2017 Massachusetts Medal of Liberty Heroes
The first Medals of Liberty were awarded to the surviving next of kin, in honored memory of the following killed-in-action heroes, on Veterans Day 2017 in a ceremony at the Italian American Veterans Hall in Milford:
- Private E2 Rudolph J. Fino, U.S. Army
Fino was the first service member from Milford to be killed in action. Fino attended Milford Schools. He was assigned to the Field Artillery Branch at Fort Bragg. He served in World War II and was killed April 6, 1943 at age 25 .
- Sergeant Edward C. Bagnoli, U.S. Army
Bagnoli served in World War II and was killed in action on June 25, 1944 in France from wounds. He died the same day that his son Edward Charles, Jr. was born. He was 31 years old.
- Private Eugene F. Cormier, U.S. Marine Corps
Cormier attended St. Mary’s Central Catholic High School and trained at Paris Island, SC. He was killed in action September 22, 1967 in Vietnam while on patrol. He was 20 years old.
- Master Sergeant Robert J. Gritte, U.S. Army
Gritte was born in Milford and was a career man in the Army who served nearly twenty years. He died on March 4, 1967 in a field hospital in Vietnam from wounds suffered in action earlier that same day. He was 37. Gritte was survived by his wife and two sons, Rigi (age 11) and Richard (age 10).
- Sergeant Edward E. Iannitelli, U.S. Army
Iannitelli attended Milford Schools and worked at the Derman Shoe Company. He enlisted in the Army on March 4, 1941. He served in the National Guard stationed in Hinghman, Salisbury and Fort Dix, NJ before going overseas during World War II. He was killed in action on June 11, 1944 in France at age 25.
- Private Jerry R. Lanzetta, U.S. Army
Lanzetta worked for Miscoe Springs and entered the service on April 18, 1942. He trained in Southern Camps before going overseas during World War II. He was killed in action on June 19, 1944 in France when he was 28 years old.
- Lance Corporal David M. St. John, U.S. Marine Corps
St. John was a graduate of Milford High School and worked at Sam’s Pizzeria. He was a machine gunner for the 26th Marine Division. He was killed in action on August 18, 1968 in Thua Thien Province of Vietnam on the day after his 20th birthday. Forty percent of his unit was wiped out in the Central Highlands.
- Gunnery Sergeant Elia P. Fontecchio, U.S. Marine Corps
Fontecchio graduated from Milford High School in 1992. He played football, acted in school plays, and sang in the chorus. He joined the Marines in 1993 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division 1 Marine Expeditionary Force. He was killed in action on August 4, 2004 from injuries he received in battle in AL Anbar Province, Iraq. He was 30 years old and is survived by his parents, twin sister, wife, and 2-year old son. Fontecchio is the last Milfordian to be killed in action.
2018 Massachusetts Medal of Liberty Heroes
Early in 2018, Citizens for Milford collaborated with the Milford Medal of Liberty Committee to search for the surviving next of kin of additional Milfordians who qualify for the Medal of Liberty. Thanks to the outreach conducted by email, Facebook, Milford’s media outlets, and many kind Milford families, all families who are eligible to receive the medal have been contacted. The Medal of Liberty Committee has been working with state officials to process the paperwork.
The Medal of Liberty was awarded to these families in honored memory of the following killed-in-action heroes during the Medal of Liberty Ceremony on May 20, 2018 in Milford Town Hall:
- Seaman Second Class Joseph P. Coscia, U.S. Navy
Coscia was declared dead on December 4, 1943. He was on a boat that was torpedoed in November 1942. He was employed at the Public Cleaners and was 17 years old when he was killed.
- Staff Sergeant James S. Cox, U.S. Army Air Corps
Cox was an Aerial Gunner with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy. He was reported Missing in Action on February 28, 1944 when he was 19 years old and declared dead on the same date. He entered the service in 1944 and went to Fort Devens. He did his basic training in Greensboro, South Carolina and then went to Flexible Gunnery School in Texas and received his silver wings. Cox graduated from Milford High School in 1943.
