An important part of the Taylor Street Archive is devoted to our Veterans, those Italian Americans who served with distinction in defense of America. Following is some background information, as well as stories and photographs.
Italian American War Veterans
Italian Americans have always played an important role in fighting as part of America’s Armed Forces. From the American Revolution through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Italian Americans have contributed and sacrificed for America.
The Greatest Generation
Since the focus of the Taylor Street Archives (TSA) is on the immigrants who settled in Chicago’s Little Italy, and their offspring who were born in America, we will concentrate on our Veterans from World War II, the Greatest Generation.
It has been estimated that more than 1.5 million Italian Americans served in World War II. There were thousands upon thousands of first generation Italian American warriors who sacrificed life, limb and beyond for their country. Many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, while many others were wounded. Thousands of Gold Stars, signifying the death of a warrior, hung from the windows in all of the Little Italys scattered throughout America.
Through the long years of World War II, those family members left waiting at home feared every knock on the door, afraid it would bring a telegram announcing the death of a loved one.
257 Banner – Bowen Country Club Alumni who served in World War II. Two hundred fifty seven members of Bowen Country Club fought for our country in World War Two. A banner hung in the BCC dining room to commemorate these 257 known alumni of Bowen Country Club who had gone off to fight. Those BCC family members, decades later, were recognized, and rightfully so, as part of the ‘Greatest Generation.’
Many of the BCC alumni did not return. Many came back with serious injuries. Of those Vince Romano came to know, Mike Garippo died during the invasion of Germany, in 1945. George Corvino died soon after he came home, spending his last years lying face down on a cot. Shorty Ray, blinded in the European campaign, visited BCC every day. He was a constant reminder of what it took to be a member of that Greatest Generation. Vito Favia, whose story and photographs follow on this Veterans Page, was killed in Iwo Jima. He was awarded, posthumously, the Silver Star. Vito lived on Peoria Street, just three doors from Vince.
Coming soon: copies of the BCC Newsletter with letters from some of the 257 alumni.
Vito Favia, A Fallen Warrior
Vito Favia, a son of Chicago’s Little Italy, served in the Marine Corps as a Sargeant. He died at 22 years of age on the sands of Iwo Jima on March 10, 1945. Vito was born to Michael and Mary Favia, and was one of four siblings. He grew up on Peoria Street, in the Hull House neighborhood. Vito graduated from Holy Guardian Angel Grammar School and St. Ignatius High School. While growing up, he attended the Bowen Country Club summer camps and was active in many neighborhood organizations, including the Catholic Youth Organization.
Vito was inducted into the Marine Corps in 1942 and, after basic training, joined the 4th Raider Battalion as a demolition expert. He saw action on Guadalcanal, Bouganville, Munda, Tinina Island and Guam. On Iwo Jima, he volunteered for a special patrol to destroy a Japanese bunker that was stopping forward troop movement. He was hit by enemy fire and although seriously wounded, Vito was successful in placing a demoliton charge that destroyed the Japanese bunker. Vito died from his wounds on March 10, 1945.
During his years of service to America, Vito received many awards, including both the Purple Heart Metal and the Silver Star Metal after his death. On March 29, 1945, his parents received the Western Union telegram announcing his death. Many letters of condolences were received by Mr. and Mrs. Favia, including one from President Roosevelt.
Coming soon: Vito Favia photographs, information and copies of letters.
The speech was given by Vince Romano on December 7, 2007 – the Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Vince participated in a discussion at the Italian Cultural Center in Stone Park, Illinois. The discussion was about the experience of Chicago Italians during World War II and the aftermath experienced by our Veterans upon their return home.
The speech Vince gave outlines the many contributions made by Italian Americans – all of which were overlooked by Alistair Cooke in his major TV series called, “America: The Immigrant.” Vince questions why Mr. Cooke decided to overlook the likes of a Vito Favia, or John Basilone (the only enlisted man in WWII to win both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, the two highest awards given by this country for valor under fire) or an Enrico Fermi, or countless others, when he chose who to depict as being representative of the contributions made by Italian Americans.
Every Italian American in every neighborhood was maligned when Alistair Cooke deduced, in his nationally televised program, that Alphonse Capone was representative of their contributions to America. See the link below for the full text of the speech.
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