Dan Santagata’s family moved to Stamford from Long Island in 1926 when he was two years old. The eldest of eight, he describes his childhood as one of school, family holidays and carefree days growing up in a tight-knit community that had a strong love for America. In late 1942 after World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Army rather than waiting to be drafted to ensure he served in the military branch of his choice.
After processing in, Dan began training as a Combat Engineer at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, and was stationed at Camp Shanks, New York, to wait assignment overseas. He initially shipped to Northern Ireland where he was assigned to the 5th Infantry Division and further trained for all kinds of warfare, taking part in bridge building, laying mine fields, handling explosives and constructing barbed wire fences. Over the next three years, Dan’s division fought in five major campaigns in Normandy, northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes in the Battle of the Bulge and in Central Europe under General George Patton.
When he returned to Stamford Dan trained in the construction field and worked throughout New York and Connecticut on commercial building for the next 50 years. During that time Dan never spoke about his was military experiences until he attended a 7th Engineer, 5th Infantry reunion where he reunited with his buddies. From there he joined the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge Organization and subsequently was awarded the Chevalier if the Legion of Honor by the French government and presented with the insignia of the Legion at a ceremony on May 8, 2012, at West Point.
He married and raised two children in Stamford– Joanne and Daniel – and now has seven grandchildren and three great grands. It is with pride that the Selection Committee honors Dominick Santagata.