James V. Christiano
Biography: James "Jim" Vincent Christiano was born on September 7, 1916, in Waterbury, Conneticut. He was the son of Constantino Cristinziano (changed to Christiano) and Bambina Lanese and attended Webster Grammar School. He later went to work as a milling machine operator with the Seth Thomas Clocks Company of Thomaston, CT.
Service Time: He entered the service (Waterbury American Article) on Feb. 19, 1942, at Ft. Devens, Maryland, but recieved his early training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, where he was assigned to Company D, 23rd Infantry Battalion (Group photo). Jim can be seen in the first standing row from the front, 14th from the left. He later traveled to Camp Cooke, California and Camp Hood, Texas, becoming part of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Sometime later he transfered to Company C, 603rd Tank Destroyer Battalion where he remained until the end of the war. He and the unit traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana, Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and then Camp Maxey, TX, for training before moving to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, for final preparations before shipping from the New York Port to England in April of 1944. During those many months in the U.S. and while in Europe, Jim wrote a number of letters to his family and particularly his sister, Lillian:
a.) Letter to Parents - Post marked Apr. 7, 1942 from Ft. McClellan, AL.
b.) Letter to Sarah - Post marked Jan. 18, 1943 from Camp Hood, TX.
c.) Letter to Lillian - Post marked Jan. 11, 1944 from Camp Hood, TX.
d.) Letter to Lillian - No markings, from Camp Hood, TX.
e.) Letter to Lillian - Post marked Jan. 20, 1945 from Belgium (with 3rd Army).
f.) Letter to Lillian - Post marked Feb. 8, 1945 from somewhere in Europe (with 3rd Army).
Jim received credit for each of the 603rd's 5 campaigns, which included the Battle of the Bulge. He also partiicipated in the liberation of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. He received a Bronze Star (Article 1 and Article 2) for Heroic Achievement for actions in Bad Klosterlausnitz, near Jena, Germany. Sometime prior to shipping home, Jim was transferred to Company C of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, as identified on his Discharge Papers. He reached the rank of Sergeant before leaving the service in October of 1945.
When he returned to civilian life, he went to work at one of Waterbury's Brass manufacturers, but in his spare time he loved spending with his family and friends. One of his favorite meeting spots was Polletto's on North Main Street. He also enjoyed playing cards, bocce, scrap-booking, going to Jai-Alai in Milford and watching his favorite team, the Red Sox. He was also a member of the Disabled American Veterans Commanders Club, where he was recognized for his devotion and generosity.
Jim passed away on June 26, 2006, and was buried at the Calvary Cemetery in Waterbury, CT.
I want to thank Jim's great-nephew, Anthony Richard (Lillian's grandson), for providing this information and the materials on the 603rd. The following photo shows Jim while he was at the Ft. Devens induction center.
Jim with his trade-mark smile.
Jim posing with his M18 Tank Destroyer in 1944 while the 603rd was attached to the 6th Armored Division (the Super Sixth) under the Third Army in Germany.
German Flag and Luger brought home as memorabilia.
Plaque made up in Honor of Jim by his great-nephew Anthony.