Italian-Born Brothers Serve in U.S. Military

As children, three Italian-born brothers (Walter, Renzo, and Angelino Caimi) emigrated to the United States. The Caimi brothers grew up American and were very proud of their adopted country, so it was natural that these patriotic young men would choose to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

In the 1930s, the eldest son, Walter, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for several years. In 1936, Walter was assigned to the naval operations base in South Charleston, West Virginia. While in Charleston, he met and fell in love with a lovely strawberry-blond who cooked sumptuous Italian food. They married within months of meeting. Together, they had three sons of their own; one was my husband’s father. Just prior to World War II, Walter received an honorable discharge from the Marines.

In December 1939, his brother, Renzo, also enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. After basic training, Renzo was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was still stationed at Pearl Harbor the day the Japanese bombed the port—7 December 1941. After the attack, Renzo sat on the grass, put his rifle down, removed his helmet, and started brushing the debris from his hair. He then heard someone yell, “Hey Marine!” and turned in time to see a photographer snap this picture:

At family gatherings, Renzo often recounted the sights and sounds of that day. Even though decades had passed since the attack, he described the day with such clarity, one would have thought he had just experienced the tragedy.

Renzo also spoke of fighting at Guadalcanal and other battles. Three times during the war, he came very close to dying. When he was stationed in Okinawa, Renzo wrote home to his parents to let them know he was safe.

After receiving Renzo’s letter, his mother wrote to her youngest son, Angelino, who, at the onset of war, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces and was also serving in the Pacific Campaign. It just so happened that Angelino was stationed at Okinawa (along with thousands of other troops), the same time as his brother.

Upon learning that Renzo was somewhere nearby, Angelino went in search of his brother (even though he did not have the faintest idea where his sibling might be.) Renzo, by mere coincidence, was on the main road about the same time that Angelino was driving by. Renzo was flabbergasted to see Angelino, as he was unaware that his youngest brother also was stationed at Okinawa. The two brothers then had a chance to catch up after several years apart.

#ancestry     #pearlharbor     #ww2

Categories: Caimi-Culatina Line, Famous Faces and Places, Immigrant Ancestors | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Italian-Born Brothers Serve in U.S. Military

  1. Pingback: Conflict in Our Family Trees | Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers

  2. Pingback: *Press This* Italian-Born Brothers Serve in U.S. Military #215 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

  3. You’re blessed to have heard first-hand experiences from your family. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Once again, I’m interested in the first-hand accounts here and the way the brothers found each other after being separated for two years!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Climbing My Family Tree

    A first-hand account of Pearl Harbor–priceless family history. So glad this has been preserved as one of the stories told in your family tree!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Linda Stufflebean

    Those who served in WWII truly are the Greatest Generation. Fun story about Renzo and Angelino meeting up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, how poignant.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s incredible that you have Renzo’s personal accounts. My great-grandfather (the boxer!) didn’t share his more harrowing experiences, to say the least, with the family–but I have a number of stories about his time at Pearl Harbor working as a carpenter’s mate or hanging out with friends or learning how to box. Renzo’s stories are a gift, and I’m glad there’s a family historian to record them!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Military Service – Tales of a Family

  10. Pingback: In Service to Our Country – Tales of a Family

  11. Good question about the surname… maybe someday, we will figure out when and why it mutated!

    I am so glad you enjoyed this story about your Caimi kin, Trish. For more on the Caimi-Culatina line, check out

    Or, if you want to read about your other half, go to There are quite a few stories about the Spangler-Kenney family.

    Love ya, cuz!


  12. Trisha C

    Tell us how our name changed! Wonderful writing and a wonderful story about my grandfather!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. On Monday, February 1, 2016, my husband’s aunt sent this message to me after reading this post:

    Just read your blog. TY for this. You are an awesome writer.

    You are most welcome, Aunt Linda. I am so happy that you enjoyed it!


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