Private William Verderamo (1914–1944)

Medic killed in action during the invasion of Normandy
William Verderamo (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)
Home StateCivilian Occupation
DelawareGardener for Alfred I. du Pont
BranchService Number
U.S. Army32265692
TheatersUnit
Mediterranean, EuropeanMedical Detachment, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Bronze Star Medal, Purple HeartTunisia (presumed), Sicily, Normandy

Early Life & Family

Pellegrino Verderame was born at 613 Tatnall Street in Wilmington, Delaware on December 20, 1914.  He was the sixth of nine children born to Carmine (Carmen or Carmino in some sources, 1874 or 1875–1934) and Rose Marie (Rosa Maria or Rose in some sources, née Di Guglielmo, 1888–1965) Verderame.  His parents had immigrated from Italy and married in Delaware in 1903.  Carmine was working as a salesman when his son was born.  Pellegrino had four older sisters and an older brother, as well as a younger sister and two younger brothers.  An older sister and an older brother had died as children before Pellegrino’s birth. 

On December 17, 1919, Carmine and Rose purchased a home at 404 East Sixth Street in Wilmington and Pellegrino spent most of his childhood living there.  The family was recorded on the census on April 2, 1930 with Carmine now working as a laborer in a stone quarry.  Census records indicate that Pellegrino dropped out of school after completing 7th grade.

By 1934, Pellegrino had changed his name to William Verderamo.  His father died that same year.  Sometime in the four years that followed, the Verderamo family moved to 207 West 19th Street in Wilmington.  William Verderamo was working as a laborer by 1938.  At the time of the census on April 18, 1940, Verderamo was a gardener working on a private estate (probably Alfred I. du Pont’s Nemours).

When he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, Verderamo was described as standing five feet, four and half inches tall.  He weighed about 140 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes.  His employer was listed as Alfred I. du Pont on Blue Ball Road in Wilmington.  (Though Blue Ball Road is not an extant street name, A.I. du Pont built a well-known local landmark, Blue Ball Barn, on the grounds of his Nemours estate.  The barn, named after the long-gone Blue Ball Tavern, is now part of Alapocas State Park, located north of downtown Wilmington.)

Verderamo became engaged to Mary Margaret Bryner (1919–2008) around February 1940.  They married at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington on February 16, 1942.  His wife was working in a munitions factory at the time.  The couple honeymooned in New York and Verderamo moved into his wife’s family home at 524 East 4th Street in Wilmington. 


Military Career

Not long after his wedding, Verderamo was drafted.  He went on active duty with the U.S. Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey on April 16, 1942.  According to the Individual Military Service Record his wife submitted to the State of Delaware Public Archives Commission, Private Verderamo was stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, and Camp Pickett, Virginia prior to going overseas.  Camp Pickett was a Medical Replacement Training Center.  She wrote that “He went overseas I believe in December, 1942 as I received a Christmas card from aboard a ship”.  Verderamo apparently joined the Medical Detachment, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division in North Africa shortly thereafter (though I can only confirm that it was his unit as of June 1944).

Verderamo participated in combat in North Africa (most likely the Tunisian campaign) and Sicily before moving to the United Kingdom in preparation for the invasion of France.  The 16th Infantry Regiment arrived in England on November 5, 1943.  In February 1944, the men of the regiment attended amphibious training at the Assault Training Center, Braunton Camp, Devon.  In the months leading up to D-Day, the regiment participated in two amphibious exercises on March 11 and May 4, 1944.  The regiment shipped out from Weymouth early on June 5, 1944. 

Medical personnel preparing to ship out for the Normandy invasion (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo, National Archives)

The 16th Infantry Regiment led the 1st Infantry Division in the landings at the east end of Omaha Beach, taking devastating casualties in the process.  One document in Verderamo’s Individual Deceased Personnel File (I.D.P.F.) stated that Private Verderamo was assigned to Company “A,” 16th Infantry Regiment.  That implied that he was a medic attached to that company, scheduled to land 70 minutes into the invasion.  (In addition to medical personnel assigned to individual companies, there were battalion or aid stations on the beach.)

