Achille Michael Maggio, a retired mail carrier who was honored for heroism during World War II, died of heart failure Monday in his Sound Beach home, his family said. He was 94.
“He was extremely proud of his service,” Charles Maggio said of his father’s military record and tenure with the U.S. Postal Service.
During the war, Achille Maggio was a sergeant in the Army’s 90th Infantry Division in campaigns in the Ardennes, Central Europe and the Rhineland, and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Though Maggio spoke about a deadly mortar attack during the Battle of the Bulge that left shrapnel in his arm permanently, his son said his father’s grenade attack on a German machine-gun nest that had been cutting down American soldiers was something the veteran kept quiet about for more than 50 years.
The son said his father would simply say of his medal, “Yeah, I earned that.”
“He got the Purple Heart by being wounded,” Charles Maggio said. “Pain and suffering and serving his country to him was something to be proud of — more so than the fact of creating pain and suffering for anyone else, which was required for him to earn the Bronze Star.”
The son of Italian immigrants, Maggio was born in Brooklyn and grew up with two brothers and six sisters.
He enlisted in the Army after high school, and when he returned from the war, he met Elizabeth, the woman with whom he celebrated a 70th wedding anniversary earlier this year. They met on a double date and even though she wasn’t his date, “they kind of hit it off,” the son said.
They married, had their son and moved to East Meadow, where Maggio was a mail carrier for 31 years.
He also worked as an usher at Roosevelt Raceway, a horse racing track that used to be in Westbury, his son said.
“He did what he had to do,” Charles Maggio said. “He needed the two jobs to support his family.”
He loved baseball — both playing with his son and watching the Yankees. He also volunteered at his Catholic church in East Meadow. He and Elizabeth liked to travel — in the United States and in Europe, sometimes taking spontaneous road trips up to Maine when the urge for a lobster struck.
About 20 years ago, after he retired, the couple moved to Sound Beach and lived next door to their son and his family.
A nephew, Frank Vitulli, of Jacksonville, Florida, said Maggio taught him “always to be my own man.”
“You don’t live for anybody else’s expectations. You live for your own, and above all, duty to your family comes first,” Vitulli said Maggio told him.
In addition to his wife and son, Maggio is survived by his daughter-in-law Marie; sister Connie LaRocco of Brooklyn; and two grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Louis de Montfort Roman Catholic Church at 75 New York Ave. in Sound Beach followed by burial at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.