“The guy is a legend out here.”
Thus wrote a serviceman, known only as “Johnny,” in telling his sister in Attleboro about Pfc. Peter Santoro, a 4th Division Marine from Norwood, whom he met on an LST in the Pacific.
The son of Mr. Pasquale Santoro of 960 State Highway, Pfc. Santoro is known as “the most shot at” Marine on Manhali Island. A dispatch from the Pacific written some time ago by a Marine Combat Correspondent and published in the Messenger, mentioned how the Norwood Marine had established a reputation for coming through perilous combat missions unscathed. But the whole story appears in the letter that follows.
A former amateur boxing champion who later turned pro, Pfc. Santoro has also won a wide reputation among the Marines for his fistic prowess and has also organized boxing teams among the Leathernecks.
But the point of “Johnny’s” letter to his sister was the matter of a “pass” to the Norwood roller skating rink, Roll-Land, which Pfc. Santoro and his three brothers own. From his conversations with “Johnny,” Peter learned that his buddy’s sister liked to roller skate, and so forwarded a note that would serve as an “Annie Oakley” to the local rink.
“Johnny’s” letter to his sister follows:
“The accompanying note was written by a big Marine who is quite a guy out here. I met him aboard our ship tonight and right now he is down sleeping in my extra bunk on the LST. His name is Pete Santoro of Norwood, Mass.
Pa may remember him from his boxing light heavyweight amateur boxing champ in 1938 or his pro bouts in the Boston Arena and Boston Garden.
‘He and his three brothers own that big roller skating rink with the bowling alleys downstairs on Route 1 in Norwood. I told him that you and Ady had done a lot of roller skating and that possibly you had been out there. Then he and I cooked up the idea of sending you a ‘pass’ to his roller rink from way out here in the Pacific and here it is.
“This guy had the reputation of being ‘the most shot at’ Marine on Manhaii Islands this year and he is a one-man army in himself. When he and his partner were leading an advance patrol, some (Japanese) in a blockhouse were holding up the advance with a machine gun. While he and his partner were covering each other in their advance, his partner was killed in a foxhole by the machine gun fire. This left Pete in a hole — nobody to cover him while he reloaded and little leaden messengers singing all around him. He took 4 or 5 demolition chargers, tied them together with some sort of quick-acting fuse and heaved the bunch at the blockhouse, blew the door down, and sent at least six Sons of Heaven to join their honorable ancestors. Then he scooted back about 30 yards to where the rest of his company was waiting for him. This was when the bullets were really flying around him, two or three through his pant legs, one through his canteen but none through Pete. The elimination of the blockhouse enabled his company to advance and saved a lot of lives. The guy is a legend out here.
“When you get through reading this, stick it in another envelope and mail it to his brother, John Santoro, % Roll-Land. Pete himself couldn’t write it home and you have a pass to the roller skating rink.
“Your everloving brother,
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