By Kate Anslinger
Last Saturday, 73 years after PFC Andrew G. Biggio was killed in action on Sept. 17, 1944, town officials marked the anniversary with a memorial dedication on the corner of Main and Hermon streets. Several speakers shared words about the tragedy of war and the importance of remembering of our nation’s heroes.
The dedication drew elected officials from state and local offices.
“I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday than to honor these heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedom,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.
Speaking at the dedication was special guest Brigadier General Jon A. Jensen, Commander, “Red Bull Division” of the 34th Infantry Division Saint Paul, Minn. Also joining him were state Sen. Joseph Boncore, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and director of Winthrop veterans service Roseann Mazzuchelli.
Biggio’s loss is still felt today amongst not only his family and friends, but also the military members who continue to serve.
“I have met many who served with PFC Biggio,” said Jensen. “It was a hard month for the division. They fought and died because they stood up to hatred and bigotry.”
Boncore touched upon the massive loss that the town of Winthrop suffered as a result of the war
“This town suffered so much loss,” said Boncore. “It’s important we remember that and it’s a testament to the entire army that PFC Biggio’s fellow service members travelled from Minnesota to be here today.”
Fellow service member and East Boston resident, Rocco Tellese , who served at the same time as PFC Biggio, was awarded the Purple Heart at the closing of the ceremony.
“I really shouldn’t be here,” said Tellese. “I feel every day that I didn’t give enough.”
The new sign dedicated to PFC Andrew G. Biggio is a reminder of the sacrifice that he made and the rippling effect it left behind.
“There was no former dedication 50 years ago,” said Biggio’s nephew also named Andrew Biggio.
Pfc. Biggio was the brother of John Biggio, who owns the insurance company in Winthrop, and Alfonse Biggio.
Biggio, born in 1925, enlisted on November 11, 1943 after graduating from Boston Latin High School earlier in 1943 and was assigned as an Infantry replacement to “B” Company, 135th Infantry Regiment, and 34th Infantry Division. Pfc. Biggio was killed in action when his unit was assaulting German positions along the Gothic Line in Italy. The mountain range he was on suffered a barrage of artillery fire. Pfc. Biggio was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart during this action. He was born and raised in Winthrop, attended Winthrop schools through the ninth grade before transferring to Boston Latin.
“He was eager to fight and serve his country. He was sent to North Africa and Italy,” said nephew Andrew Biggio. “I’ve read all his letters he sent home. One letter in July said he never wanted to see combat again.”
Pfc. Biggio and other paid the price for each hill they defended.
“He wrote about wanting to go to Cannes to relax,” Andrew Biggio said.