In his book The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach, John C. McManus wrote:

For every shivering and disoriented soldier, each instant presented a range of possibilities and choices, often centered around whether to move, to do something or to just lie still.  […]  It is fair to say that any act, especially those that required movement, took courage or resolve or discipline or perhaps just a sense of not caring anymore about what might happen next. In most instances, acts of cowardice and heroism (and there were many more of the latter) took place anonymously, undocumented by any observers or official records. This was especially true for medics, who circulated un-glamorously near the waterline, where the fire was heaviest, trying to save badly wounded men before the advancing tides engulfed them.

Medical personnel treating wounded at sector Fox Green on Omaha Beach (Signal Corps photograph from the National Archives via Naval History and Heritage Command)

Private Verderamo was killed early in the invasion, most likely on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.  (See notes section for discussion of documents which place his death the following day.)  Private Verderamo was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal, the latter per General Orders No. 41, Headquarters 1st U.S. Infantry Division, dated February 16, 1945.  The citation stated that the award was:

For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy in the vicinity of Colleville-Sur-Mer, Normandy, France, 6 June 1944.  Despite heavy artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire, Private Verderamo remained on open beach and, until mortally wounded, administered first aid and assisted in evacuating casualties.  Private Verderamo’s courage and self-sacrificing devotion to duty reflect great credit upon the Army Medical Department.

Colonel Randolph Russell and Major Arthur E. Flood presented the medal to Private Verderamo’s wife at a ceremony at the WDEL radio station Wilmington on June 8, 1945.

The Medical Detachment, 16th Infantry Regiment was awarded the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque for the unit’s collective actions from June 6 to August 6, 1944, during which the detachment treated an estimated 1,932 patients.  Nine members of the detachment including Private Verderamo were killed during that time, with an additional 43 wounded.

Private Verderamo was initially buried on June 9, 1944 at the U.S. Military Cemetery St. Laurent (Plot A, Row 1, Grave 3).  After the war, Verderamo’s wife was offered the option of repatriating his body or leaving it buried at a military cemetery overseas.  On April 9, 1947, she chose the latter.  On September 17, 1947, his body was disinterred and reburied soon after in a permanent grave at the same cemetery, now known as the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (Plot J, Row 11, Grave 13).

Verderamo’s widow Mary eventually remarried circa 1967 to Joseph V. Barry (1913– 2001).


Notes

Birth Address

The address where Verderamo was born is now referred to as 613 North Tatnall Street.

Recorded Name Variations

Verderamo was listed under the name Bulagre or Pulagre Verderamo on the 1930 census. 

Verderamo’s marriage certificate gave his full name as William Joseph Verderamo.  However, he served under the name William Verderamo, with no middle name given on his draft card or military records.

Discrepancies in Records Pertaining to His Military Career

There are limitations to family supplied information.  On the State of Delaware Individual Military Service Record, his widow stated that Verderamo participated in operations in “North Africa, invasion of Sicily, and Italy” as well as Normandy.  The 1st Infantry Division did not participate in the invasion of mainland Italy.  I suspect that this was a mistake by his widow, but since I don’t know the exact date that he joined the 16th Infantry Regiment, I can’t be certain.  The document also stated he was promoted to the grade of corporal.  If so, he was reduced back to the grade of private prior to his death.

Available records do not reveal Private Verderamo’s Military Occupational Specialty (M.O.S.).  For instance, he may have been a medical or surgical technician, medical aidman, or litter bearer.  Verderamo’s Bronze Star Medal citation stated that he landed near Colleville-sur-Mer, which was inland from the sector designated Fox Green, though Company “A” landed at the neighboring sector, Easy Red. 

