'He was a true hero.' Tarrytown family takes Memorial Day to recount heroism of relative who fought in WWII
A Tarrytown family is taking the time this Memorial Day weekend to remember the heroism and bravery of one of their own.
Susan Paolantonio looks over the legacy in pictures, of her uncle Anthony Paolantonio, who was shot down over Belgium by enemy forces as he flew combat missions during World War II.
But his military journey did not end there.
"He was listed missing in action, then killed in action, then six months later, he sent my grandparents a telegram that said, 'Mom and pop, it's Tony. I'm alive. I'm coming home,'" Susan Paolantonio says.
Paolantonio and her aunt Phyllis are taking this Memorial Day to remember Anthony Paolantonio's determination to make it back home, after a Belgium family who hid him from the Nazis nursed him back to health.
The series of events occurred after church in his hometown of Tarrytown held a funeral service for him.
"I think about my grandmother having five sons in the military waiting for them all to come back. She had to be very strong," Susan Paolantonio says.
Anthony Paolantonio, who joined the military right after high school, would ultimately live to the age of 82.
The one-time staff sergeant was an active member of the Tarrytown community, a married father of two, and a proud veteran.
Although she never met him, the priceless photos keep his memory alive in her heart, where he and his bravery will live forever.
"He survived being shot down, missing in action... I'm sorry for being emotional... and he was a true hero. He was a hero," Susan Paolantonio says.