 1917, in 1942 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The 1950 federal census shows William as head of household, working as an accountant at a tobacco manufacturer and living with his wife and 5-year-old son, John W. Stevenson.

According to his obituary in the Massapequa Post, Stevenson continued to work as a financial executive at American Tobacco Company, eventually renamed Fortune Brands, for a total of 49 years. He was a resident of Massapequa, Long Island, for 50 years, financial secretary of St. David’s Lutheran Church in Massapequa for 15 years, as well as a loyal parishioner for over 50 years. In his spare time, he played golf and dabbled in woodworking. Stevenson died at the age of 87 on April 29, 2005, in his home in Manhattan. He was predeceased by his wife, Luzena, to whom he had been married for 44 years; she died in 1988 and is also interred in Green-Wood, as are William’s parents (Walter E. died in 1964 and Ina in 1947) and his brothers (Walter T. died in 1990 and Edward C. in 2013.) William’s son, John, was living in Manhattan when his father passed away. Section 52, lot 4949, grave RLC.

William Stevenson, later in life.

TACOPINO, ARTHUR J. (1926-1997). Private, 376th Infantry Regiment, Company L; 94th Infantry Division, United States Army. Records from the 1930 census report that he resided at 207 18th Street with his parents, Anthony and Anna, and his two older brothers, Cosimo and John. His father immigrated from Italy in 1905 and worked as a plasterer. His mother was born in New York. According to the 1940 census, his family resided at 591 Fourth Avenue and his father was an independent plasterer. According to his son, Tacopino attended Brooklyn public schools through the twelfth grade.

Tacopino’s World War II draft registration card states that he was eighteen years old, resided at 591 Fourth Avenue, and lists his mother as next of kin. He worked at Nessa Corporation as a longshoreman at Pier 2, Erie Basin, Brooklyn. A discharge date, June 3, 1946, is handwritten on the draft card. His registrar’s report indicates that he was 5′ 11″ tall, weighed 176 pounds, had brown eyes and hair, and a ruddy complexion. The date of the report, April 17, 1944, was Tacopino’s 18th birthday. His army enlistment record states that he was single and worked as a shipping and receiving clerk. His enlistment date is recorded as August 9, 1944, and his rank was private.

As per his son, he served in the 94th Infantry Division. According to the Sons of Liberty Museum, the 94th Infantry Division entered combat on September 17, 1944, at Normandy. The division engaged in combat for 209 days and experienced 6,533 casualties. Since Tacopino served from August 9, 1944, to June 3, 1946, he may have engaged in the following campaigns as cited by www.armydivs.com/94th-infantry-divsion: Northern France (July 1944 to September 1944), the Rhineland (September 1944 to March 1945), Ardennes-Alsace (December 1944 to January 1945), and Central Europe (March 1945 to May 1945). Two major accomplishments of the division are highlighted in the Sons of Liberty Museum’s website: on January 1, 1945, assisting the Third Army, the division destroyed the Siegfried Switch Line (a series of strong buffer defenses on the Moselle and east of the Saar River) helping to capture the key city of Trier in Germany; and, on March 16, 1945, the division was a key player in the taking of the industrial city of Ludwigshafen and capturing more than 17,000 prisoners.

As per Tacopino’s son, he was a guard during the Nuremberg Trials. Tacopino stood watch during the trial of Hans Michael Frank (see photograph below). Hans Michael Frank was Hitler’s personal legal advisor and was assigned to Poland, where he deported millions of its citizens to Germany as slave laborers. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was executed. Tacopino’s son relates that his father also escorted Hermann Goring from his cell to court during Goring’s trial. Goring was convicted of conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity at his trial at Nuremberg. Sentenced to be hung, Goring committed suicide with poison.

After the war, as per his son, Tacopino worked as an international longshoreman. According to the New York City marriage license indexes, he and Dorothy Ann Slattery applied for a marriage license on August 21, 1948. The couple married and had four children. In 1990, Tacopino’s address was 79 28th Avenue in Brooklyn. His last known address was 20 Brandis Avenue, Staten Island. Section 135, lot 40273.

Tacopino is guard at right.

Nuremberg Trial- Frank is seated, Tacopino at right.
Dorothy and Arthur Tacopino
Arthur Tacopino later in life.

TALISSE, EDWARD (1923-2015). Corporal, 387th Field Battalion Battery A, United States Army.  According to the New York City birth index, Talisse was born in Brooklyn. The 1925 New York State census indicates that he lived with his parents, Abdullah and Effie, at 189 Amity Street in Brooklyn. His parents were born in Syria, were naturalized citizens by 1925, and his father crocheted scarves. Talisse was the third of four children. As per the 1930 census, the family still lived on Amity Street and his father was a negligee manufacturer. His older brother was a shipping clerk, his older sister worked as an assistant supervisor in a garment company, and the fifteen-year-old Talisse and his younger brother attended school. Also listed in the census was his seventy-five-year-old grandmother, Avdokia Talisse.

According to his daughter, Talisse attended St. Paul’s Elementary School and George Westinghouse Technical High School. His World War II draft card notes that he was 18 years old, resided at 189 Amity Street, and his father was named as next of kin. His employer was Communication Measurements Laboratory at 131 Liberty Street, New York City. His registrar’s report, dated June 30, 1942, describes him as 5′ 6″ tall, 135 pounds, with brown hair, black eyes, and sallow complexion. The report also indicates that he had a birthmark on the left side of his face.