- Sergeant Robert A. Craddock, U.S. Army
Craddock died in Germany on March 26, 1945 at the age of 30. He graduated from Milford High School and was employed at Nelson’s Garage. After his father died he took over the hotel business of his parents.
- Private Sebastian B. Crivello, U.S. Army
Crivello was killed in Germany on December 11, 1944. He trained at Camp Croft, South Carolina and Fort Meade, Maryland. He was wounded on July 15th and then went back into action. He was 37 years old when his relatives heard of his death. He worked at U.S. Rubber in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
- Staff Sergeant Philip A. D’Alesio, U.S. Army
D’Alesio was wounded on March 1, 1945 and died on the same day. He was 25 years old. He entered the service and was assigned to Company I 181st Infantry. He was employed by the Draper Corporation.
- Sergeant Lawrence G. DeManche, U.S. Army
DeManche was killed in the European Area on June 13, 1944. He was sent to Fort Warren, Wyoming for training. He was employed at the Draper Corporation as a machinist. When he was killed he was 29 years old and left a wife and a 10-year old daughter.
- Technical Sergeant Joseph A. DeMaria, U.S. Army Air Corps
DeMaria was declared missing in the South Pacific as of June 12, 1945 and Killed in Action over Indo China July 5, 1945 at the age of 22. He graduated from Bombers Mechanical School in Biloxi, Mississippi and later graduated as Triggerman. He served in the South Pacific as a tail gunner. Prior to his service he was employed at the Watertown Arsenal.
- Chief Mate Alexander P. Ferrario, U.S. Navy
Ferrario was officially determined to be Missing in Action on November 7, 1944 according to a letter received by his mother. He was serving aboard the USS Growler, a submarine which left Exmouth Gulf, Australia on October 24, 1944 to patrol the South China Sea in the vicinity west of Mindoro, an island in the Philippines. There is a strong possibility that the submarine sank as a result of enemy action in waters known to be controlled by the enemy. He was a graduate of Milford High School, class of 1936 and was a prominent athlete.
- Staff Sergeant Charles E. Fitzpatrick, U.S. Army
Fitzpatrick was a member of the 119th Infantry and was Killed in Action in France on August 8, 1944. He was 25 years old. He graduated from Milford High School and went to Wentworth Institute. He was employed as a printer at the Dennison Corporation in Framingham.
- Private William J. Griffith, U.S. Army
Griffith paid the supreme sacrifice in the European Area on August 6, 1943 at the age of 23. He attended school in Milford and worked for a Tool Company and as a driver.
- Private First Class Anthony Grudinsky, U.S. Army
Grudinsky was 23 years old when he was killed instantly by shell fire during action in Burma. He was killed on February 3, 1945. Grudinsky attended Milford Schools.
- Lieutenant Joseph L. Gubana, U.S. Air Force
Gubana was reported missing after a routine flight over Japan during the Korean War. He had also seen action in World War II as a Mustang P-51 Fighter Pilot assigned to the 68th Fighter Squadron. Lieutenant Gubana was declared dead on August 22, 1952 and was 27 years old. He graduated from Milford High School in 1942. Before he returned to active duty he was employed by the Draper Corporation.
- Private First Class Wayne D. Hamel, U.S. Marines
Hamel was 20 years old when he was Killed in Action on February 5, 1968 in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. He was a Radioman. He graduated from boot camp with Platoon 101 when he was 17. He was sent to school to learn to be an electronic communications and ground radar repairman. Hamel received excellent conduct and proficiency marks. In December 1967 he was sent to Vietnam, and was assigned with Headquarters Battery, 12th Marine Division in Con Thien in Quang Tri Province.
- Captain Paul T. Hayes, U.S. Army
Hayes was the father of 4 children and never saw his baby son Richard. He died of gunshot wounds to the head in France on October 1, 1945. He served in the Army Medical Corps. He was a well known physician, having graduated from Bowdoin College and Tufts Medical School. He was a member of the Milford Hospital Staff and the VFW.
- Lieutenant John G. Hising, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps
Hising was 27 years old when he was killed on November 26, 1943 over New Guinea. He was a co-pilot on a U.S. Flying Fortress. He graduated from Ludwick School of Aeronautics and went to Turner Field in Albany, Georgia. He worked at the Boston Navy Yard before he entered the service.
- Private Francis A. Iadarola, U.S. Army
Iadarola was reported Missing in Action and declared dead on January 2, 1945 at the age of 26. He attended Milford High School and was accepted into the Army in March 1944 and went overseas and was stationed in France. He left a wife and a small son.
- Sergeant Leo A. Iadarola, U.S. Army
Iadarola was 26 years old and reported Missing in Action on May 25, 1944. He was attached to the Infantry and received his training in Maryland, Kentucky and California. He served on the African Campaign and was last heard from in Anzio. He attended school in Hopedale and Milford and was employed at Whitin Machine Works.
- Captain John J. Kalen, U.S. Army
Kalen was 28 years old when he was killed in Vietnam. He was the Commander of Company A 8th Infantry Fourth Division and arrived in Vietnam on July 7, 1969. He was killed on September 17, 1969. He entered the Army as a Private and later received a commendation for being an outstanding trainee at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Captain Kalen worked his way up the ranks and was sent to Officer Training School and became a Regular Army Officer. He was an honor graduate of Northeastern University where he majored in English. In addition to his wife he left a daughter Stephanie, 2 ½ and a son John, 3 months.
- Corporal Alfred L. Kempton, U.S. Army
Kempton was Killed in Action June 8, 1944 in France and was 23 years old when he was killed in battle. Kempton was a 1939 graduate of Milford High School and was a member of the Methodist Church and the Grange. He was employed as a Carpenter for John Erickson before the service.
- Corporal Donald T. Kirby, U.S. Army
Kirby was 25 years old when he was wounded in France on July 11, 1944 and died of his wounds on July 12th. Prior to going to France he was stationed at Camp Edwards and in Hingham. He was a graduate of Milford High School and was employed at the Draper Corporation. He had also worked for the Milford Daily News.
- Private Orville W. Lapham, U.S. Army Paratrooper
Lapham was killed on June 12, 1944 in France. He was 28 years old. He left a wife and a small son. Lapham entered into the service April 19, 1943. He was employed at the Draper Corporation and was a helper at Norman Henry’s Farm in Hopedale.
- Private First Class Lester C. Lavoie, U.S. Marines
Lavoie was Killed in Action in Seoul, Korea on September 21, 1950. He left a son James, five months old. He had served in China and at Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in 1944 interrupting his schooling at Milford High School. He served for four years and re-enlisted in July 1949.
- First Sergeant Frederick J. Luby, Jr., U.S. Army
Luby was 30 years old when he was reported Missing in Action in Belgium. He was a member of the First Army and left with Co I 181st Infantry National Guard. He graduated from St. Mary’s High School and played baseball and football. He was employed at the Draper Corporation. He left a wife and an 11 month old son, Frederick J. Luby III.
- Private Anthony Lucca, U.S. Army
Lucca was 19 years old when he died in France on June 23, 1944, the same day that he was reported wounded. He had only been in France for a few weeks. He trained at Fort Wheeler, Georgia and Camp Meade, Maryland. He attended Milford High School and was employed at the Dermon Shoe Company. He was a member of the VFW and the Sons of Italy.
- Chief Petty Officer Oscar A. Lungren, U.S. Navy
Lungren was reported Missing then listed as dead on May 10, 1944 when he was 47 years old. He was in the Navy for 28 years and served in France two years during World War I. He later served in the Foreign Service in all parts of the world. He was educated in the Milford Public Schools.
