Baldwin resident Joseph Argenzio, Jr. was the youngest American soldier to fight on D-Day

(Page 2 of 3)
Argenzio said that the soldiers in the front of the landing craft were killed instantly, mowed down by German machine gun fire. With no safe way to advance forward, Argenzio jumped over the side of the vessel, losing his weapon and helmet in the process. Then he pulled two dead bodies in front of him to block the machine gun fire aimed in his direction. Eventually, he was able to get footing and took cover on the beach behind a wall.

“If you saw the picture Saving Private Ryan with boys in the water, guys getting killed ... That was my story, by the way,” Argenzio said in the interview.

Perhaps the only sign of Argenzio's age that day was when he grabbed a helmet and gun from an enemy soldier. The helmet went down to his nose.

As Argenzio's unit made its way up a hill, they had to dodge enemy fire, mortar shells and mines. But they managed to flank a couple of German machine gun stations and destroy them. The battle would continue for hours, but Argenzio's unit took a quick break at the top of the hill they had just taken.

“We got to the top and we stopped to get our breath and one guy reached in and takes out this little flag and he holds it up and he says 'Thank God we made it,'” Argenzio recalled in the interview. “And he's waving this little flag. That was the Army's ceremony that the Marines had on Iwo Jima, only we didn't have anybody taking our picture.”

After the war

When the war was over — Argenzio also fought at the Battle of the Bulge and helped free prisoners at a Czechoslovakian concentration camp — he moved to Baldwin, where he joined the Baldwin Volunteer Fire Department in 1963 and later served as a Baldwin fire commissioner. He also formed the Baldwin Fire Department's Drum and Bugle Corps, of which he and his three daughters were members.

Argenzio worked for the U.S. Department of Defense for 33 years before transferring to the State Department. He retired in 1984.

Page 2 / 3