William J. Vendituoli Memorial Day Remembrance

Billy home on furlough December 27 and 28, 1941. The farmhouse still stands today at the corner of Middle Highway and Federal Road.

Billy (left) receiving awards from Lt. Col Bailey M. Coffenberg at Naval Air Station Quonset Point on September 29, 1945.

This Memorial Day, Barrington Farm School honors William “Billy” Vendituoli for his military service and heroism in combat. Billy lived most of his life on the farm, which is home to Barrington Farm School. He moved away to serve in the Marine Corps from 1941 until 1947.

Billy enlisted in the Marines on April 17, 1941. During World War II, Billy served as an ambulance driver in the Pacific theater. He was awarded the Bronze Star twice for bravery in combat on Saipan Island and Iwo Jima Island. Under enemy fire Billy repeatedly shuttled wounded during battle to medical units for treatment. He was also awarded two Purple Heart medals. 

Billy received the first Bronze Star for his evacuation of wounded from the front lines to the field hospital during fighting in the Battle of Saipan from June 15 to July 9, 1944.

According to the citation, Billy was recognized for repeatedly and skillfully carrying out his mission in spite of extreme hazards. “His outstanding courage and devotion to duty while evacuating the wounded from the front lines… was of invaluable aid to saving of many lives.”

He was awarded the Gold Star in lieu of a second Bronze Star, for his “heroic achievement,” “courage,” and “zealous devotion to duty” as an ambulance driver for the Fourth Marine Division during the Battle of Iwo Jima between February 19 and March 16, 1945.

“Operating across an open air field, which was subjected to intense enemy fire on 21 February (1945), Corporal Vendituoli made repeated trips across hazardous terrain to evacuate the wounded from the rear. Throughout the entire period, he worked day and night, braving possible ambush along sniper-infested roads to bring out the wounded men and, on numerous occasions, voluntarily joined litter teams on foot to expedite the evacuation of casualties when he could not drive close enough to them,” according to the citation.

He received a Purple Heart for wounds received in action on June 16, 1944. And a second for wounds received on February 20, 1945. He received an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps on January 24, 1947.

After returning from active duty, Billy was a supervisor at the Barrington Post Office for 26 years. Billy served as a Marine reservist as an amphibian tractor leader in 1950 and 1951.

Undated photo of Billy writing a letter home.

Billy with his wife Dora (Calitri) and sister Gloria Suriani managed the farm and farm stand that was started by their grandparents, Francesco and Isabella (Rega) Cuzzone. The land was purchased in 1897 by the couple who had recently immigrated from Italy. The farm was a hub of food and farming activity for family and friends. Many local students worked summers for Billy at the farm. The farm stayed in the family until 2018 when it was acquired and protected by local volunteers and donors. BFS strives to honor Billy’s character and spirit by making the farm a community resource and a place to grow and share food. Billy was born April 21, 1922. He passed away August 26, 2016 at the age of 94.