As per his daughter, Talisse was assigned to the 387th Field Artillery Battalion and was promoted to corporal. Talisse was stationed in Europe from December 14, 1943 to July 3, 1945, and took part in battles in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, and Central Europe. His military specialty was radio operator. As per the United States Army Center of Military History, the 387th Field Battalion was a component of the 104th Infantry Division. The division trained in Camp Adair, Oregon, from 1942 to 1943. Its insignia, representing the northwest, is a gray timber wolf’s head on a balsam green disc, and the division’s motto was “Nothing in hell can stop the Timberwolves.” The 104th Infantry Division was the first division to train specifically to fight in nighttime conditions. His daughter shared that Talisse’s service tenure began on March 1, 1943, and ended on October 29, 1945 with an honorable discharge. The men of the 104th landed in France on September 7, 1944. The 104th then fought its way across northwestern Europe, fighting in mud, rain, and cold for 200 days through France, Holland, Belgium, and western Germany. It encountered mines, booby traps, and roadblocks, and withstood two counteroffensives by German troops. By May 7, 1945 (VE Day), the 104th was halted opposite Soviet troops advancing from the east. Talisse was awarded the American Service Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal.

After the war, he married Edna Fahy on January 18, 1958, and the couple had two children, Peggy and Edward. By 1957, he had risen to be the production manager of Communication Measurements Laboratory. He also worked for R & J Components for over thirty-five years. He was survived by his daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. Section 18, lot 41281, grave 3.

Edna and Edward Talisse

TATE, ROBERT SAUTER (1923-1994). Rank unknown, unit unknown, United States Army.  According to his World War II registration card, Tate was born in East Orange, New Jersey. The 1930 census notes that he lived with his parents, Robert A. and Beatrice, and his younger sister, in Essex County, New Jersey. His parents were born in New York and his father was an advertising salesman. As per the 1940 census, the family lived in North Caldwell, New Jersey. Three siblings are recorded – Robert S., seventeen years old, Lois, thirteen years old, and Thomas, eight years old. Internet searches indicate that he attended Grover Cleveland High School in Caldwell. He was a member of its basketball team and a photograph of him and his teammates is in the 1939 edition of the Grover Cleveland High School Yearbook. He completed his high school education at Boonton High School. According to an article in The News (Patterson, New Jersey), dated June 18, 1941, he received a general course diploma during a ceremony celebrating the largest graduating class in the history of Boonton High School.

Tate’s daughter shared that he enlisted on January 29, 1943. His World War II registration card notes that he was nineteen years old, resided on Mountain Heights Avenue, Lincoln Park, Morris County, New Jersey, and his mother was named as next of kin. He was employed at Wright Aeronautical Corporation on Market Street in East Paterson, New Jersey. According to the Paterson, New Jersey, government website, Wright Aeronautical can trace its corporate roots back to the company formed by Orville and Wilbur Wright. In 1926, the company manufactured the Whirlwind J-5 engine for both military and domestic planes. By 1932, it employed over 2,400 workers. During World War II, Wright engines powered all of the B-17 Flying Fortresses, the B-52 bombers that took part on raids on Tokyo, and the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. An article in a Boonton newspaper, The Morning Call, reports that Tate was called to active service on February 4, 1943. Although little is known about his deployment, his daughter relates that he served in Exeter, England, and France. As per the Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem) Death File, he was discharged on December 1, 1945.

After the war, Tate married Salma (Sally) Baram on May 15, 1954, and the couple had three daughters, Elaine, Carol, and Laura. He was a machinist for Curtiss-Wright in Woodbridge, New Jersey, for twenty-four years. Subsequently, he was an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 102 in Peterson, New Jersey, for fifteen years before retiring in 1978. According to his daughter, “He was proud of his war service and belonged to several veterans’ associations, including the American Legion Post 174 in Wayne, New Jersey, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 18, and the Albion Place Memorial Post 7165 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Tate is buried in the same lot at Green-Wood as his father who passed away in 1949.  He was survived by his daughters Elaine Bednarek, Carol Thomas Fabrizio and Laura Gardiner and grandchildren Jesse Barlow Thomas, Nicolas Baram Bednarek, Robert Tate Bednarek, Devon Salma Gardiner and Piper Jean Gardiner. Section 143, lot 22384, grave 1.

Sally and Robert Tate

TEPEDINO, JOSEPH (1926-2018). Sergeant, unit unknown, United States Army.  According to the Richmond (Staten Island) birth records, Tepedino was born there. His son states that he was a native of Rosebank, a small neighborhood in that borough where his parents married in 1924. The 1930 census notes that he lived with his parents, Anthony and Mary (née Marino), and his younger brother, Salvatore. The family resided then at 755 50th Street in Brooklyn in a home owned by his parents. His father was born in Italy and his mother was born in New York.

According to the 1940 federal census, the family lived at 820 50th Street, another family-owned property. At the time of the census, Tepedino had a six-year-old brother, Michael. His father’s brother, Michael, was also residing at the house; both his uncle and father were carpenters. That census records that Joseph’s father had completed grade eight and his mother had completed one year of high school. Tepedino’s father has a World War II registration card which states that his place of birth was Padula, Italy, and that he was self-employed.

As per Tepedino’s son, Tepedino was part of the first graduating class of the new Fort Hamilton High School, located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The June 25, 1943 issue of the Brooklyn Eagle reports that “Army, navy and marine uniforms lent a war note to the annual graduation exercises held in Brooklyn last night.” The newspaper was referring to participants in the Fort Hamilton High School ceremony, along with five other high school graduation ceremonies.

Tepedino’s World War II registration card notes that he registered on July 26, 1944, was eighteen years old, born in Brooklyn, and his aunt, Madeline De Vivo, was named as the contact person. His place of employment is listed as the Brooklyn Army Terminal at 58th Street and First Avenue in Brooklyn. Little is known regarding his military service. His son shares that he “enlisted at the age of seventeen in 1943 and served in both the European and Pacific Theaters where he was wounded in combat. He served his final months in the military as a member of the occupational forces in Japan.” After the war, Tepedino was a carpenter and worked until he was eighty years old. He was married for sixty-seven years to Mary (née Kravitz) and the couple had two children. The family first lived in Borough Park, Brooklyn, before moving to Eltingville, Staten Island, and then to Pennsylvania. He passed away at the age of ninety-one in Limerick, Pennsylvania. He was survived by his wife, children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Section 191, lot 39723.

