SERGEANT ANTONIO PARADISO; U.S. ARMY

January 14, 1896 (Barra, Italy) – October 25, 1918; 22 years old; engaged to be married to Minnie Tortorella, 63 Spring Street, Norwalk; Minnie refused to believe the rumors her fiancée had been killed according to an article in the January 24, 1919 edition of The Norwalk Hour
Last local address: 5 Bates Court, South Norwalk
Entered the service June 20, 1917
Serial number 64349
26TH INFANTRY DIVISION, 102ND INFANTRY REGIMENT, COMPANY D

Arrived in the United States from Italy on May 21, 1913.

Member of the Luiggi Zuppetta Society, Italian Protective Society, and belonged to the Italian Republican Club.

Killed in action at Epieds, France.

From an unknown newspaper found in newspaper clippings in the Norwalk History Room, Norwalk Library

SERGEANT PARADISO IS KILLED IN ACTION

Miss Minnie Tortorella of 63 Spring Street received the following letter from Adjutant General Austin R. Parker at Washington DC yesterday telling her that her fiancé, Sergeant Tony Paradiso, of Company D, 102nd Regiment, had been killed in action on October 25. Th letter in full follows:

Miss Minnie Tortorella
63 Spring Street
South Norwalk, Connecticut

Madam: – I deeply regret to inform you that Sergeant Tony Paradiso, Company D, 102nd Infantry, was killed in action October 25 while serving as a member of the American expeditionary forces. Notification to this effect was sent by cable to Louis Paradiso, Barra, Italy, the emergency address left by Sergeant Paradiso.

                                    Respectfully yours,
                                                AUSTIN R. PARKER
                                                            Adjutant General

Sergeant Paradiso was the first Norwalk boy to enlist in the New Haven Blues while they were doing bridge duty in this city. Letters received from the young man conveyed the news that he had been made a sergeant for bravery and that although he had been in nearly every big battle, he had come through unscathed. Sergeant Paradiso, at the time of his enlistment, was an employee of the Crofut & Knapp hat factory and was one of the first to be called away from there. The news came as a blow to the young woman, who, although she had heard rumors to the effect that her fiancé had been killed, nevertheless did not believe them. The couple were to have been married upon Sergeant Paradiso’s return to the United States. The young man was a member of the Luiggi Zuppetta Society and Italian Protective Society. He also belonged to the Italian Republican Club.


From an unknown newspaper found in newspaper clippings in the Norwalk History Room, Norwalk Library

DEAD HERO IS CITED FOR HIS BRAVERY
Sergeant Anthony Paradiso of the 102nd Regiment, Cited for Extraordinary Heroism by the War Department
MADE THE GREAT SACRIFICE IN FRANCE
The Valiant Norwalk Boy Brought Succor to His Wounded Pals Under Heavy Fire and Wiped Out Machine Gun Nest Unaided

Distinctive honors have been conferred by the War Department upon Sergeant Anthony Paradiso, Company D, 102nd Regiment of infantry, Twenty Sixth Division, one of the best liked young men of Italian birth in Norwalk who made the Great Sacrifice on the battlefields of France on October 25th, 1918. The Norwalk hero has been cited for extraordinary heroism in action at Epieds, France, on July 23, 1918. Tony Paradiso, as he was popularly known about the city, was one of the best citizens of Norwalk and the city is proud to have had such a splendid example of American manhood among its residents. For several years previous to his enlistment he had been employed in the Crofut & Knapp hat factory and was regarded in the highest esteem as a faithful worker and a valuable employee. When war was declared he immediately gave up his position and offered his services to the land he loved, the land of his adoption, and became a private in Company D, of the immortal 102nd Infantry, when that unit was known as the New Haven Blues and was billeted at the Norwalk Armory. He and his comrades received by a short training on this side of the Atlantic and it was but a short time when he was landed in France and in a few weeks was at the front. The fearlessness and heroism of this intrepid fighter will never be known until his comrades in the 102nd Regiment return here from France and then the stories of his gallantry in action will be disclosed. He was among the fearless 200 men of the 102nd who were in the trenches before Seicheprey early on morning in June 1918, when they were attacked by a vastly superior number of Prussian Guards, the German shock troops. How this handful of heroic Yanks repelled the attack of the Prussians will never be forgotten and is one of the most wonderful incidents of the war. The Norwalk boy have a valiant account of himself in this engagement as he did in the battle of Chateau-Thierry, in which he took part. In the middle of January 1919, Miss Minnie Tortorella of 65 Spring Street, Sergeant Paradiso’s fiancé, received the heart breaking announcement from the War Department that the valiant son of Norwalk had been killed in action on October 25th, 1918. It was but a few days ago that the War Department announced the citation for extraordinary heroism in action and made known the story which lead to the conference of the deserved honors. It was during the engagement at Epieds, France on July 23, 1918, when Sergeant Paradiso, fighting with rare courage, bayonetted several Germans and then discovering two Hun machine gunners in a tree who were picking off his loyal comrades in large number, he crept through the wheat fields alone and in short time added their names to the German casualty lists. Later he made several trips from Epieds to a dressing station in the woods, traversing a road that was under constant and heavy artillery and machine gun fire and succeeded in bringing aid and succor to his injured pals. The death of Sergeant Paradiso is regretted by everyone in Norwalk, but the city is proud and honored to have such a man among its residents. He made the Supreme Sacrificed and will never return home but his memory will always remain as will the stories of his heroism in action with the A.E.F.


Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the United States Army’s second highest award for extreme gallantry and risk of life in combat action.

CITATION

Private Tony Paradiso, Company D, 102nd Infantry, Army Serial Number, 64349, for extraordinary heroism in action at Epieds, France, July 23, 1918. Fighting with rare courage at Epieds, Private Paradiso bayonetted several Germans and then discovering two machine gunners in a tree, he crept through the wheat fields alone and killed them. Later he made several trips from Epieds to a dressing station in the woods, traversing a road under constant shell and machine gun fire.

NOTE: on the headstone picture below, you can see is carved “FR.C. DE G.” Presumably by where it’s placed on the stone, Sergeant Paradiso was the recipient of the French Croix de Guerre (translation: War Cross). The French Croix de Guerre was awarded to French and allied soldiers, including 11,589 Americans, for their service during World War I and was authorized by French legislation on April 2, 1915. The Croix de Guerre was a medal with ribbon that was awarded with degrees based on the actions of the soldier and his role. The lowest degree was signified by the bronze star, while the highest was a bronze palm. Soldiers could receive multiple stars and palms for multiple acts of wartime gallantry. In some instances, whole military units and even French villages were awarded Croix de Guerres. However, no reference to him receiving the honor can be found.

In an e-mail on February 24, 2020 from the Superintendent of the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, Bruce Malone, the story gained another layer:

“In response to your question about Sergeant Tony Paradiso and his French Croix de Guerre, I can offer that the French C. de. G. was issued to both individual American soldiers as well as American units. We do not have a record of Tony Paradiso’s awarding of the medal, but I may be able to offer a few insights. Sergeant Paradiso received the DSC, as you know, for actions in the Aisne-Marne Offensive in the summer of 1918. At the time, the Americans were under French command in the Fr 6th & 10th Armies. While he was recognized by the US Army with our 2nd highest award for valor, the French most likely felt that he deserved a French award for valor as well, since he was under their command. In the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (his date of death is Oct 25), the 26th Division was once again serving under French command in the Fr XVII Corps as part of the US First Army. Moreover, at the time of his death Sergeant Paradiso’s unit relieved a French unit in a location with very significant meaning for the French Army – the Bois des Caures. This is the area north of Verdun where the Germans first attacked in February 1916 at the start of the 10-month Battle of Verdun. To the French, these Americans were fighting for them on hallowed ground. Perhaps, it is one or a combination of both of these reasons for Paradiso receiving the award. I hope this helps explain why he received the C. de G. If you find any documentation on this, we would love to have it to share with visitors.”

Hoyt Street renamed Paradiso Street in 1921 in honor of him

For NARA burial file, click HERE.

Sergeant Paradiso is buried at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France; Plot F, Row 18, Grave 33.

Published by jeffd1121

USAF retiree. Veteran advocate. Committed to telling the stories of those who died while in the service of the country during wartime.

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