Priola, Pete P. (771st)

Peter P. Priola 1Pete P. Priola

Biography:  Pietro Paul Priola, “Pete” was born on January 23, 1919, in Boiano, Italy.  He was the son of Carmen Priola and Maria DiBiase.  He emmigrated to the U.S, receiving his Visa on March 26, 1930, from the American Consulate in Naples, Italy.  After arriving in the U.S., Pete and his family made their home in Cleveland, Ohio, and Pete continued his education at Fairmount Junior High School.  He left school in 1937 after he had completed the 10th grade.

Pete found work as a hotel bartender but also drove a truck, hauling equipment for Grano Contractors of South Euclid, Ohio.  On May 9, 1942, he married the former Josephine Grano, who was born in Cleveland and was the daughter of James Grano and Mary Ramacciato. The couple made their home in Cleveland.

Service Time:  Pete entered the service on August 13, 1942. He was initially transferred into the Enlisted Reserve Corps and sent home. He and the other men that entered service from the area, on that day, were then called to active service on the 27th of the same month. They were to proceed to the Reception Center at Camp Perry, Port Clinton, Ohio, to await their assignments.

Transfer to Active Service

Pete was ultimately assigned to Headquarters Company of the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion, serving as a cook.  During his training, he qualified with the .45 cal pistol, Thompson sub-machine gun and M1 Carbine.

He shipped out with the unit on October 21, 1943, arriving in England on November 2.  It was late September before they shipped to France with their M10’s, entering combat with the 102nd Infantry Division against the Siegfried Line on November 3.  The enemy defenses were along the Würm River.  They then participated in the drive to the Roer River and held defensive positions there during December.  In January of 1945, the 771st converted to the M36 and supported the drive toward the Rhine River in February.  They started crossing the Rhine on March 31 and joined the 102nd’s drive across Germany to the Elbe River, arriving on April 14.  The unit spent the remainder of the war cleaning up pockets of resistance between the Rhine and the Elbe.

In December of 1944, Pete stayed with the J.W. Knots family while he was stationed in Heerlen, Holland.  After the war, the Knots family sent Pete a wooden shoe with a note which read, “Don’t forget the family where you had your Christmas 1944”.

Pete received credit for each of the unit’s campaigns of the Rhineland and Central Europe. He received the EAME Medal, the WWII Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He left the service on December 6, 1945, at the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation.  He had reached the rank of Technician 5th Grade.

Honorary Discharge

Peter P.Priola 2Pete returned to Cleveland and to Josephine.  The couple had two children, Peter born in 1946 and Joanne in 1948.  He worked as a mason and bricklayer but in his spare time he enjoyed playing golf, gardening and making wine.  He was a member of the Club 20 and I.A.G.A. Golf Clubs. He also kept his bartending skills sharp on weekends when he was able to use them at the Villa Di Borally Party Center. 

Pete passed away on August 21, 1980, and was buried in the All Souls, Cemetery in Chardon, Ohio.  I want to thank Pete’s daughter, Joanne, for providing the materials and information for this tribute.