TIERNAN, GERARD EDMUND (1925-2007). Seaman first class, United States Navy. According to the New York birth index, Tiernan was born in Brooklyn. The 1925 New York State census indicates that the two-month-old Tiernan lived with his mother, father, and older brother on 61st Street in Brooklyn. His mother, Jennie, was born in Scotland and his father, Joseph, was born in the United States. As per the1930 census, the family resided at 441 39th Street, Brooklyn, and his father was a railroad switchman. The census records that his parents had four children. At the time of the 1940 census, Tiernan lived on 44th Street with his parents and three younger sisters. His mother was an interior decorator and, although his father was listed as head of house, no occupation was recorded. The census taker had written his father’s last name as “Giernan” and his mother’s first name as “Janet.”

Tiernan’s World War II draft card, dated April 8, 1943, notes that he was eighteen years old, resided at 343 44th Street, and listed his father as next of kin. He was employed by Willows Manufacturing Corporation located on 39th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in Brooklyn. His registrar’s report describes him as 6′ 1″ and 140 pounds with blue eyes, brown hair, and light complexion. The World War II Navy Muster Rolls records that his enlistment date was April 5, 1943 and that he boarded the USS Braine on August 9, 1943 as a seaman second class. As per the Braine’s Report of Changes, dated March 1, 1944, Tiernan was promoted to seaman first class. His niece relates that the Braine “sustained Kamikaze attacks while my uncle ‘Jerry’ was aboard.” According to the National Archives blog, “The Kamikaze Attack on the USS Braine, May 27, 1945,” the Braine was a Fletcher class destroyer. As per the blog, “Following her participation in General Douglas MacArthur’s campaign to retake the Philippines, the ship was ordered to serve as a radar picket and support ship as part of task Force 51 for the invasion of Okinawa.” Tiernan most likely was aboard the Braine when the attack took place. The blog states:

The picket ships were under constant attack by the Japanese. On May 27, 1945, the Braine and the USS Anthony sailed into their assigned position at picket station number five, relieving the USS Bennion. At 7:44 AM general quarters sounded throughout the ship and the crew raced to their assigned stations, four Japanese “Val” dive bombers dove out of the overcast sky, ‘making a coordinated suicide attack from low hanging clouds on the starboard beam’ according to the Braine’s after-action report. As the planes began their dive to target the American ships, the destroyers let loose a blanket of anti-aircraft fire into the sky. Two of the Japanese planes were immediately shot down. The first plane was hit by the combined fire of the two ships and the second plane was struck by fire from the Anthony and crashed close to her starboard. The third plane was also struck by anti-aircraft from the Anthony but as the plane began to burn, it pulled up, narrowly missing the Anthony, and dove into the Braine…The Braine’s Captain, William W. Fitts, ordered right full rudder and flank speed in an attempt to avoid the aircraft but it was too late. The kamikaze smashed into the Braine directly above the bow of the ship, just above the main deck. The ship was rocked from side to side by the impact and explosion of the plane…As the crew scrambled to put out fires and save the injured crew mates, a second kamikaze dove in from the low cloud cover and hit the Braine midship. The effects of the second hit were devastating: the number 2 stack exploded into the sea, fire raged, communications and control were lost, and men were blown into the water by the blast.

As a result of this attack, eight officers and fifty-nine enlisted men were killed and one hundred-two wounded. The blog relates that “For her service in World War II, the Braine earned nine battle stars and her crew was awarded a Navy Cross, five Silver Stars, a Navy and Marine Corps Medal, ten Bronze Stars, fourteen commendation ribbons and one hundred-eighty-seven Purple Hearts.”

A Report of Change from the USS Braine shows that Tiernan was transferred to RS Boston FFT PSC, Lido Beach, for discharge on March 1, 1946. A Brooklyn marriage license was issued to Tiernan and Helen Counihan on December 18, 1951, and the couple had five children. He passed away in Staten Island. The epitaph on his tombstone reads: “May Our Souls in Comfort Be.” Section 76, lot 40793.

Gerard and Helen Tiernan

TROCCIOLA, EDWARD JOSEPH (1923-2017). Technical sergeant, 58th Fighter Squadron, United States Army Air Force. Edward was born in Brooklyn, according to the borough’s record of births, to Italian-born parents Pasquale, a “shoe laborer,” and Josephine. In the 1925 New York State census, two-year-old Edward is living on 72nd Street in a triplex owned by his father, with five older sisters. The other two units in the building were occupied by Edward’s uncle John and aunt Frances Trocciola, with their five sons and one daughter; his uncle Amadeo and aunt Christina Trocciola, with their three sons and one daughter; and his uncle Mario Trocciola. All the Trocciola brothers were shoe laborers. In that year, the Trocciola cousin count was nine boys and seven girls. By the time of the 1930 federal census, the count had risen to eight girls.

Edward Trocciola attended P.S. 259 in Brooklyn, according to his daughter Carol Kirrane. By the time of the 1940  census, 16-year-old Edward was reported still in school beyond the 8th grade. In 1942, a few weeks before his 19th birthday, Edward registered for the draft, listing his employer as Polarizing Instrument Company and signing his name as Eddie. He was described as 5′ 3½” tall, 123½ pounds, with black hair and a dark complexion.

Trocciola enlisted on January 23, 1943, according to his daughter. He served in the 58th Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Force. During World War II, the 58th participated in several operations in the Mediterranean Theater and in the China-Burma-India Campaign until the end of the war in August 1945, flying P-40 Warhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, and P-38 Lightnings.

For his service, Trocciola received the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was discharged from service on December 13, 1945.

After his military service, his daughter reports, he worked for Caltro Trucking. Edward and Marie Masino received a marriage license in New York City on August 21, 1948. They are interred together. Section 69, lot 45400. 

