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 Seabee Anthony Pucillo

As a Navy Seabee, Anthony Pucillo helped create housing and infrastructure for installations throughout the Pacific after the Korean War. The oldest of three sons, Anthony Pucillo was born in Chicago to Ernest and Theresa (FioRito) Pucillo. The family lived in the Jane Adams Projects on Taylor Street until Pucillo was 5 years old. “We moved around quite a bit,” he says. Both parents were born in Chicago, and his grandparents emigrated from Sicily and Calabria. A “very good cook,” Pucillo’s mother made traditional Italian dishes in addition to fried chicken and breaded veal steak, two meals he especially liked. …

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Army mortar squad leader Alex Fosco

Suffering 75 percent hearing loss as a member and then leader of a mortar squad in the push toward Berlin, Alex Fosco took part in three major battles on the way to victory over the Nazis. The oldest of five children and only son, Alex Fosco was born on Sept. 19, 1925, in Chicago to Alex and Mary Vespa Fosco. The family lived in the Italian neighborhood at Taylor and Halsted streets. Fosco’s father was born in France, but his family was originally from Pizzone, Italy. Fosco enjoyed spending time with his extended family, especially his maternal grandmother, Angelina Vespa. …

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Army Sergeant Louis Mirabelli

Originally assigned to the Army Finance Branch in Kentucky, Louis Mirabelli soon found himself behind the controls of a tank on the battlefields of Korea. One of six children, Louis (Lou) Mirabelli was born in Chicago. His parents, Enrico and Mariane (Mirabelli) Mirabelli, emigrated from Cosenza. The growing family moved from apartment to apartment in the vicinity of Taylor Street and Hermitage. “It seemed like every time the people would raise the rent, my father would say, ‘OK, let’s pick up our furniture and move someplace else’ … the old Italian custom,” Mirabelli says. The Italian neighborhood was a haven …

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U.S. Army Colonel Daniel Baggio (Retired)

As a media specialist for 12 of his 33 years in the Army, Daniel Baggio regularly put himself in harm’s way to spotlight the positive impact the American military has around the world. The oldest of two sons, Daniel L. Baggio was born in Rockford, Illinois, to Giordano and Beverly (Kemper) Baggio. The family lived in the city’s South Side Italian neighborhood surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Baggio’s paternal grandparents immigrated from Sarcedo. “Every Sunday, we went to my nonna’s house, and I will say it to this day: She was the best cook that ever lived.” His …

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Navy machinist mate Al Centofante

A Navy machinist mate during World War II, Al Cenofante kept everything from landing crafts to full-fledged attack transports running smoothly. One of four children, Al Centofante was born in Chicago to Angelo and Teresa Panarese Centofante. The family lived at Polk and Campbell streets, with Teresa selling groceries from a small basement store to make extra money during the Depression. She came to America from the area around Naples; Angelo was from Abruzzo. Centofante grew up in a close-knit neighborhood where the adults all spoke Italian, and the kids played kick the can, hopscotch and hide and seek. His …

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Army Specialist 3 Guy Cardarelli

Stationed in Germany more than a decade after World War II, Guy Cardarelli witnessed firsthand the lingering devastation wrought by fierce Allied bombing. Guy Cardarelli and his twin sister, Judy Ann, were born in Chicago in 1935 to Guido and Marie Mele Cardarelli. They lived behind the family grocery store/meat market on 5th Street and Kedzie Avenue. Cardarelli’s father immigrated from Morrovalle, Italy, and his mother’s family from Castelvetere in Campania. His father passed away shortly before Cardarelli’s fourth birthday, and the family moved in with his maternal grandparents and uncle in the North Austin neighborhood. Cardarelli grew up in …

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Father/son soldiers Joseph & Anthony Siciliano

Though only 2 years old when his father, Joseph, was killed in action during World War II, Anthony Siciliano’s life was profoundly shaped by his dad’s bravery and sacrifice. Anthony J. Siciliano was born in Chicago on Nov. 9, 1942, to Joseph and Mary (Parise). His maternal grandparents emigrated from Sicily, and his paternal grandparents from Naples and Calabria. The extended family lived in the predominantly Italian neighborhood surrounding Taylor and Halsted streets. World War II raged on, and shortly after Siciliano was born, his father deployed to the South Pacific, where he built air strips and roads as a …

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Marine gunner Giovanni Insolia (Vietnam)

Persuaded by a smooth-talking recruiter to join the Marines during the height of the Vietnam War, Giovanni Insolia survived an endless round of helicopter assaults and enemy ambushes as a member of the ill-fated Foxtrot Company. Giovanni Insolia grew up in Solarino, a small Sicilian town in the province of Siracusa. One of six children born to Paolo and Sebastiana Teodoro Insolia, he was surrounded by extended family throughout his childhood. Insolia’s father made very little money as the town barber, in most cases receiving goods like wheat in exchange for his services. When his family emigrated to Chicago under …

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Army cameraman Gino Bartucci (Vietnam)

Born in Italy and trained by the Army as a cameraman, Gino Bartucci toured the country photographing atomic bombs, filming bombers flying overhead and helping create documentaries. Gino Bartucci was born in Malvitani di Rende, a small village in Calabria. Of the nine children born to Vincenzo and Maria Carmella (Pisello) Bartucci, six survived infancy. The family farm provided almost everything they needed. “We didn’t have to buy anything but salt, sugar … that’s about it,” Bartucci says. He attended a one-room school with about a dozen students. In 1955, Bartucci’s father immigrated to Chicago, bringing one son and his …

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Marine machine gunner Paul Calabrese (Vietnam)

Mere months before full-scale battles raged across Vietnam, Paul Calabrese engaged in deadly skirmishes in the jungles around his base camps to ward off enemy incursion. The oldest of four sons, Paul Calabrese was born in Chicago to Joseph and Betty (Spindler) Calabrese. They lived in a family-owned six-flat on the West Side of Chicago until moving to Oak Park when Calabrese was 6 years old. He recalls Sunday dinners and Christmas gatherings at his paternal grandparents’ home. “I remember grandma making raviolis all the time and they lived in the basement,” says Calabrese. He explains that his grandparents had …

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