War Stories

Army Sergeant E5 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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Army Pfc. Frank Pisani

A popular singer, comedian, impressionist and songwriter, Frank Pisani took his act to the next level while serving in the Army Reserves. One of four children, Frank Pisani was born in Chicago to Francesco and Lucia DeCarolis Pisani. His parents emigrated from the province of Potenza in Italy and settled in the Grand and Western neighborhood known as “The Patch.” […]
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Army E4 Specialist Cosima Risolvo

Born and raised in Italy, Cosima Risolvo joined the U.S. Army in search of adventure. Her travels took her throughout Europe and included an extended stay in the town of her birth. One of five children, Cosima Risolvo was born in Taranto, Italy, to Giuseppe and Maria Buda Risolvo. Her maternal grandparents were from Sicily and Bari, and her paternal […]
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Petty Officer Third Class Leonardo Aiello

Fascinated by America during his youth in Italy, Leonardo Aiello served both nations admirably during a three-year stint in the U.S. Navy. One of four children, Leonardo Aiello was born in Bagheria, Sicily, to Angelo and Angela Buttitta Aiello. He grew up near grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides of the family. Among his favorite meals were two […]
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