MS-120: Naviglia-Woncheck World War II Letters Home - A Family Separated by War

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MS – 120: Naviglia-Woncheck World War II Letters Home: A Family  Separated by War

(1 box, .18 cubic feet)

Inclusive Dates: June 22, 1943 – October 16, 1945

Processed by: G. Ronald Couchman

Spring 2011

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF


Gift from William Vitelli

(Accession 2010-0904 & 2011-0970)

Family Biography

The Naviglia and Woncheck families from New Kensington, Pennsylvania, a city 18 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, became connected through the marriage of Anne Naviglia to William T. Woncheck.  During the early 1940s, this extended family experienced the separation and sacrifices that a nation at war demands, as five members served during World War II in different units from several branches of the armed forces.  Like many service men at the time, they kept in contact with the folks at home through letters and postcards.  Nearly all of the letters in this collection are from Anne’s four brothers: Louis “GeGe” age 35, John “Johnny” or “Johnnie” age 30, James “Jimmy’ age 28, Joseph “Josie” age 22, and from her husband’s brother Michael “Check” Woncheck age unknown.  According to the 76th Infantry Division Archives website, Louis, one of the Naviglia brothers, was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic or meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy.  His letters do not reveal the circumstances behind that award.  All of the Naviglia brothers and Michael Woncheck survived the war.  The letters portray a loving family separated by war.  The families remained close to their Western Pennsylvania home with   Luciano, the father, Louis, Anne, John and James all buried in Greenwood Memorial Park, Lower Burrell, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Scope and Content Notes

The collection consists of 31 letters or postcards by service men to loved ones at home.  Nearly all of the letters are from members of the Naviglia-Woncheck extended family including the four Naviglia brothers: Louis (14 letters), John (one letter), James (one letter), Joseph (7 letters), and Michael Woncheck (5 letters) the brother-in-law of their sister Anne.  The collection also includes one letter from PFC James Faulkner to his sister and one letter from Pvt. David R. Curry to his cousin, Frances Faulkner, a card address to Ford Peters, a war ration book, a Draft Classification Notice for  William Thomas Woncheck, Anne’s husband, and an uniform name badge for Sgt Woncheck.

The letters, which originate from a number of U.S. military bases as well as from different locations in Europe and the Pacific, reveal a little about military life but are more significant for what they portray about the war’s effect on the service men and on the folks at home.  Many of the letters make reference to and ask about other members of the family serving in different units and theaters of war.  Ten of the letters are addressed to their parents.  Interestingly, two of the sons, the oldest and the youngest, use the Italian spelling, Luciano, and two uses the English spelling, Louis.  Fourteen of the letters are addressed to Anne or William Woncheck. 

The letters are organized chronological by sender.  All of the letters have the accompanying envelope with many showing the censor seal and free postage. 

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF