War Stories

Army Corporal Donald Ferrone

A bus driver with his father’s sightseeing company before World War II, Donald Ferrone played a key role in a unit charged with transferring materiel from England to Germany after the war. Donald Ferrone was born in Oak Park, Illinois, to Henry and Filomena Trimarco Ferrone, who were from the Little Italy on Taylor Street. He had one younger brother, […]
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Army First Lieutenant Mike Gasparro

A First Lieutenant in the Army, Mike Gasparro went from training soldiers at Fort Lewis, Washington, to leading them on aerial assaults from Firebase Bastogne in South Vietnam. The oldest of two sons, Mike Gasparro was born in Chicago to Michael and Theresa Fonzino Gasparro. His paternal grandparents emigrated from Senerchia in 1917, and his maternal grandparents also came from […]
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Navy Captain James Belmonte

Initially enlisting for a four-year term, Capt. James Belmonte is approaching 30 fulfilling years in the Navy, with 15 different jobs and four tours on aircraft carriers under his belt. James M. Belmont was born in Highland Park, Illinois, to James and Barbara Brain Belmont. He has one sister. Belmont was 15 years old when the family moved to Deerfield. […]
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Army Sergeant E5 Patrick Mauro

Originally trained by the Army as a typist, Patrick Mauro insisted on becoming a paratrooper and ended up guarding the border between West and East Germany during the Cold War. The fourth of six children, Patrick Mauro was born and raised in Blue Island, Illinois, to Peter and Caroline Jones Mauro. He grew up in a town that was mostly […]
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Army T/5 John Misasi

As a mechanic and driver during World War II, John Misasi helped keep the American tank assault rolling across Europe toward the Nazi capital. One of three children, John Misasi was born in Melrose Park to Francesco and Maria Nardi Misasi. Both parents emigrated from Calabria, his father from Paterno and his mother from Dipignano. Misasi grew up in Melrose […]
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Army Pfc. Richard Colucci

Part of the Occupation Force in Japan after the war, Richard Colucci pivoted from his training in chemical warfare and as a paratrooper to help rebuild the shattered nation by finding jobs for its citizens. Richard Colucci was born in Chicago in November 1927 to Dominic and Marie Bongeorno Colucci. He grew up in the Taylor Street Little Italy neighborhood, […]
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Staff Sergeant Steven Decker

Stationed in Italy during the Vietnam War, Steven Decker had a remarkable vantage point on the 1968 crisis in Czechoslovakia as an air traffic controller at the U.S. Air Base in Aviano. The middle of three children, Steven Decker was born in Chicago to Roy and Kathryn Tomasello Decker, who were living near North Avenue and Larrabee. When Decker was […]
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Army Private Vincent Speranza

Barely out of high school, Vincent Speranza fought nonstop across Europe from the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 until the Nazis surrendered in May 1945. One of eight children, Vincent Speranza was born in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan in 1925 to Francesco and Francesca Paratori Speranza. Francesco immigrated from Palmi, Calabria, and Francesca from Sciacca, Sicily. […]
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Air Force/Guard veteran Victor Guerrieri

A member of the Air Force and Air National Guard for 40 years, Victor Guerrieri was responsible for all communications on base and in the field of battle during a nine-month deployment to Iraq in 2010. The second of six children, Victor Guerrieri was born in Chicago to Carmen and Rita (Mariano.) The family lived in his maternal grandparents’ building […]
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Captain Ralph L. DeFalco III (U.S. Navy, Ret.)

Fueled by a lifelong passion for education, Ralph L. DeFalco III enjoyed a stellar 25-year career in Naval Intelligence that took him from the Midwest to the Middle East and our nation’s capital. The eldest of five children, Ralph L. DeFalco III was born in Connecticut to Mary Ann Mueller and Ralph L. DeFalco Jr. The family moved to Chicago […]
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