Leo J. Wasilkowski, who shortened his name after his service career, was born in Laurel Hill and raised in Brooklyn. As a student and altar boy at St. Stan’s in Greenpoint, he earned a medal for Regents exam marks.
He voluntarily entered the U.S. Army Air Corps. Upon his arrival at the 8th Air Force complex in England he was joined by the nine men with whom he would fly 35 combat missions. At that time, the maximum number of combat missions completed to return to the states was 25.
As he and his tight-knit crew of ten reached 24, the target was increased to 30. As they reached 29, the target went to 35. At 34 missions, Wasil insisted he and his crew would not fly more than 35 missions. His protest worked, and his plane was taken off the flight line.
Once home, newlyweds Wasil and Amelia Puisys moved to Maspeth and raised three boys, Steve, Richard and James. Grandchildren Lawrence and Rachel round out the family tree. Wasil worked for 23 years as a police officer and 14 years with Bulova. He is affiliated with Knights of Columbus, and American Legion Post #683.
Anthony “Lefty” Simone was born and raised in Brooklyn. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in January 1952 during the fury of the Korean War. After 16 weeks of basic and advanced training, he was sent to Fort Hood to train as a tanker. He quickly requests to return to an infantry outfit.
His next stop is the Mung Dung Valley in Korea, also known as “Heartbreak Ridge.” He is assigned to the 780th field artillery battalion as a gun mechanic, and the fighting is almost non-stop by the Communists to drive the U.S. Army below the 38th Parallel.
On the night before the war ended, Anthony was corporal of the guard and assigned to protect the perimeter. The fighting came to an end on July 27, 1953, at 10 p.m. The Korean War was relatively short, but exceptionally bloody. Nearly 5 million people died, including almost 40,000 Americans. More than 100,000 soldiers were wounded.
Anthony and Rose, his wife of 57 years, have three children, Philip, Louise, and Denise, and eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They still reside in Glendale. Simone worked for six years with Chrysler Corp. and 40 years as an insurance and real estate broker. The Knights of Columbus, Lions Club and U.N.I.C.O have also kept Simone busy throughout his life.