Sergeant William “Emo” Peretti (1924 – 2019)
US Army, WWII
Remembering – Sergeant William Peretti by son Tom Peretti
William “Emo” Peretti was born February 20, 1924, in Weedville to Attilio Peretti and Margaret Louise Bonafini- both immigrants from San Zeno di Montagna, Italy. Emo went to Weedville Elementary and graduated from Weedville High School in 1942.
Right after graduating, Emo enlisted in the US Army and obtained the rank of sergeant serving in the American Military Government Unit from 1943 to 1947 in Europe. His brother Joseph “Bep” also served during WW2. His sisters included Ann, Tillie, Tootie, and Mary. After arriving in Manchester, England in 1944 , he immediately transferred to Normandy, France (Utah Beach) after the D-Day invasion where his unit was responsible for providing backup support and transportation. After serving in Holland, Belgium, Italy, and Troyes France, his last assignment was in Germany for approximately two years. His duties supported bringing back the country to a peaceful nature. He supervised German POW’s as they rotated to different locations throughout Germany repairing land combat and transportation vehicles being used by military forces. He was honorably discharged in 1947, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He has fond memories of his duty while in Europe- visiting Italy and England, hunting for wild boar in the German forests, and experiencing life outside of Weedville. He was in Manchester, England, when the Hiroshima bomb went off. He was childhood friends with other WW2 local heroes including Carmen Parziale (Purple Heart MIA/KIA), Joseph Rebo (Air Medal), John Silinsky (Purple Heart), and Christopher “Bud” Dill (Purple Heart / Silver Star).
Emo returned to Weedville, and then shortly after, enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh on the GI bill. He married and had two children- Tom and Chris. He graduated Pitt in 1953 with a BA degree in Business Administration. After graduation, he began a career with GTE Sylvania in Chicago and retired 36 years later. He still resides in Lombard, Illinois, and is contently enjoying his life.
A recent highlight for Emo was being selected as a special WW2 veteran to participate the veterans’ Honor Flight Chicago program. The newspaper story follows:
“World War II veteran’s dreams now a reality” by By Eleni Demertzis, Lombard Spectator; April 2010
Lombard, IL — For some World War II veterans, the dream of seeing the war memorials in Washington, D.C., seems impossible, because of health reasons or financial issues. Yet through one unique organization, World War II veterans now can have their dreams come true. “I’ll never forget this,” 86-year-old Lombard resident Bill Peretti said the day after returning from his first Honor Flight. Peretti served overseas in World War II between 1943 and 1947. Since his return, he never had the chance to visit the capital and see the memorials. “It was one of those things you just keep putting off,” Peretti said. On his flight were approximately 80 other veterans, all of whom waited about a year and a half to two years to take this trip. Peretti said some of the veterans were in poor health. On Wednesday morning, the veterans met at Midway Airport, where they boarded the Honor Flight. “Everybody was so excited to see all the new things,” Peretti said. “It was really something to see, something very special.” The flight returned to Midway late Wednesday evening, where a large reception gathered to welcome the veterans back home. “When we arrived at the airfield, there were firemen, policemen, and so many people all cheering for us,” Peretti said. “It was very worthwhile.” Honor Flight Chicago was founded in February 2008 with the goal of taking these veterans to see the Washington, D.C., memorial in their honor. “A lot of these guys have this goal of seeing their memorial before they pass,” said Mary Pettinato, co-founder and president of Honor Flight Chicago.“You would think it’d be a very somber moment, but instead, the guys are there, laughing and joking, and just having the best time. They have this camaraderie that is second to none.” Pettinato said the most moving part of the daylong event is the welcoming reception when they return to the airport. “Thousands of people come to welcome them home,” Pettinato said. “It is the most moving experience.” Pettinato said there are 1,379 World War II veterans now on the Honor Flight waiting list. “All the new people I met was just an extra treat for the event,” said Peretti. “We all had a good time.”
Emo, we at the Mt Zion Historical Society salute you for your service and representing the Valley in such a positive way.
Sergeant William “Emo” Peretti died on December 23, 2019 at the age of 95 at the Good Samaritan Hospital of Downers Grove, IL.
Lest We Forget…