OBITUARY

Saverio Alexander Manzi

April 26, 1925April 10, 2019
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On April 10, 2019 Sam passed away from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Sam is survived by his loving wife Ida of 63 years. Formerly living in New Hyde Park, NY for over 60 years. He is loved by his sons David (Mary) of Gulf Breeze, Florida and Mark (Maria) of Gold Canyon, Arizona. His 4 grandchildren David Manzi, Michelle Noa, Gregory Manzi and Laura Smith, their spouses and 5 great- grandchildren, Wyland, Mackenzie, Julia, Trevor and Raymond.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for contributions to be shared by the staff who cared for him at his residence. Checks payable to Brookdale East Mesa and sent to the attention of Melinda Hull, Brookdale East Mesa. 6145 East Arbor Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85206. Please indicate Employee Holiday Fund in memory of Sam Manzi.

Services

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Funeral Service Tuesday, April 16, 2019

OTHER SERVICES:

  • Interment
REMEMBERING

Saverio Alexander Manzi

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Carmelina Hickey

April 15, 2019

I’ll always remember Sam as a true gentleman, ready to share a smile and a joke! Much love to all of you 💕

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Biography

Saverio Alexander Manzi was born on April 26, 1925, one of seven children, the only boy, to an immigrant Italian family located in Detroit Michigan. Named after his father’s father – Saverio and his father’s brother – Alexander, both of whom passed untimely in a tenement house fire in Pennsylvania. Despite his name sake and legacy, he preferred to go by “Sam”.
His father, Elio, a Ford Motor Company laborer, was ecstatic when his only son was born, although he loved being surrounded by “all his girls”. His mother, Caroline, as he recalls, was the disciplinarian of the family but a loving woman with a great sense of humor. He remembers one time, as punishment for straying from home without permission and not coming home timely, his mother made him wear one of his sister’s dresses and placed him on the front porch. He did not stray again.
He had an enjoyable childhood despite growing up poor during the depression era. He enjoyed playing sports, in particular baseball. He did not complete high school, instead held a number of odd jobs. He excelled in baseball and was in the Detroit Tiger’s system, as a centerfielder, when this opportunity was interrupted with his draft into the US Army on August 18, 1943.
He joined an Ohio army unit known as the 83rd Thunderbolts, which was an infantry division, as a Private First Class Rifleman. He was trained as a Browning Automatic Rifleman which required a gunner assistant to carry extra ammunition and the rifle’s tripod. Sam often kids that the gun weighed more then he did. The unit received its basic training in Mississippi and then they were shipped out to England while they waited the planning of the Allies European invasion. The unit was scheduled to participate in D-Day, however, due to poor weather the unit waited in the English Channel for 3 days and ultimately landed as re-enforcements. Due to rough sea conditions many of the men were sea sick and although facing grave danger, were happy to be on land.
His unit fought throughout Belgium and France initially. Sam was wounded in France while running across an open farm field where he and his gunner assistant experienced tank fire. A shell hit in front of them spreading shrapnel which hit him in his upper left leg. His gunner assistant, understandably frightened, left him in the field. Fortunately, French civilians were taking shelter from the German attack in a nearby trench and witnessed what had happened. A Frenchman came from the trench, threw Sam on his back and brought him to safety in the trench. Sam realized his wound was serious so he tended to it by making a tourniquet from his belt. The Frenchman went and got a medic for him. When he tells this story to his two sons he jokes; “had he been hit 2 inches in further there would be no kids.”
He was shipped back to England where they performed surgery and he recovered in a hospital. He thought for sure that his wound was his ticket home. However, the Germans were planning a major offensive that they hoped would shift the momentum of the war back to their favor. This would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. As his luck would have it, he returned to his unit, or what was left of it. Many of the men he had known had been killed including his gunner assistant (by “friendly fire”). Ultimately 19 men survived out of 210, mostly kitchen and support positions, and but a few were not wounded.
During this time he was surrounded by new recruits. One evening he and two other “green” guys were in a fox hole. They were deciding who was going to go out and get them some food. They argued and Sam finally caved in. Shortly after his stroll for food the fox hole was hit by artillery killing the two unfortunate occupants. His unit was pressed into action as the Allies learned of the German’s plan. Sam, along with several others at one point was cut off from the rest of the unit. They were forced to hide in basements and barns, surviving primarily on raw potatoes, and the cooperation of civilians hiding them from the Germans as they advanced. Ultimately the Allies pushed back the Germans and they rejoined their unit and the fight. During his 27 months of service he was engaged in the following major battles; Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe and the Battle of the bulge.
At the end of the European War, Sam’s unit was part of the occupancy forces although there were rumors they may have been shipped out to help in the Pacific Theater. It is during this time that he was able to enjoy playing softball and winning a competitive championship while he waited to return home. When he was sent home to Detroit, the train station was filled with returning soldiers and family friends everywhere; “a mob scene”. He spotted his dad across the platform and asked a “friend” to watch his duffle bag while he went to get his dad. When he returned to that spot, his stuff and the “friend” were gone. He never recovered his belongings, including his original medals.
At 90 years old, he still does not like to talk in detail about his experience. When asked, he will give you a few stories, which I memorialized above, and then concludes with two themes; “Wars are senseless and stupid”, and; “I survived because I was the fastest runner.”
But we all know better and appreciate his bravery and preservation of our liberty and freedom we enjoy today. His modesty is over shadowed by the medals he was awarded: EAME Theater Ribbon with For Bronze Stars; Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart Metal, Bronze Star Metal and Victory Medal World War II.
Thank you Dad.