TRAFFORD (KDKA) – His is the face of WWI and the American immigrant experience.
His name is Nicola Elmo.
“He lived here in Trafford and worked for the Pennsylvania railroad,” said Andrew Capets. “Nicola had a wife and a child.”
And some 96 years ago, a veteran of the Italian army, Nicola volunteers to fight for his new country. The 30-year-old man fought in pitched battle against the Germans. His life ended just before the end of the war to end all wars.
“Unfortunately died seven days before the end of the war,” said Capets. “He’s buried in Flanders Fields American Cemetery in Belgium.”
And that was it. The world went on, Nicola was dead and gone. Somehow his name was omitted on Trafford’s WWI monument. Then the grandson of another WWI vet from Trafford decided to right a wrong.
“His name was added just this year to the monument,” Capets said.
Capets’ mission to recognize Nicola came with a recently discovered piece of Trafford history, the original monument dedication program from 1919.
“There were four names on the program, but only three on the monument,” Capets said. “That’s how we found out about Nicola last year.”
There to see it all was Nicola’s great niece from Maryland.
“He is my great uncle, he was my grandfather’s brother whom I didn’t even know we had,” said Martha McSorley. “I’m just amazed at the whole thing.”
And with Trafford looking on, McSorley received the flag for her lost great uncle, on behalf of a grateful nation.
“I think I’s wonderful that you can find him and find he even served for the United States and he’s done honor for our family,” McSorley said.