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:
- 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 .
- Sargeant 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 Sargeant 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).
- Sargeant 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 Sargeant 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.
Dozens more Milford residents qualify for the Medal of Liberty and will be awarded the medal in future ceremonies.
Editor’s Note: 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.