Ray Coniglio ~ Page 2

     Ray's Naval Militia card.  His middle name was mis-spelled, it's Angelo, not Angello.


          Raymond remembers that he and Guy were on four cruises together in the US Naval Reserve before WWII.  The training cruises listed on Ray's USNR discharge papers are: battleship USS Wyoming (BB - 32), 12 September - 25 September 1936; destroyer USS Dickerson (DD - 157), 24 July - 6 August 1937; battleship USS Arkansas (BB - 33), 10 September - 23 September 1938; and heavy cruiser USS Vincennes (CA - 44), 19 August - 1 September 1939.  It's uncertain whether Guy was on the 1937 and 1938 cruises, as his 19 August 1939 Vincennes muster gives his enlistment date as 27 October 1938, after the date of the 1938 training cruise.  Musters for the 1936, 1937 and 1938 cruises are not available.  On the Vincennes, Guy was a Seaman First Class (S1c) and Ray was a Fireman Second Class (F2c).

USS Wyoming (BB - 32)

USS Dickerson (DD - 157)

USS Arkansas (BB - 33)


Ray ~ 1937

19 August 1939 Muster

USS Vincennes (CA - 44)

1 September 1939 Muster


       Ray's discharge from the Naval Reserve (officially known as the 'New York Naval Militia').  Note that his middle name, Angelo, is misspelled.


February 14, 1941


? Andy


Ray enlisted in the US Army on 26 May 1942.  He trained for the infantry at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, then shipped to England from Fort Dix, New Jersey.


1942 ~ on leave before shipping overseas



The War Years

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Campaign RiBbon
Algeria-French Morocco
Tunisia * Sicily * Normandy
Northern France
Rhineland * Central Europe 

47th Infantry

9th Infantry


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Fort Bragg, NC

Fayetteville, NC
Fort Niagara, NY

        Sicily? 1944?

Ray in Safi, Morocco ~ 1942

Click on a photo to enlarge it.

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       Ray's unit went to Africa where it helped to fashion the "new mode of warfare" that was to be used by the Allies in World War II.  One of his experiences was to have his unit, after it had captured the town of Bizerte, be ordered to move back from the town, and allow French troops to march in and claim credit for taking the town, one of those bizarre political and "diplomatic" decisions common to war.

      In 1943, after the African campaign,  the unit attacked the beaches of Sicily, a fore-runner of the beach invasions of the German mainland that were to be the beginning of the and for Hitler.  Ray's unit landed near Cefalú, on the North Coast.  Most of the campaign in Sicily was fought on the beaches around the island against Italian units from mainland Italy and German forces.  The Axis did not arm nor try to conscript local Sicilians who were rebellious, often anti-Mussolini, and hated the Germans.  Sicilians were in large part uninvolved observers in the war, but did suffer much destruction and significant civilian casualties in the Allied bombardment of the larger cities like Palermo and Messina. 

      The common American perception, because the Sicilians were either non-combatants or openly friendly, was that interior towns like Serradifalco probably had seen little of the war. When Ray's unit was about fifty miles away from our parents' home town, he asked whether he could borrow a jeep and try to find any relatives there.  The V-mail letter below was written to Ray by our sister Millie, for our mother and father.  From the V-mail, we see that in we see that in the spring of 1943 Phil was home on leave from the Navy, and Leonard, also in the Navy, was waiting for a letter from Ray.  The letter gave the addresses of our uncle Giuseppe Coniglio and aunt Concetta Alessi Fazio in Serradifalco.

          Ray's commander okayed the idea, and the jeep was all set to go, with gifts for the relatives, when the war took control of destiny: Ray's unit had to move on, and he had to scrub the trip to Serradifalco.

