Combat Medic, World War II
Unit: Medical detachment 127th 2nd SCU; Medical detachment 1st Battalion 36th Engineering Regiment
TAOR: (Territorial Area of Responsibility) - Algeria, French Morocco, Naples, Foggia, Italy , Sicily, Italy
Michael Valvo, U.S. Army
Medals and Awards: European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, Good Conduct, World War II Victory Medal, Purple Heart, Silver Star, New York State Conspicuous Service Medal, Expert M1 Rifle, Sharp Shooter M 45 caliber pistol
Purple Heart: This medal is awarded to any member of our armed forces who meets the requirement issued by Congress. The medal is awarded to any member of the armed forces of the U.S. who while serving under competent authority in any capacity after April 5, 1917 is wounded or killed while engaged in action with any enemy of the U.S.
The Silver Star: The third highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to any branch of our service for valor in the face of the enemy. It's awarded to anyone who distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism against an enemy of the U.S.
Married: June 14, 1952, Lucile (Tanner) at the Methodist Church in Forestville. They have been married for 58 years.
Children: Carol McEntarfer, Gary Valvo, Vicky Valvo
Grandchildren: Terri Rosier, Robert North, Timothy North, Natalie Valvo
Great-grandchildren: Tyler North, Trey North, Trevor North, Kayla North, Jennica North, Leah North and Shelby Smith
Area accomplishments: Cub master, Scout Master Boy Scout, Little League Founder, fifth and sixth grade basketball, past president for PTA, school board member, 1958-1968, President, chief, assistant chief, Forestville Fire Department; captain, lieutenant, Emergency Squad; Chautauqua County EMS Council, 1982 to present.
Committees and Participation in the following: Retention, recruitment, education, public relations, EMS Week, EMS Prevention, EMT since 1972, EMT Instructor, CPR Instructor, Certified Lab Instructor, trustee, Village Board Forestville
Michael S. Valvo was born on Jan. 5, 1920, at his parents' small farmhouse on Hanover Road. He is the son of Samuel and Sarah (Randazzo). The family consisted of five brothers and three sisters who had to learn to live in close quarters in the family's small home. His father was a grape farmer working constantly in the fields. When World War II arrived his dad was given a job as a welder at the steel plant in Dunkirk.
Valvo started his first day of school with a group of kids who were all different ages in a one-room schoolhouse at Forestville's town of Hanover District School. The single teacher taught all the classes. When high school came, things changed drastically for him. At the Forestville High School, he attended classes with kids all his age. High school brought a chance to play sports. Football excited him so after tryouts he was thrilled to see his name on the roster of high school varsity team players for the upcoming season.
Forestville at the time didn't offer baseball or track, which were sports that he really wanted to play.
As high school was winding down, most seniors couldn't wait for graduation so they could go their own way. Finally it was June 1938. Valvo accepted his diploma. Along with his diploma he received his letter for football.
He and his parents moved to 40 Main St. where he still lives to this day. His Main Street address made it easy to get his first job.
After getting his diploma his first real job where he received a weekly paycheck was driving a school bus. He later applied and was accepted as the postmaster at the Forestville Post Office. He liked it at first, but hated being inside all day long. One day when he reported to work at the Post Office heads were spinning because he wanted to be a mail carrier instead which was considered a starting position. He also held positions working for the Forestville School system in the custodial field.
Valvo, like most young people, spent most of his free time just hanging around the center of town in Forestville at the Forestville Hotel or the town diner. On weekends, most of the kids his age met at a local farm where bands came in and barn dances were held. The girls all came in groups and brought food and the boys brought wood for the bonfire. Each threw in money to help pay for the band. Most farmers were grape farmers so refreshments made with grapes were common. He explained that the kids he hung out with knew right from wrong and respected each other. He always had good times and trouble never found its way to his good times while he grew up.
On a Sunday morning in Hawaii, (Dec. 7, 1941) the Japanese Navy bombed the U.S. Naval Fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor. Later that day the news hit the U.S. mainland and as in all small towns the winds of war were being felt.