- Second Lieutenant Robert A. Mancini, U.S. Army Air Corps
Mancini was reported Missing by a telegram from the War department. He graduated from Milford High School in 1937 and took a course at the Rhode Island School of Design. He was declared dead on January 11, 1944 at the age of 24.
- Aviation Electronics Operator Ralph R. Maxfield, U.S. Navy
Maxfield was 29 years old when he was killed with six other Navy fliers on September 30, 1950 when a twin-engine, long-range bomber crashed at sea 57 miles off Quonset, Rhode Island. The crew of seven perished when the plane exploded and sank. He served in World War II and was an Aerial Gunner on Navy Dive Bombers. He re-enlisted in 1948. Maxfield graduated from Milford High School in 1939 and was a pianist of note, and played in orchestras. He appeared in minstrel shows while at Milford High School.
- Lieutenant Albert E. McKinley, U.S. Army Air Corps
McKinley was a P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter pilot was reported Missing in Action over Belgium on December 24, 1944 and then reported as killed on the same date. He was 25 years old. McKinley was a 1938 graduate of Milford High School and enlisted in 1941. He trained in San Antonio, Texas and was assigned to the 9th Air Force at Fort Stockton, Texas. He took part in the D-Day Operation.
- Corporal Arthur J. Moffi, U.S. Marines
Moffi made the supreme sacrifice when he died from wounds in the South Pacific on June 14, 1944. He was 20 years old. He graduated from Milford High School in 1941.
- Lieutenant Louis J. Nargi, U.S. Army
Nargi was reported Missing in Action when his plane did not return from a bombing mission over Europe. He was Killed in Action on January 11, 1944 over Germany at the age of 24. He was sent to Ellington Field, Texas and transferred to Bombardier School in San Angelo, Texas.
- Private Charles L. Nelson, U.S. Army
Nelson had been in the thickest of fighting in Italy and was killed on May 27, 1944. He was 20 years old. He served in the 70th Company of the State National Guard. He attended Milford Schools and left for overseas on his 19th birthday. He worked as a helper at the Milford Shoe Company.
- Private First Class John Ohannesian, U.S Army
Ohannesian was 20 years old when he was killed in France on March 16, 1945. He attended Milford High School and worked for Whitin Machine Works and the Draper Corporation. He was a member of the 397th Infantry Band at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
- Sergeant Vartan Panagian, U.S. Army
Panagian was 22 years old when it was reported that he was wounded on August 22, 1944 in France. He died on August 24, 1944. He left Milford with Company I as a Corporal. He was a Newspaper Carrier and graduated from Milford High School in 1940. He worked at the Independent Grocery Store.
- Staff Sergeant Wendell T. Phillips, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps
Phillips was Missing in Action over Germany on March 3, 1944 and then officially listed as dead at the age of 28. He made eighteen missions over Germany with the 8th Air Force. He graduated from St. Mary’s High School and attended Holy Cross College. He was employed by the Sellitt Construction Company in South Bend, Indiana.
- Private First Class Hiram J. Philpot, U.S. Army
Philpot died at the age of 37 in France on August 19, 1944. His death was the result of wounds the he received the previous day. He trained at Camp Croft, South Carolina. He worked at the Draper Corporation and the Hingham Shipyard.
- Seaman First Class Peter L. Pomponio, U.S. Navy
Pomponio died of a fractured skull on July 29, 1944. He was on a barge in Italy and was 22 years old. Prior to his service he was a shoe worker in Westborough.
- Private First Class Baldasaro J. (Ben) Porzio, U.S. Army
Porzio was killed in Belgium on January 6, 1945 when he was 19 years old. He graduated from Milford High School in 1942 and played varsity baseball and basketball and served as manager of the football team. He was a member of the Sgt. John W. Powers Post Junior Baseball team and the Boys Club. He was widely known in table tennis tournaments. He was employed at the Derman Shoe and his ambition was to be an athletic coach.