         I recently learned from an acquaintance who was four years old in 1943, that the war, indeed, did touch Serradifalco.  There was a German machine-gun emplacement there, on Via Calvario, the highest road in the town, from which the Germans could cover approaching roads.  One day, villagers saw an American jeep approaching the town, and a Sicilian collaborator warned the German soldiers.  They opened fire on the jeep, killing one American, and then abandoned their post and retreated with the defeated German army.  When the townspeople tried to help the dead American, they learned from his G.I. companions that he had been the son of Sicilians.  The story goes that when the war was over the dead soldier's mother went to Serradifalco to place a wreath in honor of her son.
          When I told my brother Ray that there was a higher reason why he never made it to Serradifalco, he pondered: "You're right, that could have been me!"


           After Sicily, Ray's unit was sent to England for some 'Rest and Recuperation', and to prepare them for the daunting battles they would fight in Normandy, where Ray's unit was in the second wave of the D-Day invasion that began on 6 June 1944.  They went on to combat in France, Belgium and Central Europe.


            During World War II, 'V-mail', short for 'Victory Mail', was a hybrid mail process used during by American armed forces as the primary and secure mail method for soldiers stationed abroad. To reduce the logistics of transferring an original letter via the military postal system, after being written, a V-mail letter would be censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper upon arrival at its destination. 
ensured that thousands of tons of shipping space could be reserved for war materials. The 37 mail sacks needed to carry 150,000 one-page letters could be replaced by a single sack. The weight of that same amount of mail was reduced from 2,575 pounds to only 45 pounds. This saved considerable weight and bulk in a time when both were hard to manage in combat zones.  In addition to censorship, V-mail also deterred espionage communications by foiling the use of invisible ink, microdots, and microprinting, none of which would be reproduced in a photocopy. 
was written or typed on small sheets, 7" by 9 1/8" that would go through military censors before being photographed and transported as thumbnail-sized negative images on microfilm. On arrival at their destination, the negatives would be blown up to 60% of their original size, to 4 ¼" by 5 3/16" re-printed and delivered to its addressee.
          Below is a letter Ray sent to Marion by V-mail.  The size below is approximately as it would have appeared to her.  Note that he says virtually nothing about his circumstances.  If he had, it would have been censored.  The censor's stamp appears at the upper left.  He did give the place, however, 'England', and the date, 'June 5, 1944'.  So the V-mail was written the day before D-Day, no doubt just before Ray boarded a ship to take him to the shores of Normandy.

                                                                    June 5, 1944
My Darling Marian                                                     England

                                     Today I received your letter of May 31st.This is the
quickest I have received a letter fom home its only 5 days old -
receiving mail this quick lessens my worries of my love ones back
home. I wish that all of my letters could get to you that soon if they did I know you would be less worried about me.
                                      I was happy to hear that every one at home is well
I'm hoping that this letter still finds every one still the same. As for me
I'm in the best of health and every thing else is going along fine
except that I miss you so darn much Marian it seems like ages since I last seen you, I'm hoping that I can be with you again real soon.
                                         I was sorry to hear that the plant that you work at had
to work on Decoration Day, I guess the people in the states don't mind working on holidays when they know that every little bit they do will help to end this war sooner.
                                      I was glad to hear that your having beautiful weath-
er in Buffalo now. You and Ray should try to spend alot of time out
doors now. Take him out as often as possible Marian it will do you
both alot of good.
                                      Honey it's been some time since I last heard from
Phil, when you write to him ask him if he's receiving my letters the
last one I wrote to him was on May 25. Let me know if hes been writing lately. I hope things are fine with him.
                                     Well Honey it's time to close now, so I'll say Good
Night My Love, God Bless My Little Family.
                                                                                                        Love & Kisses
P.S. Give my best regards to
          Ma, Pa and Family.                                            Always Your Love
        I LOVE YOU                                                                I MISS YOU

The burial place in the letter is in error, it should have read Mount Calvary Cemetery.



Click on the citations below to read details.

