One of Amsterdam’s most decorated veterans of World War II was a noncombatant Roman Catholic U.S. Army chaplain, the Rev. Anthony R. Sidoti.
He was awarded two Silver Stars, a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star in the war.
Sidoti was born in Brooklyn in 1914. His parents — Angelo and Anna Saltalamacchia Sidoti — moved to Amsterdam when Anthony, their only child, was 7. They lived at first on Forbes Street and later on Union Street. Anthony graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1930. He attended Notre Dame then transferred to Niagara University, from which he graduated. He played football and basketball at both colleges.
He studied for the priesthood first in Rome and then at Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Albany. His ordination was in 1940. He was assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Gloversville in 1942 when he enlisted in the war effort as one of the U.S. Army’s youngest chaplains.
Arriving in France 11 days after the Normandy invasion in June 1944, Chaplain Sidoti at first served in a hospital unit. In September he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 358th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division as battalion chaplain.
His first Silver Star citation stated Sidoti established an aid station in an abandoned cement factory near the Moselle River in France during an assault in November 1944.
“Working for 36 consecutive hours, he directed and personally assisted in the evacuation of casualties from the front lines to the far side of the river,” stated the citation, noting Sidoti, under constant enemy fire, was tireless, courageous and encouraging to the troops.
He was wounded in the knee in late November in Tettingen, Germany, while evacuating injured soldiers. Taken to England to recover, he rejoined his unit in early 1945.
Sidoti’s other Silver Star was earned in combat in March 1945 in Ehr, Germany, during an intense mortar, machine gun and small arms attack.
The citation stated, “Learning of a seriously wounded man lying in an exposed position, Chaplain Sidoti unhesitatingly advanced through the fire, reached the casualty and carried him to a litter squad. He then carried the dead body of another casualty to a place of cover. The men of the company, inspired by his courageous and selfless actions, reorganized themselves and completed the battalion mission successfully and without further casualties.”
According to his second cousin, Nancy Mattas of Amsterdam, Sidoti brought home a small dog, hidden in his uniform, when he returned from Europe. The dog was named “G.I.”
Sidoti continued his military service as a chaplain with the New York State National Guard. He rose to the rank of colonel and was chief of chaplains for the state of New York. On his military retirement in 1974 he was promoted to brigadier general.
As a parish priest in the Diocese of Albany, Sidoti served two years in Frankfort after the war. In 1948, he was appointed to St. Anthony’s Church in Albany, where he was assistant pastor, then administrator until 1966, when he was named pastor. He was director of the Bishop’s Fund from 1955 through 1966. In 1970, he was appointed pastor of St. James Church in Albany. He retired in 1990.
In an interview with the Evangelist newspaper of the Albany Diocese in 1994, Sidoti said, “I think I’m a better priest because of my military service. You actually felt closer to God in a sense.”
Sidoti died in May 2004 and is buried at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Amsterdam.
Information in this article was gathered by John Pepe and his son William from the Amsterdam area, who document the war records of local soldiers.
Bob Cudmore is a freelance columnist. Opinions in his column are his own and not necessarily those of the newspaper. Reach him at 346-6657 or at [email protected]