The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

June 6, 2014

DiFazio and the 4th landed on Utah

MAHONING TWP. — Seventy years ago today, the largest seaborne invasion in history was launched.

The Allied forces invaded Normandy in France during World War II on what was known as D-Day. Sam DiFazio, of Mahoning Township, was part of the invasion, aboard a ship landing on Utah Beach at Normandy.

DiFazio, who is 98, served with the Fourth Infantry of the Army.

He was shell-shocked and taken to a hospital in England.

The World War II veteran still has his hat and dress uniform jacket showing ribbons and medals he received, including the Bronze Star.

DiFazio has worn them in Danville’s annual Memorial Day Parade the past eight years, including this year’s event, May 26.

After recovering in the hospital, he was transferred to the military police.

He recalled directing traffic in England in freezing temperatures, putting up a sign and going to a shelter. His chalk message guided drivers to see him for directions.

He also served with the military police when supplies were disappearing and an investigation was conducted. He said the military personnel suspects were caught and charged.

A Brooklyn native, DiFazio joined the Army in 1943 and served three-and-a-half years.

Years later, while working in the General Post Office in Brooklyn, he met a man who told him he was listed as being killed in World War II because others in his unit had died.

DiFazio was married while serving in the Army. He and his late wife, Eleanor, wrote letters to each other daily.  His daughter, Ellen Matragrano, of the Danville area, said her dad signed the letters Butch, which is what his buddies called him.

DiFazio’s niece, Elaine Hogan, of Queens, also wrote to him. “Some of her letters are so adorable. She would draw pictures of cats,” Matragrano said.

After the war ended, DiFazio was allowed to travel where he wanted to for a week. He picked Switzerland and still has the black and white pictures from his visit. He also has the railways pass he used.

After being discharged from the Army on March 31, 1946, he took a test, scored high and was hired by the postal system in Brooklyn. He retired from there in 1977. He and his wife of 54 years moved to the Danville area to be closer to Matragrano and her family.

DiFazio attends St. Joseph Church in Danville.

A member of the Knights of Columbus, he became an honorary member of Danville American Legion Post 40 last year.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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