Oddly, a list of Medical Detachment, 16th Infantry Regiment casualties included in the detachment history stated that Private 1st Class William R. Verderamo was killed in action on June 7, 1944.  The report of burial also gave his date of death as June 7, 1944, while the Adjutant General’s Office report of death listed his date of death as June 6, 1944.  Based on the text of his Bronze Star Citation, June 6 would appear to be accurate, but given the chaos surrounding the invasion, any of the documents involved could have errors.


Acknowledgments

Special thanks to the Delaware Public Archives for the use of their photo of Private Verderamo.

This piece is part of a series honoring fallen service members.  Additional tributes by the author can be viewed here.


Bibliography

“Awards for Soldiers Made to Relatives.”  Wilmington Morning News, June 9, 1945.  Pg. 2.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/74946228/verderamo-bsm/

“Citation for Bronze Star Medal––Posthumous.”  February 16, 1945. 

Declarations of Intention for Citizenship, 1817-1990.  Record Group 21, Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009.  The National Archives at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61336/images/47292_302022005448_2037-00064

Delaware Birth Records.  Bureau of Vital Statistics, Hall of Records, Dover, Delaware.  https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/40740565/person/28084556761/media/89ce682d-ff4c-4fba-a702-da762f6cc81f

Delaware Land Records.  Delaware Public Archives.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61025/images/31303_256946-00018, https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61025/images/31303_256946-00019

Delaware Marriages. Bureau of Vital Statistics, Hall of Records, Dover, Delaware. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1673/images/31297_212370-00228, https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61368/images/TH-266-12312-34906-96    

“Engagements.”  Wilmington Morning News, February 29, 1942.  Pg. 8.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/72385464/william-verderamo-engagement/

“General Orders No. 41, Headquarters 1st U.S. Infantry Division” dated February 16, 1945.  First Division Museum website.  https://firstdivisionmuseum.nmtvault.com/jsp/PsImageViewer.jsp?doc_id=5d51b39f-52d3-4177-b65e-30b812011812%2Fiwfd0000%2F20151125%2F00000011&pg_seq=739

Goldberg, Herbert.  “History Medical Detachment 16th Infantry 1st US Infantry Division United States Army November 1940 to May 1945.”  Dated July 14, 1945.  First Division Museum website.  https://firstdivisionmuseum.nmtvault.com/jsp/PsImageViewer.jsp?doc_id=5d51b39f-52d3-4177-b65e-30b812011812%2Fiwfd0000%2F20141124%2F00000420

Headstone Inscription and Interment Records for U.S. Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil, 1942–1949.  Record Group 117, Records of the American Battle Monuments Commission, 1918–ca. 1995.  The National Archives at Washington, D.C.    https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9170/images/42861_646933_0809-01045

Individual Deceased Personnel File for William Verderamo.  National Archives.

“Joseph V. Barry.”  The News Journal, May 14, 2001. Pg. B4.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/72388251/joseph-v-barry/

“Mary V. Barry.”  The News Journal, December 10, 2008. Pg. B4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/72386656/william-verderamo-widow-obituary/

“Miss Mary Bryner Mr. William Verderamo.”  Wilmington Morning News, February 19, 1942.  Pg. 8.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/72385258/william-verderamo-wedding/

Polk’s Wilmington (New Castle County, Del.) City Directory 1938.  R. L. Polk & Company Publishers, 1938.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16150194

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.  National Archives and Records Administration at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4531892_00682

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940.  National Archives and Records Administration at Washington, D.C.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2442/images/m-t0627-00551-00611

Verderamo, Mary.  William Verderamo Individual Military Service Record and related correspondence, circa 1946.  Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware.  https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/17627/rec/1  

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland.  https://www.fold3.com/record/86128732/william-verderamo-wwii-army-enlistment-records

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Delaware, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947.  Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System.  The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44003_05_00009-01561


Last updated on May 23, 2021

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