June 21 - 26, 1944
Battle of Cherbourg, France

November 25, 1944
Battle of Wilhelmshohe, Germany

April 2 - 5, 1945
Battle of Oberkirchen, Germany

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       On March 7, 1945, the US 9th Armored Division captured the strategic Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, Germany, over the River Rhine.  Shortly afterward, Ray's unit, the 9th Infantry Division, crossed over, and Ray saw some American tanks going by, towards the battlefront.  Army vehicles each carry a stencil of the unit's identification number, which is also the "APO" (Army Post Office) number, or mailing address, for anyone in the unit.  Marty Pepe, a friend of Ray's had lived around the corner from Ray in Buffalo. 

        The Coniglios lived at 309 Myrtle Avenue, and the Pepes lived at 18 Spring Street.  Ray and Marty had corresponded with each other while they were both serving in the Army, and Ray recognized the number on one of the American tanks as Marty's APO number!   Later that day, Ray told his Sergeant that he thought he knew someone in the tank unit up ahead, and asked if he could try to find his friend.  The sergeant said "OK, they're ahead of us and that's where we're goin', so you can meet up with us later."
Tanks move a little more quickly than footsoldiers, so night fell, and Ray still hadn't caught up.  He made a bed of pine needles in a grove, and slept there.  The next morning he walked on, and nearing the front, he heard gunfire and battle activity. 
         As he was walking along the road, he heard a tank behind him, and when he turned to look, he realized that it was a German tank!  He rolled into the ditch and tried to cover up, but the tank ominously stopped when it got even with him.  Then he heard a voice: "Don't worry, we're American, we captured a German tank!"  Ray looked up and asked where the American tanks were, and was told that they were just ahead.  He walked on, saw several of our tanks, and stopped at the first one.  The Tank Commander was sitting in the turret opening, and Ray shouted up "I'm looking for my friend Marty Pepe from Buffalo."
          The TC peered down into the turret of his tank and yelled "Hey Marty, some G.I. out here is looking for you!"  It was Marty's tank!  Two boys from Buffalo had a brief but happy reunion on the rear deck of the tank, and a buddy of Marty's took the photo shown below. 
           Ray kept that photo in his wallet for the rest of his life, and showed it to me when I visited him in Florida shortly before he passed away in 2011.
            If you look at the route taken by the 9th Infantry Division in WW II, you'll see that it goes right by Geissen, on the road to the little town of Kirch-Goens, where I served in a tank battalion, ten years later, in 1955.

 The 9th Infantry's route

          Below is a photo of some of Ray's WWII citations, awards and decorations, followed by details about the medals and ribbons.


Click on the name of the medal for a more detailed description.

Purple Heart

Bronze Star

World War II Victory

Good Conduct

Middle Eastern

Army of Occupation

Silver Star

       Awarded in the name of the President to  those who have been wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. Armed Services.
       Awarded for bravery or acts of merit.  Fourth-highest U.S. combat award.
       A campaign medal created by act of Congress in 1945, it commemorates military service during World War II.
        For 3 consecutive years of "honorable and faithful service".
       For military duty in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in World War II.
With six bronze service stars.
       To recognize those who had performed occupation service in Germany or Japan.
      Third-highest military decoration for valor in combat.
Awarded for gallantry in action.

French Fourragère

Combat Infantryman

Presidential Unit Citation


Belgian Fourragère

        Awarded to soldiers—enlisted men and officers (commissioned and warrant), colonels and below, who personally fought in active ground combat while assigned to either an infantry or a Special Forces unit
after 6 December 1941.
Even high-ranking officers often value their Combat Infantryman's Badge above all other decorations.


      Awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the U.S. and allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941.   
With 3 bronze Oak Leaf Clusters and an Arrowhead,
which signifies participation in invasion forces.

      Presented to service members on completion of a rifle qualification course.
         Awarded by France to all members of military units which have been mentioned in military despatches during action in France in World War II.
          Awarded by Belgium to units in military formations (amphibious landings) that distinguished themselves during World War II.

