He had EVERYTHING against him, born in a tenement in Pittsburgh's tough
north side, the 11 members of his family lived in a run-down shack with no electricity or
running water. They shared an outhouse with several other alley-families.
Growing up tough, the swaggering youth thought he was a fighter and had faced several
arrests for gang brawls. Shortly after joining the army, he went AWOL. Rumors
spread through the neighborhood that he was a coward.
Returning to face courts-martial, he "got his act together".
Fearless in combat, he was soon nicknamed "Commando" by an adoring news media.
In Italy his company was trapped in a bombed-out house, only thirty men remaining
unwounded and ammunition almost gone. The resourceful young soldier who had learned
to "live by his wits" began dropping mortars on the enemy BY HAND.
Remaining behind to cover the withdrawal of his entire company, he faced the arriving
Germans in the doorway of the house ALONE. Hiding in the shadows, he waited for them
to enter, then stepped forward to meet them. Firing his last two clips of
ammunition, he killed the enemy, saved his company, and returned to fight yet another day.