While the perception is that a flood of young men immediately headed for some military boot camp, that was not the case. Our country was not ready to accept every man that was 18 years or older; we weren't ready with facilities, training and equipment. We needed planes, ships, bases and qualified instructors.
For Valvo it was wait until we call you. Finally he received a letter from Uncle Sam which stated he was to report to the Fort Niagara for his basic training. After he received his boot training he was off to Fort Belvoir, Va., for 16 weeks of medical training. Next he was trained at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Valvo received training in the medic field to be used in combat situations. On Nov. 8, 1942, his first official non-training orders put him on a troop cargo carrier which headed for Africa. His duties were to administer aid to any of the ship's crew that required medial attention.
While in Africa he was assigned to the medical detachment 36th combat engineers. It was here he received wounds while on patrol from a mine which was tripped by a soldier walking near him who hit its trip wire. For these wounds received in action he was awarded the Purple Heart. As the war progressed he saw action in Algeria, French Morocco, Naples, Sicily, Foggia and Anzio, Italy.
On July 10, 1943, in Licata, Sicily Valvo earned the nation's third highest award, the Silver Star. The citation read in his military record books as follows: Confidential Subject Award of the Silver Star to Private First Class Michael S. Valvo 32252379 medical detachment, First BN. 36th engineering regiment 1. Under the provisions of army regulations 600-45 as amended, a Silver Star is awarded to Private First Class Michael S. Valvo. 2. Michael S. Valvo 32252379 Private First Class, medical detachment, 1st battalion, 36th engineering regiment for Gallantry in action at Licata, Sicily on July 10, 1943. The LCI on which PFC Valvo and other men of his unit were embarked beached at Red Beach at a point where the depth of the water was well above the heads of the men and the bottom was rocky and slippery. Added to the harassing enemy fire directed at the landing craft (LCI), the men had to contend with a strong undertow and the weight of their equipment. Some of them, unable to overcome these difficulties by their inability to swim were at the point of drowning, had it not been for PFC Valvo. He plunged into the surf to their rescue. Three men would undoubtedly have drowned. Private First Class Valvo's unselfish and heroic actions are the highest traditions of military service. Residence at enlistment Forestville, N.Y. By Command Lt. General Rahe
PFC Valvo finished his tour by the time the war ended. He received his honorable discharge on Aug. 2, 1945. As most soldiers, he returned to his home. He picked up where he left off. That was all Valvo wanted. Many men and women who went overseas talked about returning to the places where they once served. To me that's one of the few good things that comes from serving and being stationed in another country. One gets to see parts of the world one would never have seen if not for military service. There is not a day that goes by when Valvo doesn't go back to the war days as most who have seen combat do. That one place in the world that even after 50 years still holds this power over you and brings your mind back.
When the war was over and Valvo had returned to Forestville, he became active with his community. He was an active volunteer fireman and a member of the Forestville Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad. He participated in providing EMT classes for the community.
This 91-year-young veteran is enjoying his retirement by staying active. He is a member of the J. Carter Knapp Post 953 American Legion, life member VFW Post 6390, Sheridan life member and the Forestville Fire Department.
What a hero we have living on Main Street in Forestville. This is a story of a local boy who when high school ended just kept on doing good things. He not only did his duty, he did his duty above and beyond, coming home with the Purple Heart and Silver Star. The medals he received didn't change this local man. All Mike Valvo did was come back and keep giving to his community. Somewhere in our country there are three families that have grown from three soldiers that were overpacked in an LCI and almost lost their lives to drowning. God only knows how many are now because of the one day in Licata, Sicily on Red Beach where Valvo was credited for saving their lives. We will never know how many other families have loved ones because of his dedication.
What an honor it was to sit with this 91-year-young veteran and let him tell me his life story. This story not only belongs to his family. It's a story that belongs to all of us. He is our Mike Valvo. He went into the Army and represented this area. He was a local person and is a local hero. Thank you Mike Valvo, thank you for your service. For this, Mike Valvo is our Hero of the Week.