- Private First Class Thomas F. Rogers, U.S. Army
Rogers served in General Mark Clark’s famous Fifth Army. He was Killed in Action May 12, 1944 on the same day that he wrote to his mother saying, “The going is rough, but I’ll be home for Christmas.” He was 21 years old. Rogers enlisted in 1943 after graduating from Milford High School in 1940. He reported to Fort Devens and was assigned to Camp Houle, Texas and served in the Personnel Office. He was sent to Africa and then joined the 5th Army in Italy.
- Staff Sergeant Harold W. Rogerson, U.S. Army
Rogerson was a member of the 564th Bomber Squad and was killed at age 28 in England on December 27, 1944. He was thought to be a victim of a robot bombing. He only had a few more missions before his furlough was due. He graduated from Framingham High School and was employed at the Draper Corporation and the Whiten Machine Company Plant in Cambridge. He was a member of the Congregational Church.
- Hospital Corpsman James V. Rooney, U.S. Navy
Rooney was 21 years old when he was killed in Korea on July 8, 1953 while serving with the First Marine Division. He graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1949 and enlisted in the Navy in 1951 while he was a student at Holy Cross College.
- Corporal David H. Rubenstein, U.S. Army
Rubenstein was 19 years old when he was Killed in Action on July 4, 1944 in France. He was a member of the 87th Chemical Battalion. He graduated from Milford High School in 1943 and enlisted in the Army that fall.
- Radarman 3rd Class Robert T. Slattery, U.S. Navy
Slattery was Killed in Action when his ship the USS Sarsi was struck by a mine and sank off North Korea. He graduated from Milford High School in 1949 and enlisted at the age of 17. He saw duty on the Pacific Coast, Alaskan waters and Panama. He was 20 years old when he was killed.
- F1-C Francis J. Spadoni, U.S. Navy
Spadoni was killed in World War II by an electric shock at the age of 20 and was buried at sea. He graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1942 and went to St. Anselm’s College for one year. He clerked at the First National Store when he was in school.
- Private John V. Steffani, U.S. Army
Steffani died at 19 years old on October 18, 1944 when he was Killed in Action in Italy. He served in the 168th Division known as the Rainbow Regiment, which distinguished itself by remaining in action for 300 days.
- Private John Tomaso, U.S. Army
Tomaso was 25 years old when he was Killed in Action on February 19, 1945. He went to Camp Blanding in Florida where he trained in the Infantry and then transferred to the Ranger section. He was a member of the Sons of Italy Lodge.
- Private First Class T. Joseph Tusoni, U.S. Army
Tusoni was a star athlete at Milford High School and played basketball, baseball, and football. He graduated in 1942 and worked for Whitin Machine Works. He trained at Camp Croft, South Carolina. He died at the age of 20 on December 12, 1944 in the European theater.
- Staff Sergeant Joseph F. Von Flatern, Jr., U.S. Army
Von Flatern was 19 years old when he was wounded in battle on October 18, 1944. He died on November 12, 1944. Joseph was known as “Red” and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in the class of 1943. He excelled in baseball, basketball, football, and tennis.
- Staff Sergeant Harold I. White, U.S. Army
White served with the 80th Division of the 3rd Army in Germany. He was killed on April 11, 1945 at the age of 28. He served in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. He attended Milford High School and worked at Kartiganer. He was a member of the VFW.
- Private First Class Thomas W. Wilson, U.S. Army
Wilson was 26 years old when he was killed in action in the Philippines on April 15, 1945. He was serving in the Americal Infantry Division of the 8th Army. Private Wilson trained at Fort Hood Texas and Fort Ord, California. He left a wife and two children, John and Margaret Ann.
Editor’s Notes: 1) The biographies of the medal recipients were crafted from information in the “Wall of Heroes” located at Memorial Elementary School in Milford, Massachusetts, which was a Second Grade Project conducted in 2000 under the guidance of Jo-Ann De Maria Morgan. 2) This page includes only the names of Milford’s fallen heroes whose families chose to participate in the Medal of Liberty program. We humbly recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of all of Milford’s active military, veterans, and fallen heroes.