Medals and Citations - American Area Campaign, European Mideast Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, World War II Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation
Duties: Responsible for all radio and radio-related equipment used by the Army Air Corps. All radio equipment located on all land facilities and army aircraft. Must have knowledge in radio transmissions and antenna installations, must have knowledge in radio repair, battery installation and shipment. Duties include repair, installation shipment and part identification and replacement. Duties include not only on military base but also in field conditions.
Married - Phyllis (Crino) Ricotta on Oct. 31, 1945 at Holy Trinity Parish
Anthony J. Ricotta Sr., U.S. Army Air Corp
Children: Francis Clark, Annette Julian, Grace Velk, Anthony Ricotta Jr., Mary Ann Pryll, Samuel Ricotta.
Grandchildren: Bob Clark, Sherri Manoschia, Chad Velk, Briana D'Angelo, Zachary Ricotta, Ryan Clark, Phillip Julian, Nick Velk, Amber Smith, Jordan Ricotta, Shauna Clark, Ashley Julian, Jason Ricotta, Nicole Pryll, Carla Shafer, Lucas Julian, Justin Ricotta and Paul Ricotta.
Great-grandchildren: Cassie Clark, Makalia Schafer, Carter Smith, Crasta Clark, Thomas Schafer, Brendon Julian, Kayla Clark, Kaizer D'Angelo, Austin Clark, Tyianna Smith.
Anthony J. Ricotta Sr. was born on April 11, 1918, at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. Anthony's family included his sisters Grace (Crino) and Rose (Mancuso) along with brothers Sam and Joseph.
They resided at their Leopard and Second Street home for five years before moving to their new home at 43 Ruggles St. in the city of Dunkirk.
Anthony's mother Francis (Valentine) could always be remembered for being hard working. Anthony recalls some days in which his mother spent 18 to 20 hours a day keeping the family's "ma and pa" grocery store running smoothly.
It was located at Ruggles and Wright streets. The family corner store brought groceries as well as fresh fruits and vegetables to their neighborhood friends and customers.
Ricotta went to Dunkirk School 3 and still remembers his first grade teacher's name: Ms. Abel. Other teachers he remembered were the Karin sisters and his first principal was Mrs. Bugonberg.
After that he attended Dunkirk High School where he held an after-school job delivering fruits and vegetables from house to house. He later picked up a Ford panel truck from Cease's Commissary and expanded his business to include delivering groceries until 1942.
With the war in its first gear, induction came on April 27, 1942. After taking the test given by Uncle Sam on his induction it was determined that Anthony Ricotta's talents were in being a radioman. Ricotta traveled to Bellewell, Ill., to go to the U.S. Army Air Corp Radio School.
At Scott Field in the Air Corp Radio School morse code was the number one priority, constantly repeating it over and over. It was even done backward so that it could not only be sent but also received while sleeping.
After graduation, Ricotta was given orders for his final destination to be Casablanca, North Africa Air Corp TAOR (tactical area of responsibility). He still to this day remembers the 13 days sailing the Atlantic coping with rough seas and dodging enemy submarines. While going overseas he recalled meeting a friend from our area Russ Siragusa.
Ricotta was assigned to an oasis-like position in the Sahara Desert called Biskra, Algeria. His unit had faced confrontation with Romells Phanther units. After the German Army was pushed out of North Africa, Ricotta was sent to Tinusa.
Next came Sicily putting up at Katnia where his duties included delivering radio equipment to Bore, Italy while in route to Bore, Ricotta had a chance to visit his Godfather Joseph LaSpada who he had not seen for a some time. They spent the night at LaSpada's home in Messina, Sicily. They reminisced about the old times. The next morning came and Ricotta was headed to Bore and while crossing a pond his jeep got stuck.
While in the middle a couple local men offered a hand and in return only asked for a few American cigarettes. Next he was off to Naples, while being assigned in Rome he had the opportunity to be in an audience of Pope Pius the 12th.
While in Naples, a trip up the leaning Tower of Pisa was included in his military memories. Other areas of his tour included Salzburg, Austria; and Prague, Czechoslovakia.
A close call came in a flight where the plane was made to make a crash landing, which was around 11 p.m. on his flight back to Naples from Prague. While in flight, the plane started to have problems the pilot noticed fuel problems that indicated the plane was loosing fuel at a fast rate of speed. As the plane was losing altitude. the pilot found a landing strip at Regensburg, Germany. The plane landed on its belly. He recalled that by running out of fuel, actually turned out to be a good thing cause it didn't explode when it hit the ground. Ricotta recalls this as his greatest war experience.
As the war was ending, Anthony had witnessed parts of the war that he will live forever with including the death camp at Dachau with the furnaces, the buildings, and the stories. He also had the chance to visit Hitler's private eagle nest, which was another sight that showed the way the man who brought this war to the world lived while others suffered in his death camps.
War had its enemies, but in some cases it made friends. Sometimes it created close friends and in Anthony Ricotta Sr.'s case it brought two: George Beal from Arizona, in which Ricotta kept contact, and Fenton Peterson from Rochester.
After the military, Ricotta worked at his family store until 1956 when it was time to close his business after being offered a position at the Cease Commissary as a shipper checker until 1970.
Then he worked at Fredonia State College. Ricotta was employed until 1984 when he took retirement he deserved.
While in retirement, he still needed something, so he decided to help out at Open View Windows in Fredonia at his son's business part-time doing whatever he could to help out.
When his official retirement came it still didn't slow Anthony Ricotta down. An avid bicyclist brought many daily trips by bicycle to Brocton or Angola just to get a cup of coffee. His son Anthony Jr. recalled that his dad took a bicycle trip from Dunkirk to Buffalo. Anthony Ricotta Sr. loves to garden and loves being with his family. He adores and loves all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He enjoys cooking and having the family over for dinner at least twice a week was a routine. He also liked writing articles in the OBSERVER and wrote as many as was allowed.
What an honor again to have this story told. How many people had passed this man riding a bicycle along Route 20 and knew, actually knew there goes a World War II hero! World War II hero Anthony Ricotta Sr. Not many, but there he was and that's how the greatest generation went on, they went on not waiting for someone to say or give them something. Anthony Ricotta Sr. came back, put his uniform in the closet and went back to work.
If we needed him again I'm sure he would be there at the train station and just go do what our country had asked of him.
For that Anthony Ricotta Sr. is our hero of the week!
- Story of Anthony Ricotta Sr. was written in collaboration with his son Anthony Ricotta Jr. and submitted by John Fedyszyn Fredonia