World War II veteran and CPD sergeant, turning 100 this weekend: 'I really was a lucky man'

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Thursday, March 14, 2024
World War II veteran and CPD sergeant, turning 100 this weekend
Tony Figlioli, a World War II veteran and Chicago police sergeant, is turning 100 this weekend. At one time, he was missing in action.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A former soldier and Chicago police sergeant once reported missing in action during World War II is now turning 100 this weekend.

Tony Figlioli fought on D-Day and in the Battle of the Bulge. He also helped liberate concentration camps.

"There was bodies 10 feet high in there that had died in there," Figlioli said. "We opened the gates, and they came dashing through. The healthy ones came dashing out, hugging us. It was a great feeling to release people like that."

He then spent 40 years in CPD, retiring as a sergeant.

This weekend, as Figlioli turns 100 years old, he's reflecting on his nearly century alive. He said he has nothing but gratitude.

"God riding on my shoulders. I really was a lucky man," he said.

He received a Bronze Star for having hundreds of ragged German soldiers surrender to his small team near the end of the war.

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"He says, 'are you in charge?' I says, 'yes, I am.' He says, 'we want to give up, we don't want the Russians to get us.' There were about 600 and of them. And we were 12," Figlioli said.

He also received a Purple Heart after being shot in a forest skirmish.

"I realized I was hit because blood was dripping off my arm, off the barrel of the gun, and I said, 'Jesus, he did get me,'" Figlioli said.

He remembered with tears in his eyes, surprising his family, when he returned home, carrying the key to their house on a chain around his neck throughout the war.

"My mother screamed when she saw me," Figlioli said. "It's been about 80 years, almost, since that time. And I still have a feeling of, you know, a great feeling."

He met his wife, Wilma, of 72 years, after pulling over her brother-in-law for speeding.

"He says, 'can I have her number?' Yeah, yeah," Wilma Figlioli said.

Now, the two have four children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Tony Figlioli said it's been a life well-led, one he's proud of.