New collection recalls the life of fallen WW2 sailor

May 18, 2022
Gravesite for Michael Addorisio
Photo of fallen sailor Michael Addorisio
Michael Vincent Addorisio

The life and death of a decorated World War II sailor from Fitchburg comes into vivid focus through a new online collection and exhibit opening in June at the Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library at Fitchburg State University.

The Michael Vincent Addorisio (Addorizzi) Family Collection, curated by the fallen sailor’s niece, Rose Anne Addorisio, is preserved in the library archives through a collaboration with the university’s Center for Italian Culture (CIC). Ms. Addorisio is a member of the CIC’s board.

The collection includes 93 letters, postcards, and medals, depicting a military life that was tragically cut short while serving on the USS Reid during World War II. His letters describe his travels across the United States by train to his first duty station and his journey across the world by sea. Routines of a sailor's life and a firsthand account of Pearl Harbor are included. His medals, letters and that fateful Western Union Telegram bring Michael's story to life.

The online collection may be viewed at

The collection will launch at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 1 in Presidents’ Hall, Mazzaferro Center, 291 Highland Ave. Both the President and Admissions lots are available for parking. Face coverings will be required for this event and visitors will be asked to attest they are free of COVID-19 symptoms. Admission is free and open to the public. The archivist Asher Jackson and Ms. Addorisio will be discussing the collection and its unique content. Face coverings will be required for this event and visitors will be asked to attest they are free of COVID-19 symptoms.

Michael Vincent Addorisio (Addorizzi), the son of immigrant parents Pasquale and Rosina (Maria Rosa Loreto) Addoriso, was born on Jan. 23, 1919, in Fitchburg. He was the sixth of eight children, four born in Rocchetta, Sant'Antonio Italy, and four born in Fitchburg. According to his birth and military records, his official name was Michael Vincent Addorizzi. 

On Oct. 7, 1940, he  enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Springfield, Mass., under the officially recorded name of Michael Vincent Addorizzi. He wrote to his family saying, “don't make fun of my new name” and “remember the 2 zz’s”. 

This collection includes 93 letters from the time he enlisted in 1940 to 1944, when he was killed in an attack on the sea south of the Philippines.