World War II Story – by Rio Vitale


A toast to the end of World War II and well wishes for the men of the Hill (St Louis Italian Neighborhood) to return safely soon. Courtesy of Anna Jo Hof

Vincent Vitale just one Italian American serving his country in WWII

At the age of 33 with four children under seven years old and another child on the way, my father was drafted into WWII. During training camp he was the oldest person there and would always be lagging behind the younger soldiers.  An officer stopped him during a run and asked his age.  He stopped out of breath and said 33, at which the officer said…. you’re doing great keep moving!

Another time  in the plain they were practicing  bailing out and had their parachutes ready to go.  The officer shouted bailout practice and everyone stood up and prepared to jump out of the plane.  My father did not stand up.  The officer came to him and asked what was the problem.    My father said “There is nothing wrong with this plan, I’m not jumping out.”  The officer said we are not jumping out, I just want to see how fast you can be ready.  My father jumped up and said “I can be ready real fast”.

Vince was a Tail-gunner and during one training mission there were engine problems.  The noise level was so great that he  passed out and damaged both eardrums.  He was grounded and served his remaining time in the states.  He would tell me of his guilt about having meals to eat serving in the mail room,  while his family was hungry at home and others were losing their lives.   After the defeat of Germany,  my father received a hardship discharge and returned home to St Louis.  Five more children were born after his return; for a grand total of ten!


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