Known as the “Fighting Santoros,” a Medford family went above and beyond to answer the call of their country in World War II.
Eight Santoro brothers fought in WWII at the same time. Seven of them were overseas at the same time.
The last remaining Santoros brother is 90-year-old Rosario “Charlie” Santoro. He’s lived in Medford his entire life.
Last weekend, he participated in an Honor Flight New England trip to Washington, D.C. for a day.
The trip included visits to the military memorials in the nation’s capital.
The Santoros had 17 children in their family. There were ten brothers and seven sisters. Eugene and Concetta Santoro raised their large family on Wheeler Street in South Medford. Most of the siblings were born just after 1900.
Charlie served in the Navy after joining in 1945. He was one of the seven brothers who served overseas. He was part of a crew delivering troops and supplies to Philippine islands and, at the end of the war, bringing Australian prisoners of war home from Japan.
The other Santoro brothers who served in the war are: Jim, Joe, Leo, Paul, John, Tom and Harry. The family has kept a detailed record of the service of the “Fighting Santoros.” Currently, Laura Jane Lucas serves as the family historian. She is the daughter of the third oldest Santoro sibling, Mary Santoro Meano.
Charlie himself still remembers each brother’s rank, and the years and places they served.
The only Santoro to serve stateside was Giacomo “James” Santoro. He was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary from 1944-1945. He was assigned to guard the oil supply tanks in East Boston.
Paul Santoro was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he received from a grenade while helping another soldier get to safety. Paul recovered and returned to fighting, Itemlive reported.
On Veterans Day in 2011, the former mayor of Medforditemlive, Michael J. McGlynn led a ceremony. During the ceremony, four street corners were named after Medford families who had multiple members serve in WWII. The corner of Main and Wheeler streets was declared to be “Santoro Brothers Corner.”
Medford Veterans Services director Ernest Lindsay said that 10,514 Medford residents served in WWII. That’s approximately 17% of the population in 1940. That’s one of the highest rates in the state for a single community. There is a memorial on Winthrop Street near the entrance of Medford High School with the names of all residents who served in the war.