French D-Day Commemoration Medal
"Libertè Normandie"
Given to all veterans of French Liberation
on the 60th Anniversary of D-Day ~ 6 June 2004


. . . and in Peacetime . . .





One day Marion was baking a pie in the oven, and cooking spaghetti sauce on the stovetop.  She had to go shopping, so she asked Ray to occasionally check the pie and stir the sauce.

Ray was relaxing, watching TV, and she wasn't sure he had heard her, so she repeated "Raymond, I'm going out, please check the pie and stir the sauce while I'm gone."

The way Ray would pronounce "stir" was "steer".  He answered "OK, honey, I'll check the pie and steer the sauce."

Every few minutes, he'd go to the stove, "steer" the sauce, and look at the pie through the oven window.  Eventually, after a few times, he thought the pie was done, and using potholders, began to pull the oven rack out.  As he got a better look at the pie, he thought it should stay in a little longer, and began to push the rack back in.

But momentum is a tricky thing, and as the rack went in, the pie kept coming out!  It slid off the rack, did a complete 360
° in the air, and landed right side up on the kitchen floor.  Not a speck of the filling splashed out, but the filling and crust were all scrambled in the pie tin.

Ray, always calm, carefully lifted the pie, put it on a cooling rack on the kitchen counter, turned the oven and the stovetop burner off, and went back to watching TV.

Shortly, Marion came home.  Ray coolly said "Hi, hon" as she entered the kitchen.  She walked over to the counter, and saw a crumbled mess in the pie tin!  "Raymond!" she cried, "What in the world happened?"

Ray coolly looked up and said "MariANN, you TOLD me to steer the pie!"

Marion and Phil

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Ray Guy Jr. and Bobby

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Kelly and Ray Guy Jr.

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Bobby, Ray Guy Jr., Angela
and Becky ~ 1974

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Becky at Cape Cod ~ 1976


Ray and Guy ~ 1977




Marc, Becky
and Catherine

Catherine and Haley

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Ray Guy ~ 1943
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Ray Guy ~ 1944

Debbi & Ron ~ 2003

Zach & Debbi ~ 2011



Golf Outings

Ron, Ray Sr., Bob, and Ray Jr.
~ about 1988 ~

Ray Sr., Ray Jr., Ron, and Bob.
~ 2005 ~

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Marion, Ray, Ray Guy
and Ray Guy Jr.

Kelly, Ray Guy Jr. & Donna Brachman
~ 2003 ~


Ryan James and Haley Jee Coniglio ~ 2005

Haley  ~ 2011

Ryan & Haley ~ 2011

Ryan James ~ 1/1/2006
(Place cursor below to play.)


Sarah Jane Coniglio  
May 2007 ~ two months old



The Buffalo News                        Sunday, June 14, 2009                                   Page 1

Amanda Skinner



at Ray's house, February 2010
Mary and Tommy Mary and Ray



about 2010
Andrew and Sarah Jane Coniglio Haley and Mindy Coniglio Margaret, Becky, Catherine and Marc Scherrer



at Ray's house, March 2011
Ray, Ray Jr. and Ange
Margaret and Catherine at Crystal Beach ~ July 31, 2011


23 May 1918 ~ 9 November 2011

Raymond A. Coniglio, a decorated combat veteran of World War II and a long-time Buffalo Sewer Authority employee, died Wednesday, November 9, at age 93 in Florida.  He had been a Florida resident for over thirty years.

He was the third of nine children, six boys and three girls, and was born in
1918 in Roberstdale, PA to Sicilian immigrants Gaetano and Rosa Alessi Coniglio.  As a child, he moved with his family to Peacock Street in Buffalo’s old Canal District.  Before World War II, he and his older brother Gaetano served in the Naval Reserve, and when the war broke out in 1941, Raymond entered the US Army. 

