Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Louis C. Graziano, who was part of the third wave of landings in Normandy during World War II.
Luciano “Louis” C. Graziano was born in 1923 to Italian immigrants in East Aurora, New York. He was one of five children and attended Catholic school until eighth grade when he dropped out in order to support his family. Graziano worked with his father as a mason for a year until he enrolled in Buffalo School of Beauty and Culture. He graduated in 1939 and worked in his sister’s beauty parlor as a hairstylist until the Army drafted him in January 1943.
Graziano completed his military training at multiple bases across the country, starting in Fort Niagara and finishing in Fort Dix. He deployed to England, where he led a group of 35 soldiers working in facility operations. Graziano was then part of the third wave of the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach. He drove a gasoline truck onto the beach and scaled a cliff armed with a flame thrower and gun while dodging German fire. After he maneuvered his way to the other side of the beach, he signaled the Navy, who took out German groups of shooters.
Six months after D-Day, Graziano fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Graziano and his captain went to find General Patton’s troops who were needed in Bastogne, but got lost. They located the soldiers, but Graziano suffered from severe frostbite in both of his feet and went to the infirmary where he nearly lost them.
Graziano went to France, where he became utilities foreman in the 102nd Infantry Field Artillery Battalion, Special Headquarters Command in Reims. As foreman, he was in charge of all American occupied buildings in Reims, including the Little Red Schoolhouse where the British, French, Russians and Germans signed surrender documents. Graziano was in the room and took the Germans up to then=General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s office. Graziano is believed to be the last living witness of the signing of the German World War II surrender.
After the surrender, Graziano was in France waiting for discharge when he met Women’s Army Corps Staff Sergeant Eula “Bobbie” Shaneyfelt. They married in a Reims courthouse in October 1945. In 1946, Graziano completed his military service with the rank of master sergeant and returned to New York with Bobbie. The pair had five children and eventually moved to Atlanta. They later moved to Thomson, Georgia, where Graziano opened his own hair parlor, Louis Harry Stylings in 1971. Graziano and Bobbie were married for 62 years until she passed away in 2007.
Graziano received a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal. The White House honored him in 2019 when he wrote a memoir, “A Patriots Memoirs of World War Two.” He currently resides in Thomson, and periodically works in his salon, which his daughter now runs.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.