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Michael A. Valente, Sr.

Submitted by: Ralph J. Madalena {Grandson}

Private First Class Michael Valente

Michael A. Valente Sr. was born around 1895. Michael Valente served in World War 1 with the United States Arm . The enlistment was in 1916 and the service was completed in 1918.

Story of Service

 

Michael A. Valente
1895 -1976

Michael Anthony Valente, Medal of Honor recipient and long time resident of the City of Long Beach, New York, died on January 10, 1976 at the age of 80. In every aspect of his life, he exemplified the very finest: beloved husband, proud father, grandfather and great grandfather; exemplary American citizen, heroic soldier, good neighbor and brotherly friend to all of the residents of Long Beach, no matter what ethnic origin, faith or race. He was loved, honored and respected by all who knew him.

Born in St. Apollinare, Italy, the son of Anthony Valente and Mary Palompo, and at the age of 18 he emigrated to America in 1913, through Ellis Island, to strive for a better life and success.

Utica, New York was his first home, then he traveled to Ogdensburg, New York where he stayed with his uncle and other family members. Michael had only been in the country three years when he entered Company D of the New York National Guard. It was his start down the road that would lead him to the trenches of World War I France, and the immortality of having his name inscribed on the Medal of Honor Roll.

A member of the 107th Infantry, he saw no action until Company D was absorbed into the 27th Division and sent overseas to fight in France. On September 29, 1918, his unit was suffering heavy casualties in its assault against the Hindenburg Line. Infuriated by the losses, he decided to volunteer to go forward and assault the enemy machine gun nest that was pinning them down, and in doing so, became the first soldier to break through the “unbreakable” Hindenburg Line. For his heroic actions, set forth below, he was cited for the Congressional Medal of Honor which was presented to him in Washington, D.C. by President Herbert Hoover in 1929.

1256839135 83a2Michael Valente was the only Italian-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I.

Before coming to Long Beach, he resided in Newark, New Jersey where he obtained a degree in electrical engineering and met his future wife Margharita Marchello. Settling, thereafter, in Long Beach, Mr. Valente, or “Mike” as he was affectionately referred to, was a fixture who lead the Memorial Day Parade, served on the Draft Board during World War II, was a realtor and building contractor, and City Marshall of the city that he loved. He was a very humble and quiet man that never seized upon his fame to advance his condition in life, a trait that surely garnered him the admiration of the community.

All these years after his death, he is still being remembered by his friends from Long Beach. In 1993, the then newly founded Sons of Italy in America lodge was named after him, as had a senior housing building operated by the City several years earlier.

A few years ago, September 29 was designated Michael Valente Day in the City of Long Beach, in perpetuity, by the Long Beach City Council; in 2011, the County of Nassau renamed the main bridge that connects Long Beach to the mainland as the Michael Valente Memorial Long Beach Bridge; and, in 2012, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce erected a new sign at the entrance to the city welcoming visitors to Long Beach and proclaiming it as the “Home of Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient: Michael A. Valente”.

The Citation:

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company D, 107th Infantry, 27th Division. Place and date: East of Ronssoy, France, 29 September 1918. Entered service at: Ogdensburg N.Y. Born: 5 February 1895, Cassino, Italy. G.O. No.: 16, W.D., I929.

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy during the operations against the Hindenburg line, east of Ronssoy, France, 29 September 1918. Finding the advance of his organization held up by a withering enemy machinegun fire, Pvt. Valente volunteered to go forward. With utter disregard of his own personal danger, accompanied by another soldier, Pvt. Valente rushed forward through an intense machinegun fire directly upon the enemy nest, killing 2 and capturing 5 of the enemy and silencing the gun. Discovering another machinegun nest close by which was pouring a deadly fire on the American forces, preventing their advance, Pvt. Valente and his companion charged upon this strong point, killing the gunner and putting this machinegun out of action. Without hesitation they jumped into the enemy's trench, killed 2 and captured 16 German soldiers. Pvt. Valente was later wounded and sent to the rear.

1299692521 ce37The Medal of Honor was presented to Michael Valente by President Herbert Hoover on the lawn of the White House on Sept. 27, 1929.