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.

Two-branch veteran John Cervone

After serving in the Navy for 16 years, mainly in intelligence, John Cervone signed on with the Army, spending another 14 years, principally in communications. The oldest of three sons, John Cervone was born in Jamaica Heights, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, to Giachino and Benita Russo Cervone. Cervone’s mother was born in Naples, as were his father’s parents. The family moved to the nearby Springfield Gardens neighborhood to be closer to relatives, whom they visited frequently. “I spent a lot of time with both sides,” Cervone says. Holiday meals began with lasagna and meatballs, were followed by ham …

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Army Corporal Joseph Fabiani

Don’t let the sedate job title fool you. As a combat engineer on the front lines of the Korean War, Joseph Fabiani was constantly under fire. One of five children, Joseph Fabiani was born in 1929 in Donora, Pennsylvania, to Nazzarino and Laura Settimi Fabiani, and grew up with aunts and uncles living in the area. His parents emigrated from Ascoli Piceno, Italy. His mother, a homemaker, baked bread, made ravioli and even brewed root beer. “She was the best cook!” Fabiani said. His father, a steel mill worker, died of stomach cancer attributed to mustard gas poisoning suffered while …

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Navy E4 Gerard Giudice

Having traveled the world during his six years in the Navy, Gerard Giudice’s only regret is that he didn’t make a career of it. The middle of three children, Gerard Giudice was born in Oak Park and grew up in Melrose Park. His father, Ennio, was born in Naples, Italy, and his mother, Rosa, was born of Italian descent in London, England. Giudice fondly recalls traditional Sunday dinners together. “You didn’t miss pasta day! Sunday at noon, 12:30 the latest, we had spaghetti and meatballs, we had mostaccioli, then we had a big bowl of meatballs, sausage, bracioles … it …

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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 when DeFalco was an infant, returned to the East Coast and eventually settled in Oak Lawn, Illinois. DeFalco’s paternal grandparents emigrated from the Abruzzi and Napoli regions in Italy, and his maternal grandparents were born in Germany. As first-generation …

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Army Specialist 4th Class Michael Pesola

A communications specialist for the Army, Michael Pesola served in Germany during the Vietnam War as part of the team that kept the Soviet Union at bay. The older of two sons, Michael Pesola was born in Chicago to Frank and Rose (Mancini) Pesola. His maternal grandparents emigrated from Calabria and his paternal grandparents from Bari. Pesola lived in the Taylor Street “Little Italy” enclave, close to his grandparents and extended family, who were right across the alley in a three-flat. He has vivid memories of the wonderful taste of his grandmother’s ravioli and of pressing grapes for his grandfather’s …

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National Guard airman Joseph Matty

Intent on entering the field of health care, Joseph Matty turned to Uncle Sam for help in pursuing his career by joining the Air National Guard. The oldest of two sons, Joseph Matty was born in Chicago to Ray Matty Sr. and Ann Marie Clark Matty. His paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Palermo, Sicily, and his maternal great-grandparents came from the regions of Calabria and Naples. Matty grew up in the Marquette Park neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. His grandparents lived about four blocks away; aunts, uncles and cousins all lived within a mile and a half of each …

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Air Force navigator Peter Belmonte

A navigator on a KC-135 Stratotanker for the Air Force, Peter Belmonte’s job was to usher aircraft toward what he called “controlled collisions” with planes that required refueling. The middle of three children, Peter Belmonte was born in Waukegan, Illinois, to Louis and Eva Spizzirri Belmonte. His mother emigrated from Marano Marchesato in Calabria, and his father’s ancestors were from that same region. Belmonte’s paternal grandmother lived with them, and he saw relatives from both sides of the family weekly. “Sunday was the day of choice,” Belmonte recalls. “Somebody was dropping by somewhere.” His mother made spaghetti with a sauce …

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Centenarian veteran Ted Micci

Born a century ago in Chicago Heights, Ted Micci is a living testament to the determination of the crews who flew bombing missions over Europe during World War II. Attilio (Ted) Micci was born 100 years ago in his parents’ home in Chicago Heights. Massimo and Frances Rotaloni Micci emigrated from Marche, Italy, and settled in the Hungry Hill Italian neighborhood of the city. Micci’s maternal grandparents lived across the street, and his aunts and uncles lived down the block. They all shared Sunday dinners together. Micci loved everything his mother prepared. “She was a good cook,” he says. Micci …

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Marine Judge Advocate General Bob Larsen

  A newly minted Marine at the start of the Gulf Wars, Bob Larsen was picked to serve in the courtroom rather than on the battlefield.  Bob Larsen was born in Arlington, Virginia. One of four children born to Robert L. and Joan Campagna Larsen, he also has a brother and sister from his father’s second marriage. With roots in the Chicago area, the family returned here when Larsen was 4 years old, settling in the Edison Park neighborhood, then moving to Park Ridge when he was 13. Larsen’s mother prepared traditional Italian pasta dishes, but the family also enjoyed …

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Army Sergeant Luco Clarizio

After guarding the Korean DMZ for most of his tour of duty in the Army during the Vietnam War, Luco Clarizio watched over fallen soldiers returning to the States, escorting their caskets from the airport to the cemetery. The oldest of two sons born to Dominick and Mary (Viola) Clarizio, Luco was brought into this world by his maternal grandmother in a fourth-floor walk-up on Loomis Street in Little Italy. “I was born blue, and my grandma put me in the oven,” he says. His parents were born in Chicago, and his grandparents emigrated from Calabria and Bari. The family …

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