On Saturday, May 31, 2014, the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese American Archives will be hosting a program honoring WWII Portuguese-American veterans.
The event consists of an exhibit and short presentations featuring the stories of three servicemen who risked their lives for the freedom of the land their parents had immigrated to and will take place at 2:00 PM in the Archives’ Prince Henry Society Reading Room, located in the mezzanine floor of the Claire T. Carney Library (Parking Lot 13). Refreshments will be served.
Hailing from all three branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, these three men represent a variety of military experience, ranks and careers, but are united by their common Portuguese ancestry, their bravery and merit, and their love of the United States of America.
One of them will tell his own story. His name is George Mendonsa and he is 91 years old. He grew up on a tiny island off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island, fishing for scup and mackerel with his Madeiran father, brothers, and other Portuguese fishermen. The skills he learned in that enterprise allowed him to enter the U.S. Navy at the rank of quartermaster. He served in the Pacific theater aboard the USS The Sullivans, saving lives and fighting the enemy, but he is best known for something that happened on Times Square at the end of the war. He is known worldwide as The Kissing Sailor.
The two others are no longer among us. Their stories will be told by loving relatives that heard them during family reunions and carefully collected information and mementos of their careers.
Alice Casanova, will do a presentation about her father, Master Sergeant Antonio Casanova from Cambridge, Massachusetts, who served in the U.S. Air Force and, as a prisoner of war, was one of the few that survived the infamous Bataan Death March.
Brigadier General Arthur S. Moura was a decorated Army officer who specialized in US-Latin American relations. He enjoyed a very long and successful military career, which included nine special assignments at the White House under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. He was born in Taunton, Massachusetts and is buried at Arlington Cemetery. His niece Jeanne Dennis will share some details of his life history with us.