When Tony Tomassoni went to recruiting centers in 1943, he was turned away.
He did not have to serve. He was given a pass to get out of the war.
He walked away... disappointed.
Tomassoni was born and raised on Eddy Street.
When he was 16, his friends from Warren's West Side were gone.
He wanted to join them.
Tomassoni went to Buffalo to enlist and do his part in World War II. "The war was on," he said. "I was the only one left in my group."
He went straight to the Marine Corps recruiter. His 16-year-old mind knew that's where the glory was, he said. "Hero stuff. Man stuff."
He had no trouble with the physical requirements, but he couldn't pass the reading portion of the exam and was turned away.
The same happened at the Navy, Army, and Coast Guard.
Then he heard a voice call his name. "Hey, Tomassoni."
A retired state trooper working for the Merchant Marine recognized the young man and called him over. "He got me into boot camp without an examination," Tomassoni said.
"When I went to boot camp I was 16 years old," he said.
A few months later, Tomassoni was on a ship bound for war.
He served for two years. He left the Merchant Marine. He was drafted into the Navy.
He came back. Many of his friends didn't.
"Warren took an awful beating in World War II," Tomassoni said. "The West Side of Warren... I think we lost 12 people."
"Every street we lost a good friend," he said.
In addition to friends, Tomassoni lost a cousin, Tommy Saporito, who was serving with the U.S. Army in Europe.
During the war, however, Tomassoni made new friends... and family.
"There's not too many of us left any more," he said. "I still got three (friends) left I met in boot camp and we were aboard ship together."
Both of Tomassoni's parents were born in Italy and the war gave him the opportunity to meet family members he would not have met otherwise.
"I was over in Italy and I met some of my relatives," he said. They had heard Tomassoni would be making port near their home and came to see him.