Edward Trocciola

TROTTO, PHILIP B. (1917-2001). Second lieutenant, 101st Airborne Division, United States Army Air Force. Born in Manhattan to Italian-born parents Angelo and Anna Trotto, Philip was the third of seven children. According to the 1920 census, the family lived on Conover Street in Brooklyn and Philip’s father was a dock worker. By the time of the 1930 census, the family had a new address—68 Walcott Street, a house owned by Philip’s parents. His father, now a naturalized citizen, worked in the shipyards.

Trotto graduated from Brooklyn Industrial High School’s cabinetmaking program in January 1934. According to the 1940 census, he lived at home, along with all his siblings, and worked for a coffee company—probably his eventual employer, the Maxwell House division of General Foods in Hoboken, New Jersey, where he rose to the position of assistant foreman in the Shipping & Receiving Department.

Trotto registered for the draft in October 1940, at age 22. The name on his draft card is “Philip Bob Trotto,” and he is described as 5′ 10″ tall, 165 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was drafted into the Army in January 1941, and assigned to the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, for basic training.

In February 1942, as a sergeant, he was part of a cadre that reactivated the 82nd Infantry Division. He was instrumental in the rapid development of the men in his platoon and was promoted to first sergeant in July 1942. In August 1942, the 101st Airborne Division was created from a part of the 82nd Infantry Division and his rifle company became Battery B of the 81st AA/AT Battalion, a glider antitank battery. As per his son, he participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, landing in a glider behind Utah Beach at 4:00 a.m. on June 6, 1944. His battery had a scattered landing and he rapidly rounded up small groups of its personnel and their antitank weapons under heavy enemy small-arms and mortar fire, safely leading them in the darkness over strange terrain to their assembly area in Heisville, France. His battery lacked both executive and reconnaissance officers; he assisted the battery commander in these duties throughout the Normandy Campaign. He participated in the successful attack on Carentan, France. He also rode a glider into Holland (the Netherlands) during Operation Market Garden and was part of the defense of the town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

Trotto participated in the airborne invasion of Holland in September 1944, landing in a glider in the vicinity of Zon, Holland. Again, as a result of scattered glider landings, he assembled small groups of men and equipment into one fighting unit and immediately committed them to the defense of the Zon Bridge under heavy enemy shelling and small-arms fire. He participated in vital engagements with the enemy at St. Oedenrode, Veghel and Dodewaard, Holland. During the defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, due to the absence of an officer, he was put in charge of an antitank platoon. His platoon, attached to a parachute infantry regiment at Bisory, Belgium, and in the vicinity of Nouvelle, Belgium, was instrumental in preventing enemy armor and infantry attacks headed for Bastogne. He remained in command of the antitank platoon until the end of the war in Europe. On June 6, 1945, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He received the Bronze Star for his actions during World War II.

After separation from the Army in September 1945, he returned to his position at Maxwell House and later went on to become a foreman at Greene Wolf Plumbing Supply and later Davidson Pipe Supply, until his retirement in1984. His career would be interrupted for a few years in the early fifties, when he suffered from PTSD (then called “battle fatigue”).

In April 1946, he married Marie Castelluccio and they had two sons: Angelo, born in October 1947; and Philip, born in May 1950. He had two grandchildren: Mark, son of Philip and Eileen; and Cassandra (“Cassie”), daughter of Angelo and Marie. Section 12, lot 40396.

Trotto at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
Trotto in 1945 when he was commissioned second lieutenant.
Philip and his wife Marie.
Philip, at right, and Marie Trotto, left, in 1946.
The Trottos in 1964.

UNZ, RITA S. (1918-2014). Corporal, Women’s Army Corps, United States Army. Born Rita Strittmatter in East Carroll Township, Pennsylvania, she was raised on a farm, which her family still operates, now as a truck farm. The family included her father, F. J., mother Matilda, and seven siblings. She first appeared in the 1920 census and was recorded as 11 years old by the 1930 census. The 1940 census recorded that Rita was living in Queens, New York, with her younger brother and married older sister, and that she and her brother were working at a retail drug store, she as a clerk typist. On March 13, 1943, at the age of 23, Unz (then Strittmatter) enlisted with a rank of aviation cadet as part of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), Inactive Reserve.

In July 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill declaring the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) officially part of the United States Army. This meant that WACs could serve overseas and they or their families would be given benefits if wounded or killed in service. WACs would also receive rank and pay equal to that of men in the regular Army. Rita served in England and perhaps other parts of Europe. She was in England on D-Day and was awarded six battle stars for her service during the war.

After World War II, WAC personnel quickly demobilized. According to passenger lists from the Queen Mary, in October 1945 Rita and her unit arrived at an Army separation center at Fort Dix, New Jersey, by way of Le Havre, France, and Southampton, England. She is listed as a corporal WAC.

Five years later, she was the first WAC reservist to apply for active duty at the outbreak of the Korean War. Returning to civilian life after the Korean War, she worked as a legal secretary and was an active member of the Bay Ridge Historical Society. She married her first husband, Wiliam Godet, sometime after 1950. He died in 1981. Known by then as Rita Godet, at the age of 63 she married Ernest Unz.

Rita Unz died in Bay Ridge in 2014, at the age of 95. Her obituary in the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Tribune-Democrat notes that she lived independently until the end of her life, and was survived by her younger brother. It also confirms her service as a WAC during World War II and her re-enlistment during the Korean War. Section 13, lot 44217.

Ritz Unz

VALENTI, THOMAS (or GAETANO) A. (1916-1985). Rank unknown, unit unknown, United States Army. The 1920 census reports that four-year-old Thomas Valenti, born in New York City, lived with his parents, Giovanni and Theresa, both born in Italy, his brothers Salvatore and Frances, and sister Sebastina at 121 Elizabeth Street in Manhattan. An uncle also lived at that residence with his wife and three children. Thomas’s name was recorded as Gaetano, his Italian name. His father worked as a longshoreman. According to the 1930 census, Valenti’s father, now known as John, was employed as a subway worker. By 1940 Thomas’s father, again listed as the head of the family, was employed as a dock worker.  The 1940 census states that Valenti, now 23 years old, was also employed as a dock worker.

