2011 Honored Veterans

Francis "Chet" Giorgetti

Chet, 95, was born in Northern Italy, grew up in Waterbury, served in the war and has made New Britain his home since 1952. Chet was a private and corporal in the U.S. Army’s 119th Infantry, spent his time overseas in Iceland, England, France and Germany, and was with the Ozark Division when they went to the front. He was scheduled to be sent to Malmedy, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge with the 30th Division, and was redirected – later the world learned of the Malmedy Massacre, where 84 GIs were gunned down in cold blood by the Nazis. Chet says, “I was lucky.” Chet and his wife Marjorie raised their family in New Britain, and Chet was a long-time circulation manager for The Hartford Courant. Thank you, Chet, for your service to our country.

Eugene "Gene" Leganza

Gene, 87, was born and raised in New Britain, attended public schools and entered the Navy in 1943, where he was a machinist mate 1st class on the USS Gregory, a destroyer that served in the South Pacific. As part of the Gregory crew, Gene took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima, where the Gregory was under fire for a month off the coast. At Okinawa in April 1945, the Gregory was attacked by kamikazes – one of which hit the Gregory midship. After the war, Gene returned to New Britain and he and his wife Florence raised a family there, while Gene built a 30-plus year career at Fafnir Bearing, first in a tool & die apprenticeship and later as a general foreman. Thank you, Gene, for your service to our country.

Leo Piccoli

Leo, 94, was born in Meriden and moved to New Britain with his family at age 6 in 1923. Leo attended public schools in the city, and joined the Army in 1943 where he was a Sargent and served stateside as a cook. Leo points out that he did not go overseas during the war – well, Leo, you were fortunate to escape combat, but that does not diminish your service and sacrifice. Leo’s brother, Vito, was wounded twice in the South Pacific – and we all know that could very well have been Leo. Leo and his wife Rose raised their family in New Britain, and Leo worked for nearly 40 years at Fafnir Bearing Company as a set-up man. Thank you, Leo, for your service to our country.

Andrew "Andy" Symecko

Andy, 90, was born and raised in New Britain and attended public schools, graduating from New Britain High and the state trade school. He entered the Navy in 1943 – much against the wishes of his then-employer, Pratt & Whitney. He served as a Motor Machinist Mate, 3rd Class, on the USS Cero Gato-class submarine, built by Electric Boat in Groton, and was aboard the Cero while it engaged in enemy attacks in the South Pacific as part of the American Wolfpack Patrol. Andy and his wife Dickie raised their family on Carroll Street in New Britain, while Andy worked for 30 years as a pump station operator for the city water department. Thank you, Andy, for your service to our country.

Alexander "Al" Wojtera

Al, 91,attended public schools in New Britain and also graduated from the state trade school. Al entered the Navy in 1943, and was a Seaman, 1st Class, aboard the YMS 383 minesweeper, which engaged in missions throughout the South Pacific. When people ask Al about his service, he likes to tell them that he served aboard a minesweeper – on which he operated the “big broom.” Al and his wife Doris raised their two children in New Britain, and Al worked for many years on the 5th floor at Fafnir Bearing, where he was a tool & die maker. Al is a longtime member of the Northwestern Vets, is the chaplain of the VFW Post 511, and is a past commander of the Catholic War Veterans. Thank you, Al, for your service to our country.