Married June 7, 1952 to Phyllis (Crino) Siracuse.
Children: Anthony G. Siracuse, Dominic J. Siracuse, Gracia J. Siracuse, Joseph Siracuse, II, LuAnne Gilman, Susan Colston,
Grandchildren: Anthony III, Renae, John, Dominick, Robert, Mark, Kayla, Danielle, David, Genene, Michael, Anthony, Joseph III, Matthew, Nicholas, James II, Thomas, Grace, Emily, Samantha.
Great-grandchildren: Anthony III, Brandon, Christen, Gianna, Joseph, Thomas, Isabella
Brothers: Angelo (Bange), Anthony (Nin), Louis (Hap), Salvatore (Sal)
Medals and awards: American Theater Ribbon; Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with three Bronze Stars; Good Conduct Medal; Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star; Meritorious Unit Award; Bronze Arrowhead;World War II Victory Medal; Purple Heart
Military qualifications: combat infantry badge, rifle marksman, parachutists badge.
Battles and campaigns: New Guinea, Southern Philippines, Luzon
Joseph S. Siracuse was born Dec. 19, 1919, at home, at 109 Cushing St. Fredonia. Joseph was the son of Anthony and Anna (Barone) Siracuse. In the Siracuse family of seven, all of his four brothers were in the military, one in World War I, two in World War II, and one in Korea. As a child he attended Eagle Street School in Fredonia, and went on to St. Mary's Academy for a year. Then, he also spent one year at No. 10 Dunkirk Industrial High, learning the machine shop trade. He recalls hanging out at Barker Common, playing all the games of his time. His first job was at Salsina Canning Co., of Fredonia, as a cooker, which paid 50 cents an hour, at the time. While in high school: football, baseball, basketball, and track were his favorite sports.
On Feb. 10, 1942, he was drafted, but had a chance for deferment because the canning factory was a contractor for the war, but Joe turned it down. So on a February day in 1942, Joe was standing outside city hall with his friends; Carl Schibetta, Joe Joy, Anthony Leone, and Guy Provenzano, they all headed for Buffalo Post Office, and were inducted into the U.S. Army.
After all the paperwork they were bussed to Fort Niagara to spend their first night in the army. Next morning's trip took them to Fort McClellan in Alabama, where basic training would last eight weeks. This was Joe's first time away from home.
After basic came Camp Shelby in Mississippi. Joe was attached to the 138 Division 149 Infantry Battalion. This was the first time he noticed the differences between living in the north and living in the south. At Camp Shelby, Joe was trained with a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle).
In August 1942, Joe learned that paratroopers were getting an extra $50 a month pay for jumping. At his rate of $30 per month, it was a no-brainer for Joe to become a paratrooper. After signing up for paratrooper school, he was now headed for Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to train with the 507th Regiment, and needed to pass the following courses to qualify for jumping school: Karate, Kung-Fu, Martial Arts and countless hours of calisthenics, which included unlimited hours of running. His first jump was from a 75-foot tower, then advancing to the 150 foot tower.
This jump was designed to open the chute at 20 feet. Other qualifications to pass paratrooper school were you had to pack your parachute for your first 5 jumps yourself. In recalling his very first jump, Joe explained that your whole life flashed before you when jumping out of a C47 airplane. One of the happiest days in Joe's life was the day he passed his paratroopers final test, receiving his first set of wings with the biggest thrill, being able to put on a pair of paratrooper boots.
Now off to Shrievport, La., for war games at Camp Benning. Joe being assigned to the 507th the orders were to report to England, but a group of 12 volunteers had the option to go to the South Pacific instead. Joe being one with his hand up first, received the option to go to the South Pacific instead of England. As the war progressed Joe later found out that the 507 he was originally assigned to ended up in Normandy with a very high rate of casualties. Most of the men he attended war game school with had died at Normandy.
Joe's first jump was in Lai, New Guinea, and he participated there in two beach landings. Now headed for Dutch East Indies for another jump to set up an LZ (landing zone) for a U.S. airstrip, this was prior to the Lyte Invasion. As the unit moved on Joe found himself in the Philippines, a few days after D Day. His unit participated in a lot of island hopping, which included Mendoro Island in the Phillipines, the Negro Islands, and Mendenala Island. In February 1944, another jump was made in Corregadore. The jump that was made in Corregadore was listed as the shortest jump from a military registered during the war!
After the jump they spent months living in tents. In February on 1945 Joe found himself in Mendoro, which was a rest camp for soldiers awaiting orders. On a short wave radio, it was broadcast, that an atomic bomb had been dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan, and that the war would be coming to an end.
Mendoro, in the southern Phillipines, was the camp where troops received orders to go home. Older guys with points were leaving, and newer guys were coming in from the states. Joe was doing the work of a 1st Sgt. but he only had the rank of Sgt. He was asked to stay and organize a transition of men coming and going, and for that Joe missed the Christmas of 1945 back home. Orders came shortly after and Joe finally was able to head home.
Finally in California, Joe was waiting for the next morning's military troop train to take him to Camp Addaberry in Indianapolis to receive his discharge. He recalls the troop train from California took six days to get to Indianapolis because the train stopped at every city to let off returning troops and at times had to wait for regular trains to pass them by. Once he got to Indianapolis it only took him one day to get to Buffalo by train. Arriving in Buffalo at midnight, he then took a cab to the auditorium which cost 50 cents. From the auditorium, Joe hitchhiked home; a truck picked him up and he got to Dunkirk at 4 a.m. The truck driver dropped him off at the Harbor Diner on Lake Shore Drive, where the cook, Mr. Solazzo, made him a full breakfast for free.
He later walked around Fifth and Central Ave. until 6 a.m. to catch the bus to Fredonia. Once he got off the bus he met his uncle Charles Schibetta. The new home now was on 78 Orchard, he walked in, woke everyone up, and the party began.
One week later, Joe found a job at the Fredonia Cement Block Co.,where he was making cement blocks and burial vaults. He worked there for two years. He later found employment at the steel plant as an automatic bar maker. He worked there for 33 years, retiring in 1983. Mr. Siracuse enjoys gardening and loves watching sports on TV.
Where do you begin with a story like this? This 90-year-old young veteran could have had a book written about his experiences not only in the military, but also in life. Twenty grandchildren naming each one in order with the correct spelling. So many stories that haven't been told for years, but came out as if they happened yesterday. You could see the love he has for his family, and you could feel his loss for those military men who died protecting our country in the line of duty.
Joe Siracuse loves this country, there is no doubt in his loyalty. He had not one regret for doing what he was told to do and by seeing all his military records he done them very well! After hearing his story it wouldn't surprise me if someone told me that Joe was going to make another jump. I know in Joe's mind that he could! If you should know Joe Siracuse or have an opportunity to sit down with him, do so and just listen! You will then know why Joe Siracuse is our hero of the week.