Valenti’s World War II draft card, signed in October 1940, states that he had his own business, located on Forsyth Street on the Lower East Side. It lists his father as the “Name of Person Who Will Always Know Your Address.”

On November 3, 1941,Valenti and his wife-to-be, Fortunata (Fay) DeBella, registered for a marriage license before Valenti’s service in the United States Army began. He enlisted on April 22, 1942 and was discharged on October 25, 1944. There is no information regarding his rank, unit, or where he was stationed during the war.

Valenti and his wife had three children, John, Thomas, and Theresa. According to his United States Department of Veteran Affairs death file, he passed away in Brooklyn. His last residence, as recorded by the Public Records index, was a three-story home at 125 28th Street in Greenwood Heights, a neighborhood adjacent to the western edge of Green-Wood Cemetery. Yard, lot 39000, grave 1080.

VERSACE, ROCCO (1919-2010). Staff sergeant, 636th Quartermaster Laundry Company, United States Army. Versace was born to Rosario Versace and Antonia Fedele in Bagnara, Italy. He had a grammar school education. At the age of 16, in October of 1935, he arrived in New York on the SS Rex from Naples, Italy. On the passenger and crew list from the ship, it states that his intent was to reside in the United States permanently and become a citizen. A former farmhand, he set off to 58 Sackett Street in Brooklyn where his father resided.

Five years after he arrived in the United States, his draft registration card reported him working for Moore-McCormack, a shipping line, at Pier 15, resting at the base of Montague Street in Brooklyn. He was living at 66 President Street during this time. This document also records him at 5′ 5″ and 150 pounds with brown hair, brown eyes, and a light complexion.

Versace enlisted in the United States Army on October 20, 1942. The enlistment record states that he was working as a longshoreman, presumably still for Moore-McCormack. The unit that Versace belonged to, the 636th Quartermaster Laundry Company, had served a vital role in World War I by providing laundry services and salvage work. Surprisingly, the military did not previously provide laundry services; this was a significant health hazard as lice were rampant and infectious. During World War II, the Quartermaster Laundry Company’s duties expanded to include more field services such as clothing repair and delousing.

Versace served in nine countries with his unit, including France (Normandy), Germany (Ehrang), the Philippines (Taal Luzon Island), and Japan (Yokohama). Fighting and performing services in different theaters resulted in distinct challenges, and the Pacific Theater was particularly challenging. Versace is seen photographed at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan. A decorated staff sergeant, Versace received five commendations: the American Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the Philippines Liberation Ribbon.

During his service, Versace petitioned for naturalization. With his fellow United States Army soldiers as witnesses, he signed the affidavit on December 6, 1944. He was 25 years old. When he returned to the United States from Genoa, Italy, in 1946, following his service, he was a United States citizen. At that time, the 27-year-old returned to his address at 66 President St. in Brooklyn.

In the days following his homecoming, Versace married his fiancée Nancy Iaria. Nancy was born to Italian parents as well and lived in Brooklyn. Versace lived in Brooklyn for the rest of his life. John Morreale, his grandson, relates that Versace worked as a longshoreman for 40 years. Living to the age of 90, he was predeceased by his wife, Nancy in 2005, who is interred with him. Morreale notes that his grandfather’s burial at Green-Wood included military honors. Section 149, lot 44608, grave 435.

Versace at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan.
Nancy and Rocco Versace at their 1946 wedding at Sacred Heart-St. Stephen’s Church on Summit Street in Brooklyn.
Rocco Versace at his 90th birthday party in 2009.

WALDRON, JAMES RICHARD (1916-1999). Corporal, United States Army.  James Waldron was born in Brooklyn to Henry Charles Waldron and Mary Kennedy Waldron. James had four full siblings and two half-sisters from his father’s earlier marriage. James’s father’s occupation, according to the 1900 federal census, was glass engraver. By 1920, he was a laborer in an oil yard; by 1930, an office clerk. He died in 1933, having worked for Standard Oil for 15 years, according to his death notice. James was 16 years old at that time.

By the time of the 1940 federal census, 23-year-old James Waldron was living at home on Ainslie Street in Williamsburg with his widowed mother, his siblings, and his mother’s brother. He was working as a bookkeeper at J.B. Slattery & Brothers, a gas stove manufacturer. In that year, James registered for the draft. He was described as 5′ 10″ tall and 210 pounds, with brown hair and eyes, and a light complexion.

Waldron was inducted into the United States Army on September 26, 1942, at the age of 25. According to his son, Richard, he served in New Guinea. He was discharged from the service at the end of December 1945.

After the war, Waldron went to college, graduating St. John’s University School of Commerce in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Waldron continued to work at J.B. Slattery for a total of 22 years; at Welbilt Stoves for 10 years; and at Long Island Stove for five years.

In 1950, he married Anne Marie Shapiro in New York. His wife was from a Belarus-born, Yiddish-speaking, Jewish family. Her two older brothers were born in Russia. Anne and her twin, Harry, were born in New York in 1917.  James and Anne had two sons, Brian and Richard, and four grandchildren. Anne died in 1993 and is buried with her husband in Green-Wood. James Waldron died at the age of 82. Section 149, lot 44608, grave 241.

Waldron’s Commencement brochure from St. John’s University.

WILLIAMS, JR., REMSEN TAYLOR (1914-1941). Leading aircraftman, Royal Canadian Air Force. Williams was born in New York City; his application to the Royal Canadian Air Force specifies Long Island City. The 1920 census notes that he was living with his parents, Remsen and Gertrude and older sister, Dorothy, age 7; his father was born in Canada and was manager of the veneer mill at the Steinway piano factory. On March 25, 1921, his name appeared on the manifest of the Santa Elisa, a ship that departed from Cristobal in the Panama Canal Zone and arrived in New York City on that date. At the time of the 1925 New York State census, the family had moved to North Hempstead in Nassau County and the household included a butler and a cook. The 1930 census shows that the family owned their $45,000 home in Kensington, a part of Great Neck on Long Island, and that his father was a stockbroker; that census lists the father’s birthplace as New York and includes a butler, cook and child of one of the household helpers. Remsen’s photo appears in the 1932 Pawling [New York] High School Yearbook.

