Pfc. Salvatore J. Bondi - United States Army
79th (Lorraine) Division - 1944/1945
Salvatore J. Bondi was born on February
3, 1922, to Mary and Salvatore Bondi of Greenwood Street in Morningside. Sal
was the youngest of thirteen children. After two years at Arsenal High School,
he quit school to take a job as a Drill Press Operator. After the United States
entry into World War II, Sal enlisted in the Army and was sworn in on October
Sal left for basic training on October
27, 1942. After infantry training at Camp Pickett, Virginia, Private Salvatore
Bondi, Serial No. 33308456, was assigned to the Anti-Tank Company of the 315th
Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division, as an Anti-Tank Gun Crewman. The
division left the United States on April 7, 1944, and after sailing across the
Atlantic, arrived in England nine days later.
After training in the United Kingdom,
beginning on April 17, 1944, Sal Bondi and the rest of the 79th (Lorraine)
Infantry Division departed for France and landed on Utah Beach, Normandy,
on June 12. The soldiers entered combat on June 19, 1944. The men of the Lorraine
Division engaged in heavy fighting south of Cherbourg and entered the coastal
town on June 25, 1944. It was their baptism of fire.
Over the next six months, Sal was
involved in several major campaigns, including the battles in Normandy,
Northern France, the Rhineland and Central Europe. During the Battle of the
Bulge, units of the 79th Division were attached to the Third Army, and Sal
was assigned as one of General George S. Patton's drivers.
The fiery three-star general, commander
of the United States Third Army, was a leader who prefered to command from
the front. On January 10, 1945, the General, with Sal at the wheel of
his jeep, was surveying some front-line units near the town of Luneville in
U.S. General George S.
As Sal recalls, "He stops me and
gets out. He says, 'Go down that road a little bit and see what you see.'
You know what I saw down there? All the damn Germans. They captured me.
You know what he got out of that jeep for? He knew they were there. He
knew he couldn't get captured. He was too smart for that."
"The Germans took me to Nuremberg
and held me for four and a half months, until Patton came back and took
the town about a month before the war ended."
Once liberated, Bondi spent the next
few months at a base hospital recuperating. In September 1945, Sal was sent
back to the United States to convalesce at a rehabilitation center for POWs
in Ashville, North Carolina. Fifty pounds lighter and with the war behind
him, Private First Class Salvatore J. Bondi, now a decorated veteran, began
the long road to recovery.
Ribbons and Medals earned by
Sal Bondi in World War II.
During his time overseas, Sal was
awarded the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Unit
Badge, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, the Prisoner of War Medal, the
European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with four Bronze Stars,
and the Good Conduct Medal, along with several other distinguished ribbons
Sal's active duty status ended on
October 11, 1945, and he received his official discharge from duty on August
26, 1946. He returned home to Pittsburgh to his family and his sweetheart,
Josephine Garofalo, whose family owned a Shoe Repair Store and an adjacent
Grocery Store on Brookline Boulevard. Sal and Josephine were married right
away, and settled into the family home, located above the two businesses at
712 Brookline Boulevard.
Josephine's brother, Frank Garofalo,
owned the Shoe Repair Store. Her father owned the Grocery and, nearing
retirement age, sold the store to Sal, who promptly began his own
business, "Sal's Barber Shop." Sal and Josephine had two children, Agnes
and Salvatore. The father and son are affectionately known as "Big Sal"
and "Little Sal." For the past sixty-plus years, Sal's Barber Shop
has remained one of the few constants in the ever-changing storefront vista
along Brookline Boulevard's commercial district.
Sal's daughter Agnes has remained in the
family home above the shop. Little Sal, after graduating from Barber College
in 1973, moved to Los Angeles, California, and started his own hair-styling
salon, where he prospered for over thirty years.
In 2005, Little Sal Bondi, and his wife
of twenty years Lynn, returned to Brookline to purchase a home and spend more
time with his mother and father. The younger Salvatore soon began working in
the barber shop that his father first opened back in 1947.
Little Sal and Big Sal Bondi at the
family shop on Brookline Boulevard.
For a few years, the father and son
team of Big and Little Sal worked side-by-side. Only recently, after the
passing of his wife Josephine, has ninety year old Salvatore J. Bondi settled
into full-time retirement, although he still keeps a silent vigil, from his
upstairs apartment, over the barber shop and family business that he began
over sixty years ago.
Now the sole owner of Sal's Barber
Shop on Brookline Boulevard, Little Sal Bondi displays with pride his
father's many war momentos and photos for his customers to see. The walls
of the shop are lined with decorations commemorating the life of Big Sal
Bondi, one of Brookline's most distinguished World War II
Sal's Barber Shop - 712 Brookline Boulevard,
Pittsburgh, PA 15226.
"Big Sal" Bondi passed away on February 20, 2014. The Community
of Brookline lost a good friend and the United States of America
lost another member of the "Greatest Generation."
* Thanks to Little Sal
Bondi, son of Big Sal, for contributing this information. *
Written by Clint Burton - May 23, 2012