A 100-year-old World War II veteran will be honored this month for his military service and longevity.
Mike Aleo, born August 27, 1922, will be feted on March 29, 2023 – National Vietnam War Veterans Day. The 1 p.m. celebrationwill be held at the VFW Post 6691, 17075 Anita in Fraser. As part of the celebration, four groups —Vietnam Veterans of America, Detroit Chapter #9, Associates Vietnam Veterans of American, Chapter 9, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6691 (VFW) and Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary – will donate$2,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Aleo’s honor.
“All of these organizations work to support veterans, and we thought it was important for our Vietnam Veterans as well as all veterans to honor an individual who fought in the war that changed the world and to also celebrate a life well lived,” explained Paul Palazzolo, president of VVA#9.
Aleo served in the U.S. Army as a corporal and field wire chief 641 in the Field Artillery Battalion, BatteryA,from 1943-1946. He was involved in four different campaigns in Europe: Northern France, Battle of the Bulge, Rhineland, and Central Europe. Decorated with the American Theater Ribbon, EAME Theater Ribbon with four Bronze Stars, a Good Conduct Medal, and a WWII Victory Medal, Aleo also received the French Legion of Honor Medal in 2017 for his performance in France during WWII.
It was while serving in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army — about which Aleo is extremely proud — that the battalion was assigned to help the French 2nd Army Infantry led by Gen.Charles De Gaulle.
The group fought the Germans at a city called Royan to take back the port of Bordeaux, Aleo recalled. “About 6,000 rounds were fired into Royan in a short period of time, which was followed by a heavy air bombardment. The French infantry moved in, and a few of us went with them.”
Aleo, whose wife Catherine died in 2015, resides in the Pine Ridge of Garfield Independent Living Community. Though slightly hard of hearing, he’s an active 100-year-old who rides an exercise bike daily. He also stays active playing euchre, gardening and being involved in other activities at Pine Ridge.He stays connected to his three adult children, Steve, Michael, and Joan.
“He’s always been a humble man, a proud man, a big family man,” said his son Steve. In his younger years, his other passions were golf, fishing, and travel, his son notes.
In 2016, Steve persuaded his father to get involved with the Lt. Wood-CPl. Reid Post 6691 of the VFW, where he befriended Claude Wood, who is the Wood in the post’s name. Aleo has twice served as grand marshal at the Fraser Day Parade in July.
And in case him turning the corner on to his 101st birthday later this year seems like a big deal, “he’s got an older brother who is 103,” said Steve. “I hope I can have a portion of those genes.”