On October 25, 1940, Williams registered for the draft in Loudoun County in Leesburg, Virginia. As per his draft registration card, he was living in Middleburg, Virginia, where he was self-employed. His mother, Gertrude Taylor Williams, who lived at 15 Nassau Drive in Great Neck, New York, was listed as his next of kin. His registrar’s report describes him as 5′ 10″ tall, 160 pounds with blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion. That card was subsequently marked in red pencil, “deceased.”

Williams applied to enlist in the Canadian Royal Air Force on May 5, 1941. He stated that he was a commission broker, single, Episcopalian, had never served in the military, had no honors or awards or owed any debts. That application listed his mother’s home address as his residence and noted that he was an American citizen and that his father was deceased.

On October 20, 1941, Williams died in an airplane accident at Three Rivers (Cap de la Madeleine) in Quebec, Canada. His obituary, which confirmed his service as a leading aircraftman (pilot), states that he was from Long Island and was attached to the #11 Elementary Flying Training School in Quebec. Williams, who was piloting the aircraft, collided mid-air with another plane, both of which were Fleet Flinch planes flying over the aerodrome at Cap de Madeleine. Neither pilot survived the crash.

The American Foreign Service published a Report of the Death of an American Citizen on January 29, 1942. That report confirms Williams’s birth in New York City and last residence in Middleburg, Virginia. The report of his death, furnished by the Chief of Air Staff, Royal Canadian Air Force, in Ottawa, Canada, states that Williams declared his willingness to serve but took no oath of allegiance and provided no evidence of American citizenship. The aforementioned report was sent to his mother, who lived at the above address on Nassau Drive but indicated as RFD #1 in Huntington, New York, on January 29, 1942. That report notes that his family vault at Green-Wood Cemetery was the Steinway Mausoleum. Green-Wood archives indicate that his last residence was in Huntington, Long Island. His name appears on an online list, Commonwealth War Graves, of the final resting places of British Commonwealth veterans. Section 46, lot 15388, vault.

1932 Pawling High School Yearbook.

WITZEL, CHARLES E. (1917-2004). Private, United States Army, 39th Infantry and 9th Infantry Divisions. Witzel was born in Amsterdam, Montgomery County, New York. As reported by the 1920 federal census, he lived with his father, John H., a garage mechanic, 42 years of age, and his mother, Ethel M., 33, a homemaker. In addition to Charles, the family had other two sons, John Martin, born in 1916, and Frank B., born in 1917. Both of Witzel’s parents were born in New York State, as were his grandmother and grandfather on his paternal side. According to the 1925 New York State and 1930 federal censuses, John Witzel worked as a rug designer and Ethel Witzel continued to work in the home. All three sons still resided with the family in Amsterdam.

By 1940, Charles Witzel had moved to Brooklyn, as evidenced by his draft registration card, which was signed on October 16, 1940. He was 23 years old, resided at 2206 Beverly Road, and worked at the W. T. Grant Company, a chain department store on Flatbush Avenue. His key contact was his father John, who continued to live in Amsterdam, New York. Charles was 6′ 2″ tall, weighed 155 pounds, and had blue eyes, blond hair, and a light complexion.

In 1941, as reported by the Amsterdam, New York Directory, his parents still resided in Amsterdam while their sons appear to have all left home. John worked as a teacher in Ithaca, New York; Frank was working in Washington, D.C., and Charles was a member of the United States Army.

Charles Witzel and his fiancée Mary R. Lee obtained a marriage license in Brooklyn on February 13, 1942. According to a wedding announcement published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, they were married the next day, Valentine’s Day 1942, in Holy Cross Church in Brooklyn. Charles was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at the time.

By October 17, 1942, as a member of the 39th Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg, Witzel landed at Inveraray in Scotland. The 39th Regiment was the first combat unit of American troops to set foot on foreign soil in Europe in World War II. The regiment joined the 47th Infantry Regiment in capturing Roetgen, the first German town to fall in the war, in September, 1944. The 39th also fought through the Battle of the Bulge and moved across Germany as the Allied Forces pressed on towards the end of the war in 1945.

From his family, we know that Witzel was the personal driver for Colonel Harry A. “Paddy” Flint up until they were both wounded by a German sniper on July 24, 1944 in Normandy. Though Colonel Flint died the next day from his wounds, Charles Witzel was flown to a hospital and survived.

Witzel took part in three invasions and six campaigns in the European Theater of Operations. In addition to his combat and infantry medals, he also received the Purple Heart with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star, and the Good Conduct Medal. He was discharged from the United States Army on June 25, 1945.

By 1947, according to a publication by the College of the Holy Cross, Ninth Infantry Division Association, Charles and Mary had a child. At that time, Witzel worked at a shoe store on West 47th Street in Manhattan.

According to the federal death indices and cemetery records, Charles Edward Witzel passed away in 2004, predeceased by his wife, Mary, in 1970. His last residence was in Brooklyn. Section 15-16, lot # 17263, grave 1999.

Charles Witzel in uniform.

WOLBER, FRED (or FREDERICK) JOHN (1920-1987). Private first class, 350th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division, United States Army. Wolber was born in Brooklyn, the firstborn child of Frederick and Mary Wolber. His grandparents on both his maternal and paternal sides were born in Germany. Wolber’s father was working as a checker at an oil refining company at the time of his birth. At the time of the 1920 census, the family lived at 71 Union Avenue in Staten Island.

By 1925, according to the New York State census, the Wolbers had moved to Brooklyn and resided at 330 58th Street. Wolber’s father worked as a chauffeur. The family included his mother, Mary, a home-maker. An uncle named George and a cousin, Jack Kennedy, also resided there. By the time of the 1930 census, the Wolbers lived at 535 51st Street in Brooklyn. Wolber’s father, Frederick, still worked as a chauffeur. The rest of Fred’s family included his mother Mary, and siblings George and Dorothy.

