Recreating the List of the Raritan
Men and Women who served in World War II
Last month this author was browsing through the reference section at the Bridgewater Library when I stumbled across an old binder that had lists of the men and women in Somerset County who served in World War II.

There was a separate section for each town. It was obviously printed off an old typewriter.

Supporting documentation inside the binder informs me that this list was obtained by placing ads in the local newspapers in 1946 – one year after the war – asking for families to write to “S.B. Richards” on West Cliff Street in Somerville to provide the name and town of those who served during this global conflict.
On the Raritan list we find 675 names. That tells me that this list, which I will call “The Richard’s List”, has approximately 80% of the Raritan men and women who served in World War II. For we know that Raritan had around 852 who served as during the war the town tracked the count publicly on a large display - called the Honor Roll – that was on Somerset Street by where the Post Office is today.

Constructed around 1943 names were printed on the display as the local men and women joined the armed forces. The total number, that appeared at the top of the display, would be updated occasionally. Surviving photos show that 852 was the final number.
The Honor Roll display would be the site for patriotic ceremonies during and after the war.

Raritan historian Don Esposito recalls that his boy scout troop would hold events there in the early 1950s, but sometime after that the Honor Roll display was taken down and discarded. Thus, the list of the names that was once so carefully recorded and cherished was gone.
So, this author’s project, with help from his usual supporting cast, is to “reconstruct” and “enhance” that list – which we will call “Raritan’s World War II Database”.

For our inclusion criteria we have decided to be generous as our database will not just include anyone who lived in Raritan at the time they joined service, but also include a few others who lived in Raritan when they were young, then years later (but before WWII) join the service from another town.

To “reconstruct” the list, we need to find and add the missing names.

To “enhance” our list, we need to add information for each name such as the “branch of service” (army, navy, marines …), home address in Raritan, and if they were awarded any medals.
Five Raritan guys in Hawaii
Jimmie Tozzi, Benny Paliani, Michael DeCicco,
William Hratko, & Joe DiMaggio
Step 1 – Search through the old Polk’s Directories

To gather our additional names, we first check these old directories (Polk’s) that are available at the Bridgewater Library. These directories are not well known or widely referenced, but they contain a roster of most of the adults in Raritan along with their address and (usually) their occupation which often was shown to be a “branch of service” in the military.

A search through the 1944 directory provides us many additional names that we add to the newly discovered Richard’s list. In addition to just new names, here we find addresses and “branch of service” for many existing names.
Tony Lettieri (on right)
Step 2 – Read the old Newspapers

This author read through the surviving issues from the war years of Raritan’s weekly newspaper – The Raritan Valley News. (These newspapers are in a private collection). They contain a wide range of information such as who from Raritan was a “Prisoner of War” and who was wounded. That detail can now be added to “Raritan’s World War II Database”.

Fortunately, if a soldier or sailor was mentioned in an article the newspaper made sure to identify the person’s branch of service, home address, and state whether they had siblings serving in the war. Very useful information for this project.
Step 3 - Contact the local community through social media and email

After the search through the Polk’s Directories and the old newspapers, our database has much more information. But we are still short many names and for many of the names that we have we do not have an address or know the “branch of service”. To fill in some of these blanks we turn to the internet. We email the usual mailing list of Raritan contacts.

Also, on social media we put out the word that this database is being formed and can be viewed online for anyone to inspect. Thus, we receive many new names and information gaps are closed as relatives contact us.
John Soriano
Step 4 – Ask the public through The Breeze

With this article we further reach out to the public to fill in the blanks.

The database can be seen at

Additions or corrections are welcome and can be emailed to

Also, if anyone wants an Excel spreadsheet (or PDF) of the database, just send an email asking for such.
Raritan's John Rossi, Armi Salerno,
Dominic Porcaro & Steve Sabol
Database status as of now

At the current time there are 837 names on “Raritan’s World War II Database”.

Of these 88% have a known “branch of service” and for 96% we know what street they lived on. The information in this database should be interesting to anyone who ever lived in Raritan.

The number of Raritan families that had multiple siblings serving their country is amazing. The Delrocco Family had five brothers and the Glaser Family had five siblings - including nurse Charlotte.

Many other families have four brothers – Musz, Strelko, Grayovski, Vitaliano, Dobrosky, and Troisi.
The Five Delrocco Brothers
Top - Mike and Frank
Bottom - Joe, Jimmy, & Steve
As for medals for bravery, 24 Raritan men were awarded the Bronze Star, 3 the Silver Star, and 8 the Air Medal.

One guy, that we have a parade for every year, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.

We have identified 30 recipients of the Purple Heart – a medal that is given to those wounded in battle.

Our online database has all these names. Check it out.

Currently only five people in our database are known to be alive as of January 2022. They are John Hudak, Tony Lettieri, James Esposito, John Orrechio, and Gene Moretti. Are there any more? Please let us know.
And now today – going forward

In our database we show 14 women. We rightly include two women who served overseas in a non-military role. Kaye Russell as a USO Entertainer and Mary Elizabeth Street worked for the Red Cross. This author hopes to write a future article about the women of World War II.

Through this new research we find that eight Raritan men were “prisoners of war”. All but one, Reverend Koskamp, would survive the war. A future article will tell of them as well.
Charlotte Glaser
“Raritan’s World War II Database” has numerous connections to today as many on the list have children and grandchildren living in the area.

Remarkably 5 of 7 of today’s mayor and council have relatives on that list.

Councilman Paul Giraldi’s father Philip was in the army.
Nicolas Carra’s great uncle John Hudak served in the Navy.
Councilwoman Joyce Melitsky had two uncles serve in the war.
Councilwoman Joan Huztler’s father Michael Melitski served in the army.
Lastly, Mayor Zack Bray’s distant relative Dominic Baldini was killed in the war.
Dominic Baldini
So now what will become of “Raritan’s World War II Database” once it is made as complete as possible? One version of it will be online.

As for a permanent physical memorial, this author has a proposed design that he will share in the upcoming issue of the Breeze. It would be wonderful to have the names of the men and women who served their country displayed somewhere in town just as it was done during World War II.