Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Salvatore (Sam) Palermo. Sam served during World War II.
The son of Italian immigrants, Sam was born and raised in Melrose Park, Illinois and worked as an apprentice tool and die maker. In June 1943, Sam was drafted into the Navy and underwent basic training at the Farragut Naval Training Station in Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho.
After completing basic training, he was assigned as a machinist and received six months of education in marine engineering at the University of South Dakota. Following his training, Sam was sent to Norfolk, Virginia and assigned to the destroyer-escort USS Dennis. There, he was responsible for maintaining the engine.
Following one month of training in Bermuda, Sam and his crew were assigned to the Pacific. Upon arrival, Sam and the USS Dennis fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, where U.S. and Australian Naval forces hoped to cut off the Japanese fleet from Southeast Asia.
During the battle, the USS Dennis participated in the defense of the Sirgao Striate. After being engaged by the Japanese fleet, the USS Dennis was struck five times by Japanese shells. Despite this, the USS Dennis was not seriously damaged and managed to return fire, sinking one Japanese cruiser.
Following the battle at Siargao Striate, Sam and the USS Dennis were tasked with rescuing survivors from the five U.S. ships which had been sunk during the battle. The USS Dennis ultimately rescued 434 men.
From the Siargao Striate, Sam and the USS Dennis returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs. After receiving repairs at Pearl Harbor, the USS Dennis was sent to join the invasion of Iwo Jima. There, Sam and his crew spent twenty-seven consecutive days shelling Iwo Jima. After Iwo Jima, the USS Dennis engaged in the assault on Okinawa, where they again provided fire support.
After Okinawa, Sam was assigned to the USS Dorothea Dix troop transport where he assisted in bringing troops stationed in the Philippines back to the U.S. following Japan’s surrender.
Sam was discharged in Dec. 1945 as a machinist’s mate third class. Upon returning home, he went back to work as an apprentice toolmaker. For actions during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Sam earned a Philippine Liberation Medal and a Presidential Unit Citation.
Thank you for your service, Sam!
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic by. Emma is a sophomore at Baylor University and is studying Political Science with a French minor and Pre-Law concentration.