Private Michael Macera was born April 13,1920, one of Maria (Cardillo) and Mauro Macera’s eleven children. As an Italian American his family settled in Johnston, Rhode Island where they owned a large fruit and produce farm. All of Mauro’s sons were to follow in his footsteps and become farmers. The flourishing Macera farm helped see the family through the lean times of the Great Depression.
Michael attended school at a small one room schoolhouse in Simmonsville. Each day, he and his other siblings would walk to school. Michael completed two years of high school at Central High school.
According to his sister Angela, "Michael had a very calm personality and was extremely soft-spoken and patient. Michael was one who loved to relax and enjoyed entertainment." He would often go into town with his sister to attend one of the town's sponsored barn yard dances, see a movie, or enjoy a cookout with his friends. Angela recalled fondly that all of the girls always liked Michael, and although he knew it, he never got into any serious relationships. His mom and sisters loved to tease him about all of the girls that were chasing after him, but he told his mother that he did not want to marry before going into war.
Image of Macera's Family
This is a family portrait of the Macera’s family before Michael’s Departure. Seen as followed: (top row) Louise, Angela, Pasco, Vito, Michael, Ralph, Anthony, Mary, Margaret (front row) Madeline, Mauro, Mary and Evelyn.
When war broke out in Europe, Michael decided that he wanted to join the Army. Although he was drafted in November, 1940, he most likely would have joined anyway. Although it was difficult for Michael’s family to see him leave, in many ways it seemed normal. Young men including many of Michael's friends were leaving for military service. Prior to Michael’s departure, the whole family gathered together to say their goodbyes to their beloved Michael. He gave each sibling something that meant a great deal to him. To his closest sister Angela, he gave his class ring. She told him that upon his return she would give it back to him, but when she said this Michael became quiet and just looked deep into her eyes, for he knew this was going to be the last time he saw her.
As Michael was away at war, his brothers were creating their very own farms while his sisters were doing defense work. His sister Angela worked in a large rubber factory. She had to inspect the rubber and send it overseas to be used in the army. At night, Angela said that she would often go into metropolitan areas to see plays. Fortunately, Michael wrote many long letters to his family, addressing each to different people. He also sent a picture with each letter that showed where he was or what he was doing. In their hometown of Johnston, St. Rocco’s church would host special evening services to pray for those who were serving. Michael’s family would frequently attend these special services.
Michael sent home this picture of himself
at Fort Benning, Georgia.
After being drafted, Michael Macera became a part of the Second Armored Division which was created on the 15th of July in 1945. This division was broken down into three parts; the 66th, the 67th and the 41st. Michael was a part of the 41st Infantry Division and immediately began his training in Fort Benning, Georgia under the command of Major General Charles L. Scott. Later, in November, Macera was brought under the wings of the famous, General George Patton. With General Patton, Macera underwent tough training throughout the southern states of Louisianna, Georgia and the Carolinas. In 1942 Macera and the 41st infantry moved to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Here he endured through rigorous training before he finally departed overseas to North Africa.
Macera landed in Morrocco on Christmas Day, becomming a part of Combat Command B. Here in North Africa, Combat Command B did not face combat. Combat Command A were the men who were a part of Operation Torch, and did face combat. On July 10, 1943 Macera participated in the invasion of Sicily. This was Macera's first time in combat. He aided in the capturing of Sicily, which was a vital to the war effort. After capturing Sicily, Macera moved on to England where he trained in preparation of Normandy. Here in England the 41st Infantry picked up replacements and more weaponry.
Image the jeep Macera drove, an M-3 Halftrack.
On June 9th, three days after the D-Day invasion, Macera rolled onto Omaha beach. He aided the 101st Airborne in capturing Caretan. The 41st attacked south at St. Lo in extremely tough conditions. There was a great deal of large marshy fields. In late July, Macera became a part of Operation Cobra, where the U.S. would break through the German line. This mission was extremely important and proved to be just as successful. Although the Allies were demolishing the war effort at this point, Hitler still believed that his forces could win the war so he kept up the fight. Macera and some of the 41st Infantry pushed along to the Falaise Pocket in August. Here many Germans were trapped and all Macera had to do was capture city after city. Macera became a part of capturing the very last of these cities.
Michael Macera died on September 1, 1944 in France. At this point in the war, parts of the Second Armored Division were seizing and holding bridges in France. Michael was to protect the flanks of the division. As part of his work, Michael had to hide in the brush; therefore his uniform was very camouflage, unlike the traditional uniform. On September 1, 1944 Michael and others were holding a bridge when some Frenchmen stumbled upon them. Misled by their uniforms, the French thought that they were Germans and began to fire. Michael, who spoke little French, tried to explain to them that they were American. Unable to convey the message, Michael was shot and died instantly.
Image 41st Infantry Company C
"My mother used to wait every morning by that mailbox for Mike's letters"
We asked Angela to describe her thoughts about her brother leaving for war.
"I just . . . I can't explain it . . ."
It was the Macera family's choice to have Michael buried in the Normandy Cemetary.
"We wanted to leave him at peace. . . not to be disturbed"