Linda Grisolia

Linda Grisolia is a longtime Fra Noi correspondent, having contributed Onori and War Stories features over the years. She is a proud founding member of the Italian American Veterans Museum at Casa Italia and is a member of the board of directors. Many of the Italian-American veterans she interviewed for the Fra Noi were featured in the documentary, “5000 Miles from Home”, which aired on Channel 11. As a child, she remembers paging through her grandpa’s Fra Noi newspaper, fascinated with the Italian words, never dreaming that one day she would be a correspondent for that wonderful publication.

Navy Captain James Belmont

Initially enlisting for a four-year term, James Belmont 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. In 1901, his great-grandfather, Luigi Belmonte, emigrated to Chicago’s Little Italy from Castrolibero, a small town in Calabria. He went home to marry his sweetheart in 1906, and when they returned to the Chicago area in 1913 and settled in Winnetka, …

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Army Sergeant 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 German and Italian. Mauro’s paternal grandfather emigrated from Carovilli, Italy, to Ladd, Illinois, his father’s birthplace. Mauro’s extended family lived in the Taylor Street Italian enclave, and they visited each other regularly. He remembers sharing delicious homemade meals at family …

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Army T/5 John Misasi

John F. Misasi passed away on Oct. 13, 2015. The quotes in this article come from an interview conducted and archived by the Melrose Park Library’s Veterans History Project and are used with the library’s permission. ( 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 Park with his …

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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, moving a couple of times. “I think there was a leash on people. They weren’t allowed to go out,” Colucci chuckles. His maternal grandparents emigrated from Calabria and his paternal grandparents from Naples. All of his extended family lived …

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Air Force 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 3 years old, they moved to Logan Square, where he grew up living close to his Sicilian-born grandparents and his mother’s five siblings and their families. On Sunday mornings, Decker awoke to the smell of sauce cooking in the kitchen. …

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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. When Speranza was 3 years old, they moved to Staten Island, where he grew up amid a large extended family. Every Sunday at noon, the family took turns hosting a traditional spaghetti dinner with all the trimmings. “A real Italian …

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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 Sicilian specialties his grandmother prepared. Cuccia, a “soupy dish” of ceci beans and whole wheat kernels, was served on the Feast of Santa Lucia. “I used to love that,” Aiello says. Sfincione, similar to focaccia, was enjoyed at Christmas. He …

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Airman First Class Paul Greico

As a radio intercept operator during the Korean War, Paul Greico and his team worked around the clock to snatch top-secret Chinese transmissions from the airwaves and pass them along for decryption. The middle of three children, Paul Greico was born in Chicago to Dominic and Carmella Rosso Greico. The family lived at 718 S. Aberdeen St. Greico’s paternal grandfather emigrated from Potenza and eventually bought two apartment buildings connected by a courtyard. “Most of the family lived there,” Greico says. “I was surrounded by aunts and uncles.” His mother’s family emigrated from Calabria and lived in Cicero. Greico’s mother …

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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 grandparents were from Taranto. Risolvo lived near grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. “We grew up almost as brothers and sisters with my cousins,” she says. Gatherings were not limited to the weekends. “Family visits were spontaneous, and serving dinner, snacks …

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Army Reservist 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.” Pisani’s father, a barber, gradually brought his brothers over from Italy. His mother, a seamstress, prepared delicious meals, including homemade bread and pasta. “Everything my mother made was really great,” Pisani says, “but I was always looking for American bread, …

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