The cap. Albert John Calcaterra was one of the few men whose name included a gold star on the war service plaque at St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church.
While serving in France, the 28-year-old from Walkerville was killed in action on July 6, 1944.
What was even more tragic is that when you read about his death in old newspaper clippings, you learn that he was the third son his mother, Louisa Calcaterra, a widow, had lost in three years.
Albert’s 30-year-old brother Mario, a miner, died on December 6, 1941, from injuries sustained at the Belmont mine. Another brother, Carlo, 36, also a minor, died less than two months later from an undisclosed illness.
Calcaterra’s name was one of many names on the World War II plaque.
I wish there was time, I wish there was room because, like Calcaterra, there is definitely a fascinating story to be told about each person mentioned on the historical plaque. Here are a few.
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Pvt. Arthur “Tudo” Stagnoli, an infantryman, was recalled to active service on June 6, 1944, a date that would later become D-Day.
Just three days before reenlisting, Stagnoli married an Irishwoman, Margaret Eleanor Walsh, at St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church. She too was from Walkerville.
Old Montana Standard clippings from the World War II era can be a wealth of information. In the pages of the old bound volumes are articles about Stagnoli, including being wounded in action on the big island of Mindanao in the Philippines on May 11, 1945.
In a letter to his mother, Maria Stagnoli, no mention was made of his injuries. Instead, he assured his mother that everything was fine and “not to worry”.
Stagnoli was officially released on September 3, 1946. The U.S. government, however, believed he had already been released. In late February 1945, he received an interesting letter delivered to his mother’s home address, 330 W. Daly St.
It was a Selective Service card instructing Stagnoli to “please call this office as soon as possible and bring your discharge papers with you”. Sorry, I can’t do that. In fact, it was an impossible task as the former miner was still stationed at the Pacific Theater.
Stagnoli, 47, died suddenly on July 17, 1957, leaving behind his pregnant wife, a son, Tudo, and a daughter, Mary. Her son, Bob, was born six months after her death on January 23, 1958.
A gold star was placed next to Pvt. The name of Patrick Bolton too.
Bolton chose not to complete his education at Boys Central High School. Instead, the 17-year-old enlisted in the army on July 5, 1943. His two brothers, Richard and Frank, were also serving – one in the army, the other in the navy.
The young man, who had attended St. Lawrence Elementary School, is said to have graduated from high school in 1944 and, before joining the Armed Forces, was already working as a truck driver for the Symon department store in Uptown Butte .
Just two months before the Germans surrendered, Bolton was killed in action in Germany. He was 20 years old.
In a section of the honor roll inside the 1945 year of Boys Central High School, all BC students who were killed in the line of duty, including Bolton, were listed , as well as a patriotic poem, “The Flag Defenders”.
You won’t find former Maroon Michael P. O’Hara on this Boys Central honor list. This is because his death was not verified until May 26, 1945, when the annual had already been printed. Prior to the notification, Staff Sgt. O’Hara had been reported missing in action. Assigned to an Air Force unit, the radioman was killed in action over Rees, Germany
A standout athlete at Boys Central, O’Hara played football and was a goaltender for the school hockey team. His name was added to the St. Lawrence plaque not because he was a parishioner, but because his wife, Elizabeth Odgers O’Hara was.
O’Hara actually graduated from another Catholic elementary school, Sacred Heart, at 446 E. Park St.
A 1939 graduate of Butte High, Louis Mansanti was described as a “people person.” He was also said to have had a great memory, which allowed him to converse about many past events.
The Walkerville native, whose middle name was Marcellino, was born on April 5, 1912. His father, Lorence, was an Italian immigrant and his mother, Mary, a daughter of Italian immigrants.
During World War II, Mansanti spent four years in the service, much of it at the Pacific Theater.
After the war, Mansanti decided to take advantage of the GI Bill and continue his education. He took courses at Butte Business College and proved to be a very good student. So much so that for the month of February 1947, he obtained an automatic mark of 100% and was exempted from the monthly spelling test.
By June of that year, he had completed his shorthand course and apparently excelled in typing as well. It was noted in the October 26, 1947 Montana Standard that Mansanti returned a “perfect typing test”.
Mansanti was 86 when he died on August 2, 1998, and spent his entire life as a resident of Walkerville.
Another proud Walkerville resident was Rudy Tomazich.
The United States had not yet entered the war when the 26-year-old left for basic training on February 20, 1941.
Months before the attack on December 7, 1941, the young man from Walkerville was already stationed in Australia. The world might be at war, but love was also in the air. While at Rockhampton in Queensland, he met telephone operator, Dulcie Damm, and the two were married on October 2, 1942.
Married life was put on hold for a time as Master Sgt. Tomazich would see fights in Fiji, New Guinea and the Philippines
In March 1946, he and his wife were living in his childhood home at 77 Capitol Hill in Walkerville and would soon welcome a daughter, Trudy, and later, a son, Stephen.
There are dozens of Montana Standard articles about Tomazich and it’s more than obvious that the man loved sports, especially baseball. Before the war, he was a player with the Walkerville community baseball team. The team won the industrial league championship two years in a row, 1940 and 1941. He would later manage several teams.
Tomazich may have played hard, but he also worked hard, retiring in 1976 from Safeway Stores, Inc. He was also credited (no pun intended) with helping to establish the Safeway Credit Union.
Finally, this story would not be complete without mentioning the military women of the parish. The plaque bears the names of several dedicated women, including Rita Hanley, Genevieve Lee, Lorraine Dooley and Helen Lynch, who lived at 119 W. Daly St.
A registered nurse, Lynch reported for active duty as a second lieutenant in June 1943.
A graduate of St. Lawrence Grade School and Girls Central High School, she received her nursing degree in 1932 from St. James Hospital School of Nursing.
Lynch was with the Army Air Corps and was stationed in England for 18 months. When the war ended, Butte’s nurse was still on active duty and serving at Camp Beale, California.
In late 1948, Lynch made local history when she was installed as the senior vice-commander of Butte’s first all-female American Legion Station 119. The new post was organized in honor of another army nurse from Butte, Lieutenant Viviana Cronin, who was killed in a plane crash in 1944 near a military airbase in Prestwick, Scotland. .