Years in the Army - Casper spent about five years in the United States Army. He had a good service record and left us plenty of stories about his years in the army. Some good and some not so good. I'll list some of the good stories here. He won a number of medals and honors for bravery and for being wounded. He also was promoted to a Staff Seargent for braving life on an iceberg for over a month. That's how he was promoted. To prepare for the invasion of Europe, the Army trained soldiers in a number of environments. My dad was one of those that was trained for a cold weather invasion. What they did was to send a group of soldiers to live on an iceberg in Iceland for about a month. It was a completely volunteer operation and if a soldier thought they couldn't take it any more, they were allowed to leave.

The Bronze Star Medal

My dad was one of those that made it for the full 30 days and he was promoted upon returning. He told us plenty of stories about how they lived on that glacier. He also won a number of medals and awards for service campaigns, a purple heart for being injured in battle, and a bronze medal for bravery. At his funeral, they gave him full military honors, 60 years after the war. It says a lot about our military.

The way he told us one story, a radio operator who was calling in coordinates for a hill they were to take had been shot from the tree he was working in. The radio was still there so my dad climbed that tree and after studying the maps for a bit, called in the proper coordinates so the hill could be taken. I guess one of his superiors saw this and they gave him a Bronze Star.

He always told us stories about his time in the Army. He was part of the D-day +6 invasion, meaning he came to Normandy 6 days after D-day. The beach was already taken, but there was definite battle going on and it was a dangerous place to be. He talked about his friends and always wondered what happened to many of those guys. I scanned in a bunch of his badges which you can see by clicking here.

After the war, he came home and started our family. My mom and him got married kind of late. They were both in their thirties and I don't think they began having kids until they were close to forty years old. I know they loved each other, but I keep thinking that their marriage was arranged by my Uncle Casper and his good friend (my grandfather) Anthony. Uncle Casper was married to my mom's oldest sister Susanna and my mom had just immigrated from Sicily and was living with them. Anyway, here is their wedding picture. They were married on July 28th, 1946. I guess they didn't wait that long as it was right after the war. They had their first son on October 28th, 1953 so there was plenty of time for them to get to know each other. I think they lived with my Auntie Susie and Uncle Casper for a while, then I think they also shared an apartment with Auntie Dee and Uncle Jim Sokolowski too until they bought their first home on 38th Street in Chicago.

After The War - As they got older, our family stayed very close. This is a good picture of all seven Alagnas posing with their dad and step-mom Frances. Auntie Eva lived in California so we didn't get too many pictures with them all together like this. They had a lot of fun together. As kids, I can remember them playing poker and getting together for any excuse possible. It was a great family to be part of and to grow up in. We ate and partied all the time. And New Years was a very special party. We fought every year

not to go as kids, but then when we went, we never regretted it. It would usually be held at Uncle Jim and Auntie Anne's house. A few times, I can remember having it at Uncle Joe and Angie's house up in Milwaukee. But it was always fun. My cousin Cindy Alagna has all the old movie videos and it would have to be a blast to just see those some time.

I guess my dad still like to dance after he was married. I think my mom liked it too but wasn't quite as agile as my dad. This picture is part of my mom and dad dancing but mom's part was all stained out so I didn't include her in this one. I just like how dad was dressed here with his bow tie. As I was growing up, I don't remember my dad dressing up too much. He worked in the newspaper business for many years and that didn't require dressing up.

I know that he was very agile as he used to teach us kids tricks that would require us to do all kinds of twists and turns. He was a lot of fun that way and I can remember many days where we were thrown all over the place as kids and we loved every second of it. Fortunately, none of us got hurt. It was just all good fun. He used to try to teach us to dance too but none of us ever really picked up much on it.


Next (Later Years)