According to the 1940 federal census, the family had moved again in Brooklyn, this time to 5011 Third Avenue. Wolber’s father worked as a chauffeur for a trucking company and Wolber, now 20 years of age, worked as a metal worker in a tin factory.  His mother Mary, brother George, and sisters Dorothy and Mary, also lived at home.

As per his draft registration records, Frederick John Wolber registered for the draft on February 15, 1942. He listed his fiancé, Helen Questel, as the “Name and address of person who will always know your address.” Both of their addresses were listed as 5013 Third Ave, Brooklyn. At the time, Wolber worked for William Westfall at 4601 First Ave in Brooklyn.

According to the Marriage License Index of New York, on September 9, 1942 Frederick and his fiancé, Josephine Helen Questel, obtained a marriage license. According to the family, the couple married on October 4, 1942.

World War II Army enlistment records show that Wolber enlisted on December 7, 1942, the first anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. At the time, he was working as a kitchen worker. His place of entry into service was Fort Dix, New Jersey. From his family, we know that Wolber was a light machine gunner who fought in the European Theater of Operations with the 350th Infantry Regiment of the 88th Infantry Division. Other documentation lists his specialty as a cannoneer 610.

Frederick Wolber fought in battles and campaigns in the Po Valley, Rome-Arno, and the North Apennines. He was wounded in Italy on September 29, 1944. Wolber was awarded a Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart, EAME Theater Ribbon with three Bronze Stars; American Theater Ribbon, and the World War II Victory Medal. The Purple Heart was from being hit by shrapnel from a hand grenade. Accompanying his Bronze Star was a letter from Major General of the United States Army Paul W. Kendall:

For heroic achievement in action on 28 April 1945, near San Pietro in Gu, Italy.  On this day, the Second Battalion was proceeding north in a column of troops carriers when it was suddenly fired on by enemy rifle and machine guns from the flanks, inflicting several casualties. Private Wolber, of the Anti-Tank platoon, leaped from his truck and seized a rifle from a fallen comrade. Then, taking up a position under the truck, he delivered such a deadly hail of fire at the enemy machine gun, concealed in a railroad car, that it was immediately silenced. This splendid display of bravery and initiative encouraged the other troops to also take up firing positions and the result was the complete routing of the enemy machine gunners….. Private Wolber’s quick actions in firing on the enemy, inspired others to also take up positions and permitted the battalion to continue forward after having knocked out the strong points of resistance. Private Wolber’s magnificent courage and superb initiative won him the sincere respect and admiration of all who witnessed these deeds.

Wolber was discharged from Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, on November 1, 1945.

Wolber and his wife, Helen, had three children, Marilyn, Randy, and Cathy. At the time of his death, at age 66, he had eight grandchildren. According to his family, Wolber died of lymphoma. Section 6, lot 39340.

In Italy in 1943.
Wolber, front row, second from left.
Two of Wolber’s medals.
Wolber in uniform.

XANTHOS (or XANTHAKOS), LEON (or LEONIDES) G. (1919-2010). Sergeant, 97th Infantry Division, United States Army. Leon Xanthos was born in Sparta, Greece, to George and Garifalia Xanthakos, according to Ancestry.com. Leon was their fourth child; three daughters had preceded him. His father immigrated to the United States in 1920, when Leon was a year old, and eventually shortened the family name to Xanthos. By the 1930 federal census, his father was living with his daughter, Stella, and son-in-law, Louis Paulos, working at Louis’s newsstand.

Leon, known at the time as Leonides Xanthakos, immigrated to the United States from Greece in late 1937, arriving in New York on the ship Vulcania, according to passenger lists. He had just turned 18 years old.  His daughter, Maria, said of her father’s reasons for immigrating:

Greece was about to enter WWII. His father knew that if [Leon] stayed in Greece, he was obligated to serve in the Greek Army and [George] decided to send him to America. When the U.S. entered WWII, my father decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. [He]wanted to fight for America because Italy invaded Greece and [he] wanted to help the cause. When [Leon’s] father found out that he enlisted, he went to the Army office and told them that he was not an American citizen and was not allowed to fight for the American Army, but later the laws changed and my father was drafted into the American Army.

After his arrival, Leon worked at his brother-in-law’s newsstand and went to school. He spent time at the Park Slope Library, learning to speak and write English, according to his daughter, who related: “He went to night school at Brooklyn Technical High School to become an engineer and to learn how to repair televisions, but was expelled because he was not an American citizen.” His daughter reports that her father went on to attend Diesel Mephils Diesel School, in Long Island City, New York, and graduated in 1942.

By the time of the 1940 federal census, 20-year-old Xanthos was a lodger at a residence on 10th Street in Brooklyn, had completed the first year of high school, and was working as a counter man in a restaurant.

He first registered for the draft on July 1, 1941, at the age of 21, as Leon George Xanthos. His draft registration card describes him as 5′ 11½” tall, 155 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and a dark complexion. Leon listed his sister Fay’s husband as his emergency contact. He was still working for his sister Stella’s husband, Louis, at the newsstand.

Xanthos was inducted into the United States Army as a private in September, 1942. He was “not yet a citizen,” according to enlistment records. According to his daughter, Maria, he served in the 97th Infantry Division, and was eventually promoted to the rank of sergeant. After basic training in the United States, he trained as a rifleman, rising to tech4-clerk, general (the equivalent of a sergeant).

Maria said that during the time her father served in Louisiana:

He was on maneuvers doing a 25-mile march with a heavy backpack and [was] not given any food. As they were marching, one of his friends from Kentucky noticed there was a sweet potato crop. So at nightfall they went to the farm and started eating them because they were hungry. After that experience, [when he] became a civilian, my father never ate another sweet potato.

