October 28, 1916 (Norwalk, CT) – June 18, 2006 (Leominster, MA); 89 years old
Married to Margaret A. Nash (1924-2002).
One daughter, Deborah (1950-).
One son, David M. (1949-).
Local address: 22 Davis Street, Norwalk, Connecticut.
Entered the Army on June 30, 1940
Retired on November 1, 1960, after over 20 years of service.
Serial number: 6150723
MOS: 1189, Forward Observer – Artillery; was also a Field Artillery Crewman and Field Artillery Chief.
Born to Giovanni “John” P. (1879-1955) and Devota Dal Colla Peretti (1885-1939). Four brothers, John A. (1908-1985), Joseph P. (1919-1960), Edward (1922-), and Albert (1925-2010). Four sisters, Jennie Peretti Cocco (1911-1990), Rose Peretti Lavoie Makovy (1915-1975), Mildred Peretti Costabile (1919-1977), Josephine C. Peretti Carboni (1923-1994), and Anna Peretti Pecunia (1928-2019).
Graduated from Norwalk High School in 1934.
Portrait contributed by daughter Deb Peretti. The photo was taken in 1954 when he was 38 years old.
Served in World War II and the Korean War.
Recipient of the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal, American Defense Ribbon, European – African, Middle Eastern Theatre Ribbon with 8 campaign stars.
From The Norwalk Hour October 6, 1943
NORWALKER GETS THE SILVER STAR
Staff Sgt Bernaldo Peretti Cited For Gallantry In Action In Africa
Another hero has been added to Norwalk’s honor roll. He is Staff Sergeant Bernaldo M. Peretti, son of John Peretti of 22 Davis Street who has been cited for gallantry in action and awarded the Silver Star. The Citation follows:
For gallantry in action in the vicinity of El Guettar, Tunisia, on March 23, 1943. When communication lines were severed by enemy fire, Sergeant Peretti voluntarily crossed terrain constantly exposed to heavy enemy artillery and machine gun fire, and repaired those lines, thus enabling his battery to complete its mission successfully.
Sgt Peretti who entered the Army in June 1940, received his training at Fort Devens, Fort Ethan Allen, Fort Bragg, and Camp Blanding, Florida. He went overseas in July 1942, has been in England, Scotland, and Africa, and is now in Sicily. He was formerly employed at the Meyers Manufacturing Company. Mr. Peretti has two other sons in the service, Edward of the U.S. Navy, received his training at Newport, Rhode Island, and was formerly employed by Magraw and Company in New London, and Albert, who entered the Merchant Marine service in June, and who was formerly employed by the Manhattan Shirt Company. He received his training at Sheepshead Bay, and is on sea duty at the present time.
From the Sentinel & Enterprise, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, June 7, 1994
He’d volunteer all over again
Leominster Man’s unit took heavy losses in fighting in Normandy
By George W. Barnes II
Leominster News Director
LEOMINSTER — If World War II came again, Bernaldo “Bernie” Peretti of 23 Hale Street would volunteer.
“I know they wouldn’t take me, but I would go for a desk job or something,” he said.
Some would say he’s done enough. During World War II, he saw 4,325 of his comrades in the 1st Infantry Division, known by its nickname “The Big Red One,” die in battle. He was wounded and returned home covered in medals. Later, he went to Korea and caught the tail end of the Korean War.
But he would volunteer to go again because he believes it is the right thing to do.
By the time Peretti climbed aboard a landing craft that would take him to the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, he was already a decorated veteran.
The Leominster resident, who was originally from Norwalk, Connecticut, knew what he was facing and what to do to stay alive when the shooting started.
Many of the soldiers with him in the 1st DIvision’s 18th Regimental combat team were not as sure of themselves.
Listening to the sounds of fighting already under way on Omaha Beach filled them with fear.
“I was in charge of a group on the (landing craft). The kids, they couldn’t see too much over the bow of the boat, but they sensed what was happening,” he said. “You could feel it. They were scared.”
Some of the men crawled under trucks to hide. “You had to kick them in the rump to get them out,” he said. His unit’s landing was easier than some because the fire was more heavily directed at units that had landed ahead of them.
It was still brutal fighting with many units losing 70 or 80 percent of their men.
“I don’t remember much, but it was hell to pay,” he said. “It took us three days just to go in three miles.”
The memories come hard for Peretti who saw many friends and comrades die in battles in Africa and Europe.
The recent focus on the 50th anniversary of D-Day has helped bring back those memories, many of them painful.
In Africa, Peretti fought in two of the most difficult battles against German General Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps.
He first faced the Germans at Kasserine Pass and later El Guettar, both in Tunisia.
It was at El Guettar that he won a Silver Star for bravery. In the middle of the battle, his unit was surrounded and cut off from headquarters.
Without being asked, Peretti left his unit in the middle of the night and followed a damaged communication line through enemy-held territory back to headquarters,.
He was able to re-establish communications, which prevented his unit from being overrun.
Peretti later won the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart during the Normandy campaigns, as well as 11 other medals, including the French Croix de Guerre.
Despite his war record, which also included a battlefield commission to Second Lieutenant two days before the start of the Battle of the Bulge, he said he doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I’m one of many and actually, the heroes are still there,” he said.
At El Guettar, Lieutenant General George Patton, commander of the Third Army Corps, drove through the 32nd Field Artillery Battalion’s position with flags flying. The Germans, seeing the vehicle, shelled and bombed Peretti’s unit, knocking out two of their four artillery pieces and killing several men.
Amon those killed, Peretti said, was a man from Worcester, Sergeant Wadislaw Wesgan.
Just prior to D-Day, another incident occurred, on Peretti said he’s just as soon forget.
To prepare for the invasion, troops were loaded on landing craft and were supposed to practice landings. Instead, they were attacked by a German submarine and several boats went down with men onboard.
“After that, they put us in a holding pen until it was time to head to Normandy,” he said.
After Normandy, Peretti fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where his unit held its ground against the German’s last best effort to turn the tide of the war back in their favor.
The unit fought its way across France and into Germany across a bridge at Remagen, the only bridge over the Rhine River the Germans left standing. He ended the war west of Berlin.
Buried in Evergreen Cemetery, 257 Main Street, Leominster, Massachusetts; Section 21, Lot 577. Photos from findagrave.com.