2015 Honored Veterans

James Caporizo

U.S. Army

A Stamford native, Jim is originally from the Waterside section of the city. Upon graduation from Westhill High School in 1973, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. After completing Basic Combat Training, Jim received Advanced Individual Training at the Army Field Artillery School at Ft Sill, Oklahoma, and was selected to attend Officer Candidate School. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1975 and assigned to the 192nd Field Artillery, the same unit with which his father had once served and one that has historic ties to Stamford dating back to 1642.

During the following years, Jim progressed through a variety of command and staff assignments across the state where his leadership and expertise were further developed. In 1997, then Lieutenant Colonel Caporizo returned to the 192nd Field Artillery as the Battalion Commander, responsible for all facets of training and operations of a combat arms organization and the 400 personnel assigned to its ranks. Jim went on to serve on the staff of the Adjutant General of Connecticut and was promoted to Colonel in 2001. His final active assignment was as Brigade Commander of the Regional Training Institute. There he oversaw and participated in the creation of several professional education and leadership development programs at the state, regional and national levels.

On his retirement in 2005, Jim was appointed as a Brigadier General in the Connecticut State Guard Reserve by Governor Rell. He is a recipient of the U. S. Legion of Merit and the Connecticut Medal of Merit. He holds a BA in Political Science and is a graduate of the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College.

As Jim and his wife, Sheila, raised their three children — Christopher, Jamie and Lauren — Jim began volunteering to support their activities in JROTC, band and theater, and has become known in the Stamford school system and local theater groups for his efforts.

Anthony DiGiacomo

U.S. Marine Corp

Born and raised on Stamford’s West Side, Anthony DiGiacomo attended Stevens Elementary School, the original Cloonan Junior High school and Stamford High School.

In May 1963, at the age of 17, Anthony joined the Marine Corps, and he served overseas in Vietnam from 1964 through 1966, where he was a machine gunner and later became a squad leader. While in Vietnam, he served in the areas of Chu Lai, Danang and Quang Tri near the Demilitarized Zone and was engaged in Operations Starlite, Harvest Moon and Hastings as well as the Battle of Chu Lai. Anthony is a decorated combat veteran, having received six citations and one with three bronze stars. At the end of his service, Anthony was a rifle and pistol instructor at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. When he was discharged from the Corps in 1967, Anthony had reached the rank of Sargent E-5.

On his return to Stamford, Anthony was given the opportunity by Al Sanseverino to learn the electrical trade at Camsan Electric, and over the years, because of his good fortune, he in turn has had the opportunity to train many other young men, enabling them to have a career as well. In 1968, Anthony married his wife, Diane, and they raised their two children, Anthony Jr. and Lisa, in Stamford. Diane and Anthony are the proud grandparents of Grace, Ava and Alexander.

In 2013, Anthony was honored by the Knights of Columbus for being a decorated combat veteran, and has been involved with UNICO National, the largest American Italian service organization in the States, and the Gravinese Mutual Aid Society, a community service organization founded to assist Italian immigrants in Stamford.

James L. Mazurek

U.S. Army

Growing up in Stamford Jim Mazurek was passionate about sports, playing in Little League regional playoffs and Babe Ruth League World Series. While at Stamford High, Jim attained All-State Football honors as a junior and senior. The 1960 graduate attended Syracuse University on a football scholarship, was co-captain his senior year and selected to the senior men’s honorary fraternity, Phi Kappa Alpha, in recognition of his leadership at the university. While at Syracuse, Jim joined the Army ROTC program and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Although selected in the NFL draft he did not play and entered the Army in 1965.

After receiving his Transportation Officers Basic Training at Ft. Eustis, Virginia, Jim deployed to the Republic of Korea, assigned to the 21st Transportation Company serving the United Nations Command and the 8th U.S. Army Command. And no surprise, he also played on the ESCOM football team making All Korea Honors. On learning of the United States’ involvement in Vietnam, Jim forwent current orders and volunteered for transfer to Vietnam, where he served with the 58th Transportation Company and then the 597th as a platoon leader. He later served as Commanding Officer for a provisional company testing all-terrain vehicles in a combat zone, working with Caterpillar Tractor to develop the official Table of Organization and Equipment for the first official Goer unit. Jim’s last assignment was Company Commander to the 61st Transportation Company, which delivered fuel to military sites in the Central Highlands.

After coming home to Stamford, Jim returned to Korea to marry, Jae Sun, a fashion model whom he had met while serving there. He worked at Clairol in Stamford for 35 years in Manufacturing and then another three years for Plaza Realty. Jim and Jae Sun have two children, James Jr. and Alicia.

Dominic Santagata

U.S. Army

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 buildings 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 of 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.

Lillian R. Walla

U.S. Army Nurse Corps

Lillian Walla grew up on Long Island, attended Westbury High and graduated from nursing school at St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn. She began her nursing career at the Marine Hospital on Staten Island, and in 1944 joined the Army Nurses Corps, completing her basic training in Atlantic City as a 2nd Lieutenant. In late 1944, Lillian shipped overseas to serve at the 235th General Hospital in Marseille, France, receiving wounded and sick personnel as well as enlisted German prisoners of war who were coming in from field hospitals to the safe zone. Lillian returned to the States in 1946.

Albert Walla grew up on a 160-acre farm, in rural Clarkson, Nebraska, population 100. After graduating from Clarkson High and while attending the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, studying mechanical engineering, he was called to active duty. Al received his officer’s training at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, and was a 1st Lieutenant when he went overseas in 1944 to serve in southern France at the Delta Base Command with the 1324th Engineer General Service Regiment. In 1945 he served another 18 months in Okinawa and the Philippines, returning to the States in late 1946.

Lillian and Al met in January 1945 at a USO dance in Marseille, married on Long Island two years later, and returned to Nebraska where Al completed his degree and Lillian worked in the nursery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. From Nebraska, the Wallas moved to Delaware, where Al worked at DuPont as an engineer and Lillian at Wilmington General in its premature nursery.

They moved to Stamford in 1968 where Al worked for Chemico and then General Electric. Over their nearly 50 years in Stamford, the Wallas raised five children – Rosemary, Janice, Albert Jr., Nancy and John and have seven grandchildren and three great grands – and have been active in our community with a variety of groups, particularly with Red Cross Blood Drives.