Italian American WWII Heroes – The Puniello Brothers

To remember the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, NIAF is recognizing Italian Americans who sacrificed, served and defended peace, freedom and democracy during the war, using the tag #IAWW2Heroes on social media.

This entry is a special submission from Nick Puniello Sr.’s son, Nick Puniello Jr.

From left to right: Dominick, Nick, Frank, John and Felix Puniello.

Carmine Puniello came to the United States in 1909 from Frosolone, a town in the region of Molise, Italy. He and his wife Anna built their home on 76 Richmond St, Bristol, RI in 1922. They had six children. Their only daughter, Mary, taught secondary education in the Bristol School System for more than 36 years. All five of their sons–Dominick, Nick, Frank, John and Felix–served their country in wars and afterwards, came back home to Bristol and lived there for the rest of their lives. The four eldest sons served in the US Navy during World War II and the youngest served in the US Army during the Korean War:

Dominick (1919-1994) served in the US Navy for three years as an Electrician Mate Third Class and was stationed at NTC Sampson, NY; USNTS Detroit, MI; and NAS Corpus Christi, TX. In his last year of service, he was assigned to a photographic laboratory. It was there he developed his love for photography. After he was discharged he returned to Bristol and opened Puniello Studio’s which was the premier studio in the Bristol, County Area for more than 30 years. He married Philomena Cupolo and they had two sons Carmine and Anthony.

Nick (1921 – 2011) served in the US Navy reaching the rank of Electronics Technicians Mate Petty Officer Second Class.  He was first assigned to the USS Murphy participating in the invasion of North Africa and the Naval Battle of Casablanca. While on shore leave in Casablanca, he had a chance meeting with a fellow Bristolian in a Kasbah.  Following the end of the invasion of Sicily, while escorting a convoy out of New York harbor in 1943, the ship was struck and split in two about 75 miles off the coast of New Jersey.  Nick was in the forward part of the ship that sank and he looked up and “swam for the light”.  He was hospitalized for weeks with jellyfish stings in New York, where his brother Frank visited him several times. He was later assigned to the Battleship USS New York participating in the battle for Okinawa.  After the war, he worked for many years as a dental repair service technician. He married Ann St. George and had three sons, Nick, Mike and Paul.

Frank “Sabu” (1925-2018) served his country as a Seaman First Class in WWII in the US Navy with the “Seabee’s” receiving the European-African Middle Eastern Theatre Metal, the American Theatre Metal and the Eastern Theatre Metal, the American Theatre Metal and the WWII Victory Metal. Upon returning to Bristol he worked as a carpenter and later started the Puniello Construction Company. He then worked for the Raytheon Company for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the Bristol Athletic Hall of Fame and was a lifetime member of Engine 4 of the Bristol Volunteer Fire Department. Frank was the last surviving of his five siblings and passed away in 2018.

John (1927 – 1985) followed his brother Frank in the US Navy “Seabees” organization.  He served with the 31st Battalion in Kyushu, Japan, earning the Victory Medal and the Asian Pacific Medal.  He was discharged in 1946 as a Seaman First Class. He brought home a Japanese rifle as a souvenir.  He worked for Kaiser Aluminum and was also a talented stone mason.  He married Hortense “Tancy” Carreira and had two children, John and Frances Ann.

Felix (1929 – 2009) Felix enlisted in the US Army in 1946 after the end of WWII and served in the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. He enlisted at Fort Banks in Boston and was assigned to the Panama Canal Department. He was discharged in 1950 as a Private. He worked for Carr-Fulflex and also owned an ice cream business. He was a talented bridge player and an avid golfer. He has one son, Joseph.

If you’d like to make a submission to NIAF’s #IAWW2Heroes initiative, email the photo and description to

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