John D. Fornaciari, Private First Class
John D. Fornaciari was born in Chicago in 1889. He was raised as a member of a large family on Chicago’s southside. He began a career as a tailor after high school. Following the American entry into World War I, Fornaciari enlisted in the United States Army in April of 1917.
Fornaciari was assigned to the 122nd Field Artillery Regiment-Battery E which was part of the 33rd Division. His military preparation involved basic training which was completed at Camp Logan (Texas).
Upon arrival in Europe the 122nd became part of General Pershing’s American Expeditionary Forces. The 122nd was in combat for most of the remaining months of the war. Private Fornaciari was in action in the following battles Verdun, Argonne Forest, Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel and Romaine. Following the fighting Fornaciari received a citation for bravery in action during the battle of the Argonne Forest. This citation was awarded along with the Silver Star medal by the War Department. The French government also awarded Fornaciari a medal of honor for bravery as a result of his efforts at Verdun. His name is listed on a plaque erected by the French government at Verdun.
After the war Fornaciari returned to Chicago and continued his career as a tailor. He also served as a precinct captain in Chicago’s 17th ward. John Fornaciari was happily married to his wife Anna and together they raised two sons. He was proud to see both of his sons John and Earl serve in the United States military during WW II. Fornaciari passed away at the age of 77 in 1966 following a brief illness.
Book dedicated: Chicago-Area Italians in World War I: A Case Study of Calabrians by Peter L. Belmonte