Descendants of Italian WWI veteran span five generations at reunion

Posted

Michael Tudino led an adventurous life that took him from the small Italian town of Sant'Ambrogio sul Garigliano to the jungles of Brazil, the textile factories of Industrial New England and the front lines of World War 1.

On July 13, during a warm summer weekend in Warwick, roots that the man probably never imagined to have planted culminated in a family reunion that spanned five generations and included as many as 70 members of the family that came to be because of Tudino’s marriage to Teresa Bianco.

The story of Tudino’s life is an interesting one that starts on December 30, 1895 in the small aforementioned Italian village. “A strong man with an adventurous spirit,” as a family-written biography chronicling his life (provided by family member Tina Joyce) states, Tudino left with his father as a teenager (just 15 or 16) to Brazil to find work to support their struggling family.

“Oh, they found work alright,” the biography describes. “It was in the steamy, dangerous jungle of Brazil, chopping and clearing trees and underbrush, to make way for the railroad.”

After a while of this, Tudino returned home to Italy before immigrating to the United States, alone, still as just a teenager. He settled in Lawrence, Mass., where he had some cousins in the area, and began working in a textile mill. Lawrence was an industrial power during this era in New England, with cheap labor needed sorely, so it was a likely place for an Italian immigrant to wind up.

But then duty to his country called during World War 1. He returned to fight for his country and served as a machine gunner after braving the hostile waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. He would become wounded in combat and spent time in a military hospital, which earned him his first medal. He then returned to the front where he earned another award for valor after blowing up enemy barbwire.

Tudino was then captured during a battle on the Austrian front, but managed to escape with a few other men. Alas, he was recaptured shortly afterward and spent months as a prisoner of war, where “he was forced to endure more pain and horror because the German guards knew that he had escaped once.”

But the war ended and Tudino was set free, after three years of service in the war and as a prisoner. He went briefly back to Italy to be with his parents and then, once more, returned to the United States. He made his way to Federal Hill in Providence and got more mill work, this time in Olneyville. It was during this period he met his future bride, Teresa Bianco, and the two were wed in 1926. They settled in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Providence, and Tudino earned his citizenship in 1932.

The loving couple had seven sons – Lucien, Anthony, Edward, Henry, Michael, John and Vincent – of which only Anthony has survived to the modern day. They worked through the thick of the depression and ultimately, Tudino passed away at the age of 75 in March of 1971. However, shortly before Tudino passed, he was officially knighted by the Italian government in recognition for his valor in the First World War.

Today, the patriarch of a large and loving family remember him through the writings of others and through photographs, but his legacy is felt in the gathering of so many people who owe their very lives to his own.

“In his lifetime, although he had been adventurous and a war hero, Mike Tudino was a caring and generous kind of person,” the biography passage reads. “He was ready to help people in whatever way he could. Understandably, he was very well liked in his community. At his funeral, Romano Funeral Home, Peter Romano Jr. told Tony Tudino that this was probably one of the biggest funerals that he had ever seen.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment