Saluting Our War Heroes - The Buffalo News
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Norman R. Hameister took his uncle's advice and enlisted in the Navy, rather than face the likelihood of the Army drafting him into World War II. His Uncle Charlie knew all about the Army and marching into harm's way. He had served in the  killing fields of World War I. "I had about two years of high school at Hutch-Tech and quit to join the Navy at 17. My uncle sig…

When Angelo C. Ianni arrived at Fort Niagara for processing into World War II, the draftee took notice of other 18-year-olds who were crying. They were homesick, he realized. “You have to understand that back in those days people never left their own communities. Many of these young men had never been away from home,” said Ianni. He did not cry then, but he di…

At 17 years old and a junior at Wellsville High School in 1943, Peter T. Xanthos skipped school for a day and hitchhiked 35 miles to Olean, the nearest Navy recruiting office. “I walked in and there was a petty officer and I told him I wanted to enlist. Everyone wanted to enlist back then. That was the spirit. All my friends were enlisting,” said Xanthos, who rememb…

After graduating from Little Valley High School in 1940, Lester J. Bishop started work in what was the main product produced in Little Valley at the time – knives. “It was a cutlery town, and I went to work at Kinfolks making hunting and butcher knives,” he recalled of his job, which paid 25 cents an hour. Several months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bishop…

The answer for why Jerry C. Bowman joined the Army after graduating East High School can be stated in three words: “I was poor.” The fourth oldest of eight children raised by their mother in public housing off Jefferson Avenue, Bowman said that he needed to move on and make his own way in life. So he took his older brother Carl’s advice and enlisted in the mi…

After completing his sophomore year at Buffalo State College, Larry J. Hunley decided to take a leave of absence. He wanted to experience life beyond the city’s East Side. The 20-year-old enlisted in the Marine Corps, which was more than willing to provide him with a change – though Hunley says it hadn’t occurred to him that he might wind up in the Vietnam War. …

Gregory Sanchez learned about war at an early age, long before he enlisted to help rid the world of Adolf Hitler in World War II. He was 4 years old when he traveled to Spain with his father, who left behind his wife and younger son in Youngstown, Ohio. At the time, Sanchez said he did not know why he was going with his father but as time passed, he realized the purp…

Michael A. Altieri Sr.'s first memories of World War II start when he was 15 years old. He had just returned from a matinee showing of the Buck Rogers serial at the Palace Theater in Schenectady. "I walked into the kitchen and my parents were sitting and listening to their little plastic ivory radio. My dad looked up and said, 'The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.' He w…

As a young boy, Hans G. Reif and other youngsters at his school in Stuttgart, Germany, were given a break from class and marched to the city’s central plaza. Standing amid the crowd, the 10-year-old Hans and his schoolmates watched from a distance as Adolf Hitler stood on a balcony and waved. He says he remembers little more than that. But Reif has clear memorie…

Charles P. Blakely Sr. remembers the rolling hills and vineyards of the Italian countryside and the culture of Rome. There were marble statues of saints in Vatican City that appeared lifelike. There was the thrill of seeing Pope Pius XII up close, waving as he passed through the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, and there was Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Ch…

The sixth born among 11 brothers and one sister, Michael F. Budowski quit Sloan High School at 16 to help his parents pay the bills. He took a job as a busboy at a Deco Restaurant earning $19 a week. Several months later, he hopped on board with the New York Central Railroad scrubbing passenger cars. The work brought him $28 a week. Then a much bigger operation sough…

Jim Cherkauer and several fellow sophomores at Buffalo State College realized chances were “very likely” they would soon be drafted to serve in World War II. So they did their homework and checked out their options. Cherkauer wanted to fly, so he decided to enlist in the Army Air Forces Reserve. “I didn’t pick the Navy because there was a chance that when I …

When Anthony J. Queeno was 14, he joined the Civil Air Patrol because he was in love with the military and aviation. Members of the patrol gathered at the Bell Aircraft plant on Elmwood Avenue for their meetings.  The teenager stood at attention at the plant’s gate with the night watchman and allowed only air patrol members admittance. At other times, he accompanie…

George Watts graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School in 1941 and quickly discovered that job opportunities for a young black man were limited and paid very poorly. His entry into the workforce began at a women's dress shop  in downtown Buffalo as a stock boy, porter and whatever else the boss required of him.  And though the work could be demeaning, Watts says …