The Latest From the Museum

Sports Hall gives generously in founder’s memory

Museum President Paul Basile couldn’t believe his ears. National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame Executive Board Member and Legal Counsel Enrico Mirabelli was calling to inform him that the sports hall would be donating $5,000 to the museum! The remarkably generous bequest was given in memory of founder George Randazzo’s military service. Paul gathered intel from museum curator Steve Corbo, a longtime friend of Randazzo, sharing the following with the audience at the NIASHF’s Nov. 9 gala. “You may not know this, but George served in the First Air Cav during Vietnam. No division of the Army suffered more casualties during the war than that division,” Paul said from the podium. “He earned a Purple Heart for wounds sustained during combat, and he fought at La Drang, one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the war. It is truly an honor to accept this donation in that memory.”

Defense Department hails ESGR stalwart Renato Bacci

Colonel Renato Bacci, U.S. Army (Retired), was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service in a ceremony at the Pentagon Office Complex in Washington D.C. on Nov. 15. He was recognized for his service as state chair of the Illinois Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve from October 2013 to September 2019. The award was presented by ESGR Chairman Ronald E. Bogle (on the left in the photo). A museum board member, Bacci was hailed for his exceptional leadership, dedication and commitment to the mission of the Illinois Committee and for significantly enhancing and sustaining employer support for the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces Guard and Reserve.

Record crowd attends presentation by WW II vet

A near-capacity crowd turned out on Nov. 10 to hear Ralph Triggiano share his wartime experiences as a recon photographer for the Navy during World War II. Museum curator Steve Corbo did a splendid job of setting the stage, leading Ralph in an hour-long conversation that covered topics ranging from military might and the hazards of war, to life on board and on shore, and Nagasaki from the air and on the ground after the atomic blast. “This really helped me,” Ralph shared during a quiet moment after the event. His photographs will be on display at the museum through the end of the year. Please visit us between 1 and 4 any Saturday.

Troiani tells untold tale of warfare on the lakefront

It was all hands on deck when board member Joe Troiani presented an acclaimed PBS documentary at the museum on Dec. 7. “Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan” tells the untold tale of a program that trained more than 15,000 carrier pilots off the shores of the Windy City during World War II. The training took place on a pair of coal-fired, side-wheel passenger steamers transformed into “flattops,” with scores of trainees overshooting their mark and sending their planes to the bottom of the lake. The documentary charts the recent recovery of those rare war birds and the ingenious training program that changed the course of the war in the Pacific. A retired Navy commander, Troiani set the stage for the screening with a lively AV presentation that touched on the program and tracked the success of these brave pilots after their training was complete.

Corbo wows the crowd at recent veterans meeting

Museum curator Steve Corbo was the featured speaker at the quarterly meeting of the Veterans For Unification, held on Nov. 2 at the Oak Park Public Library. After a rousing round of “Taps” by Tom Day, founder of Bugles Across America, Steve addressed the group about the museum’s history, mission and exhibits. In addition to viewing a three-minute video tour of the museum, the audience was treated to the museum’s new traveling exhibit, assembled by Steve. On display were military artifacts such as helmets, uniforms, medals and patches representing all branches of the service, covering World War II to the present. The exhibit even included a highly prized World War II samurai sword!

Legendary Italian marching band pays a visit

Board member Lorenzo Fiorentino gave a private tour of the Italian American Veterans Museum to members of the Fanfara dei Bersaglieri while they were in town for the Columbus Day Parade. The Fanfara dei Bersaglieri is an elite Italian military band known for its plumed hats and tradition of running in formation while performing. Fiorentino was honored by the Bersaglieri for combat operations that he conducted with them while he was deployed to Afghanistan.

Police Association hails Liture at annual gala

IAVM board member Carl Liture was in good company on Oct. 26 as one of four honorees at the Italian American Police Association’s annual gala. He shared the stage with Chicago Alderman Nick Sposato, Illinois State Police District Commander Jason LoCoco and Circuit Court Judge William Raines. A Navy veteran of World War II who witnessed the official surrender of the Empire of Japan, Liture served as a Chicago Police Officer for 30 years. Carl is pictured between IAPA President Tony Langone and immediate past president and IAVM board member Phil Tenerelli

Fiorentino tells a tale of dreams deferred in war-torn Afghanistan

While Army Major Lorenzo Fiorentino was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, from March 2004 to March 2005, he noticed that the Afghan people could make just about anything. Within weeks, he organized a bazaar at his military base where local vendors could sell their wares, stimulating the economy and giving the soldiers an opportunity to buy gifts to mail home to loved ones. One day, one of his soldiers introduced him to a widow who pitched him on the idea of organizing fellow Afghan women to create and sell dolls representing the various tribes of Afghanistan. A museum board member, Fiorentino offered a stirring account of the initial success and ultimate demise of his economic development efforts at an April 27, 2019, AV presentation at the museum. On display during event were artifacts from and maps of Afghanistan along with a colorful array of dolls.


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