Mario Aiello grew up in Readville (part of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston) and was drafted into the Army in 1942. He became a Technician 5th Grade, and was part of the 5th Army’s 75th Field Artillery Battalion. Aiello saw action in North Africa and Italy, and would earn a Bronze Star.
This interview was conducted with Aiello’s son, Stephen Duggan, at the Bedford VA Medical Center.
Born and raised in South Africa, Cyril Woolf enlisted in the South African Air Force in 1940 at the age of 27. Because of his electrical background, he was assigned to be an aircraft electrician, working on British-and American-made air planes in Egypt, and across Africa to Tunis and into Italy, with the #2 Fighter Squadron. Living in tent cities, Woolf speaks about Cairo, the Pyramids, Tripoli and seeing President Roosevelt in a motorcade in Tunis. During his five years in the service, Woolf also worked with the squadron that flew British Mosquito planes and used American-made Fairchild cameras to photograph the oil fields in Romania. American servicewomen then made models of the terrain that were used in successful British bombing raids.
Paul Hasgill grew up in Natick and worked several part-time jobs before the war, including caddying at Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland. Drafted in late 1942, he trained to be a radio operator and was attached to the Signal Corps. Trained in Boston, he was stationed at Atlantic City and Newport News until he shipped out to North Africa and Italy. The closest he came to the enemy is when the Germans would jam the signals while he was transmitting and this resulted in permanent hearing loss. In 1945 he shipped out en route to the Pacific, but his transport was stopped at the Panama Canal when the war was over. Discharged in 1945 with the rank of corporal, he was anxious to return home, but considered it an honor to have helped end the war.
Having learned Morse Code and Semaphore in Boy Scout Camp, Larry Foster was a perfect match for Navy Signalmen during World War II. Entering the service right out of high school, his duties took him to France, North Africa, India, the Caribbean, Cuba and Aruba on cargo tanker convoys carrying everything from fuel to tanks and jeeps. He recalls one particularly harrowing experience when the tanker, SS Elizabeth Kellogg, was torpedoed and sunk by a German sub. Larry spent 36 hours at sea covered in oil awaiting rescue. Larry speaks with candor and thoughtfulness of the loss of life, his recovery, his Purple Heart and his time on the tankers and ocean-going tugs.