Eight in IM family fight for country


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – Back in the 1940s, plenty of families all over the United States contributed a son or daughter to the World War II effort.

Some families did more than their fair share.

The Lesandrini family of Iron Mountain saw not one, not two, but seven sons go away to fight in the war. An eighth son even fought in the Korean War.

Remarkably, all came home alive.

One of the sons, Domenic Lesandrini of Iron Mountain, fondly recalls his family’s story.

His parents were Domenic Sr. and Erminia. They had 12 children who survived infancy: sons Louis, Joseph, Lawrence, Clifford, Arthur, Robert, Domenic, and Donald, and daughters Celeste, Adeline, Evelyn, and Pat.

One by one, the seven oldest boys went off to World War II.

Louis served as a engineer in the Air Corps and went on to be involved in the occupation of Japan once the war was over.

Joseph entered the Army and was sent to the European front.

Lawrence also joined the Army in Europe, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Clifford served in the Coast Guard both in the United States and in the Pacific Ocean.

Arthur went into the Marines.

Robert joined the Army and became a military police officer responsible for protecting the president.

Domenic was only 17 years old when he decided to leave school and enlist in the Navy. At first, his parents were against the idea.

“My parents wouldn’t sign for me,” he explained. “It was really hard on Mom, having so many sons away.”

Eventually, they gave in because they knew how much it meant to Domenic.

“My older brothers were serving and it was just something I wanted to do,” he said.

Domenic joined the Navy in May 1944. He boarded the USS Williams, a destroyer escort, and traveled all over the Pacific Ocean.

Perhaps Domenic’s most vivid memory about his service was the time his ship encountered a raging typhoon between the Philippines and Okinawa.

“It was one of the worst typhoons in Pacific history at the time,” he said.

According to Domenic, a huge wave tipped the boat completely upside-down, washing all of the equipment overboard and shorting out all electricity.

“We were walking on the ceiling,” he added.

One man was lost overboard before the storm calmed.

Following the event, the Navy issued Domenic and his shipmates “Beam-Enders’ Association” membership cards, indicating that they survived a 90 degree-plus roll on a ship.

Domenic finished his service in May 1946, after the war had ended. He and his six older brothers all returned home uninjured.

Little brother Donald would later follow in his brothers’ footsteps by enlisting in the Navy during the Korean War. He also came home safe.

Of the 12 Lesandrini siblings, only Domenic, Donald, who lives near Boston, and Pat, who lives in Kingsford, are still alive.

However, the family’s legacy of service will live on.

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.