The 97th Infantry Division arrived in Europe in February 1945, to bolster divisions committed in the Battle of the Bulge. Xanthos performed a variety of clerical and file-handling duties at the 2016th Prisoner of War Overhead Detachment, in Belgium. Maria stated, “He handled and kept accurate alphabetical files of new prisoners by preparing admission cards and fingerprinting them.” He served in the European Theater of operations for 24 months.

Regarding her father’s experience in combat, Maria stated that when he was in London, he was in a cab with his friend, going to Victoria Station to return to camp:

A block away, a V2 bomb exploded and the cab overturned. His friend was hurt and received the Purple [Heart]; my father received the Battle [or Service] Star, because England was considered a war zone. My father received his second Battle [or Service] Star at Bastogne, Belgium: He was given a rifle to fight the Germans. This was the only experience that he had in combat.

In January 1944, Xanthos became an American citizen when he was stationed in England. According to his daughter, “He saw an advertisement that he can become a citizen at the American Embassy in London, and that’s where he became an American citizen.”  At the same time, he formally changed his name from Leonides Xanthakos; his naturalization papers, dated December, 1944, record his name as Leon G. Xanthos.

After two years in Europe, Xanthos was honorably discharged from Fort Dix, New Jersey, on May 1, 1946. He had received the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Back in New York, Leon and Sterliani “Stella” Mentonis were married on November 30, 1948. The couple had four children. Xanthos owned his own business, a stationery store on the corner of 9th Street and 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, for 45 years.

Xanthos was residing in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the time of his death in May 2010. His wife, Stella, died several weeks later, and is buried next to him in Green-Wood. Section 25, lot 45145, grave 1.

Leon Xanthos

ZAFFIRO, FRANK A. (1921-2019). Technician fifth grade, 720th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, United States Army. Frank Zaffiro was born in Brooklyn. Both the 1930 and 1940 federal censuses indicate that he lived on Union Street with his parents, Alfredo and Maria Zaffiro, who were Italian immigrants. In 1930, Maria’s parents were living with them, but by 1940, Alfredo, Maria and Frank were the only tenants. It appears that Frank remained an only child, as no records list other children in the home. Alfredo is described as a carpenter at a box factory. Frank is listed as having completed his fourth year of high school, and according to information provided by his son, also Frank, he attended Manual Training High School (now the John Jay Educational Campus) on Seventh Avenue and Fourth Street in Brooklyn. Zaffiro was still living with his parents on Union Street in 1942 when he filled out his draft registration card.  It describes him as having a light complexion, gray eyes and brown hair, measuring five’ 7″ tall, and weighing 145 pounds. His mother is listed as the person who would always know his whereabouts. His employer is shown as William Kelly, on East 25th Street in Manhattan.

Zaffiro enlisted in New York, in 1942; his civilian occupation was listed as semiskilled occupations in manufacture of paper and pulp. He served as a technician in the 720th Amphibian Tractor Battalion, which conducted many missions in the Pacific Theater. The invention of the amphibious tractor enabled Allied forces to reach islands surrounded by perilous reefs and lagoons that had previously prevented traditional watercraft from landing on their beaches. Some amphibious tractors were fitted with guns and acted as artillery support, while some were fitted for carrying personnel and supplies, both playing a vital role throughout the Pacific. In 1944, Zaffiro was hospitalized for a non-combat-related illness but recovered and returned to active duty. A war diary entry from 1945 indicates that the 720th participated in training exercises at Pearl Harbor. Zaffiro was recognized for his outstanding service on multiple occasions. According to his son, Zaffiro was awarded the Pacific Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Service Medal Asiatic, and World War II Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Zaffiro returned home to Brooklyn and soon decided to settle down. When he and Irene Mauro were issued a marriage license in 1948, The Brooklyn Eagle shows Zaffiro residing at the same Union Street address where he grew up. His obituary mentions that he worked for the United States Postal Service for the remainder of his career, retiring in 1980. Zaffiro and his wife had two sons, Alfred and Frank. In retirement, the couple moved to Bay Ridge. Zaffiro’s family expanded to include two grandsons, then four great-grandchildren. Irene died in 2006 and was laid to rest in Green-Wood Cemetery. Zaffiro passed away in 2019 and was buried at her side. Section 93/105, lot 44806.

Manual Training High School (renamed John Jay Educational Campus).
Frank Zaffiro, later in life.

ZDYRKO, JOHN (1923-1992). Staff sergeant, 356th Fighter Squadron, United States Army Air Force. John Zdyrko was born in Manhattan. According to the 1930 federal census, when he was seven years old, he was living with his parents and siblings at 205 East 33rd Street in Manhattan. He was in school and could read and write. His parents, John and Caroline Zdyrko, were both 38 years of age, and were both born in Poland. Ukrainian was the language spoken at home. A brother, Mike, 15 years old, as well as three sisters, Mary, 17; Alice, 13; and Helen, 11, all lived there as well. A 40-year-old boarder, John Ciplicki, lived with the family.

By the 1940 federal census, John was 17 years of age old, and the family had, by then, moved to Brooklyn, living at 128 Hamilton Avenue. He was in his fourth year at John Jay High School. Nicholas, another son, was 24 years old and sister Anna was 23.

Zdyrko’s World War II registration card shows that, at age 19, he was living at 87 First Place in Brooklyn and employed by Robert Armour in Bayonne, New Jersey. John enlisted on January 7, 1943, and served as a staff sergeant in the 356th Fighter Squadron, 354th Group of the Army Air Force. After arriving in England and then landing in Normandy, John saw major action in Europe, fighting across France. John fought in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes region, the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front. At the end of the war, John was in Germany, and he returned to the United States in late 1945. He was discharged on November 19, 1945. Zdyrko was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for victories in the air.

John married Mary Maresca and they had three children: Michael, John, and Laura. He was a grandfather and died a natural death in Manhattan. He and Mary are interred together. Section 104, lot 44604, grave 633.

John Zdyrko
356th Fighter Squadron.
Unit Map for 354th Fighter Group.