He was in the nation’s first organized combat of the war, serving as a foot-soldier with the 47th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division, in and around Tunisia, North Africa, where he received a battlefield commission to Sergeant.

After victories in Africa, his unit then participated in the capture of Sicily in 1943, and after rest and recuperation leave in Britain, landed on France’s Normandy beach just days after D-Day in 1944, while the battle still raged.

Mr. Coniglio also saw combat in Belgium and Germany, and received battle ribbons for Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia/Sicily, Normandy, Northern France/Ardennes-Alsace, and Rhineland/Central Europe.  He was awarded battle honor citations for the Battle of Cherbourg, France, and the Battles of Wilhelmshohe and Oberkirchen, Germany; bloody campaigns that helped secured the Allied victory.  Once, while in Germany, he encountered Marty Pepe, a childhood friend from Buffalo, serving with a different unit in the same combat zone.  The old friends had a photo taken on the rear deck of an Army tank, a photo that Coniglio cherished for the remainder of his life.  During his tours in Africa and Europe, Coniglio received theater ribbons for Algeria-French Morocco; Tunisia; Sicily; Normandy/Northern France; Ardennes-Alsace/Rhineland (the Battle of the Bulge); and Central Europe  On his way to his battlefield commission from 'buck private' to Sergeant, he earned  six Bronze Service Stars, a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.  He also received battle honors for the batlles of Cherbourg in France and the battles of Oberkirchen and Wilhelmshohe in Germany.   In 1994, the government of France awarded him the Liberté medal on the fiftieth anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy.

After discharge, he served with the Buffalo Sewer Authority until retirement in 1980.  While at the Authority he rescued a woman in distress from the Niagara River, after she had fallen in while fishing.  He received the Authority’s Award for Service 'beyond the call of duty'.

Mr. Coniglio is survived by two sons, Raymond Guy of Sebastian, Florida, and Ronald Andrew (Debra) of Amherst; by five grandchildren, Raymond Guy Coniglio Jr. (Kelly), Robert Coniglio (Mindy), Rebecca (Marc) Scherrer, Amanda Skinner, and Zachary Skinner; six great-grandchildren, Haley Jee and Ryan James Coniglio, Catherine Nancy and Margaret Kathleen Scherrer, and Sarah Jane and Andrew Raymond Coniglio; by a sister, Concetta Miller of Illinois and a brother, Angelo (Angela) of Amherst, and by dozens of nephews and nieces, including his godchildren, nephew Angelo Raymond Coniglio and niece Jean Coniglio Silvestro.  His wife of fifty-four years, the former Marion Cappellano, passed away in 2005, and he was also pre-deceased by his brothers Gaetano (late Mary), Leonard, Felice (late Betty) and Anthony Sr. (late Frances), and by his sister Carmela (late Alfred) Volo and Mary (late Frank Sr.) Sowa of Buffalo.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on November 29, 2011 at his former parish of St. Leo the Great in Amherst by the pastor, the Rev. Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel, and by Father Charles Amico, a family friend.  He was interred next to his beloved wife Marion at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Tonawanda, New York.


Purple Heart Day on August 7 commemorates the creation of the oldest American military decoration for military merit. The Purple Heart honors the men and women who are of the Military Order of the Purple Heart..

Until Washington’s 200th birthday, the Purple Heart persisted as a Revolutionary War footnote. Through the efforts of General Douglas MacArthur, the U.S. War Department created the Order of the Purple Heart. Today the medal bears a bust of George Washington and his coat of arms.

While an accurate and complete list of names no longer exists, National Geographic recently estimated that nearly 1.9 million Purple Hearts have been awarded since its creation. It’s the oldest U.S. military honor still bestowed upon service members today. Until 1944, the Purple Heart recognized service members’ commendable actions as well. Then in 1944, the requirements limited the award to only those wounded or killed in combat.

In 2019, on Purple Heart Day, Erie County honored residents and former residents who received the award.


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Gaetano & Rosina










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