His brother may be buried thousands of miles away, but it hasn’t kept Revere’s Frank Famiglietti from making the journey to Italy to visit his brother’s grave on Memorial Day.
“I’m 82 years old now and I still think of my older brother all the time,” said Famiglietti, of Essex Street. “He was a great brother. He would take me fishing and when they had a basketball game, he would take me along.”
John Famiglietti was one of four brothers from the Famiglietti family that were called to duty during World War II.
Marshall served on the battleship ‘California’; Rocky was in the Pacific theatre; Joe served with the famous Japanese American unit whose motto was ‘Go For Broke; and John was on duty with several other Revere young men in Sicily.
Out of the four of them, only John – a 1942 graduate of Revere High School – did not return home.
“They were unloading gasoline in the Port of Gela in Sicily when the Germans got a hit directly on their tanker and my brother got burnt to death in the fire,” said Frank. “Another Revere guy lost an eye in the fire and a third was injured too.”
In those days, the military didn’t fly dead bodies home. Rather, they left it up to the family, and Frank said his family decided to let John rest in peace in Italy. Therefore, he was buried in the beautiful Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial, located about 38 miles south of Rome.
Some 7,700 American soldiers are entombed at the cemetery, with 3,300 of them listed as unknowns.
“The reason we never took him home was my parents decision,” said Frank. “It wasn’t like now where they fly the body back home for the family. After we heard, we could have taken his body home, but my mother and father decided to let him stay with his comrades he went down with in the attack. He would have been at Holy Cross here and the one in Italy is kept up so nicely.”
John’s death was something the family took very hard – which led Frank to never forget his brother and to pledge to visit him frequently even considering the distance.
Himself a veteran of Korea, he took his most recent visit last Memorial Day to the monument in Italy.
“I visit every so many years,” he said. “I’ve been there six times. I go back to leave flowers and visit the grave. If I don’t go, I have them put flowers there…I took my daughter and son-in-law there last year and it brought tears to their eyes immediately. What did it were all the graves there.”
John Famiglietti would have been 86 this year.
He died at the young age of 19.