War Hero Anthony Paolantonio Remembered in Tarrytown  

Paolantonio’s plane was shot down in January 1944. Photo supplied by Susan Paolantonio

This past Memorial Day, the Village of Tarrytown remembered the life of a local war hero for his bravery during World War II.  

Anthony Paolantonio was a B-24 bomber in Belgium during the war that took the lives of millions of military personnel.  

Paolantonio was almost another number in that statistic.  

After his plane was shot down, the Westchester native and 1940 North Tarrytown High School graduate parachuted out of the plane and hid under a bale of hay, recalls his niece, Susan Paolantonio 

With word of the plane being shot down and no sign of Paolantonio in the immediate aftermath, he was first considered missing in action on Jan. 29, 1944. By March 9 of that year, he was presumed to be dead.  

His funeral was even held in Tarrytown. Meanwhile, Paolantonio was hiding in the basement of a Belgian bar the entire time. Six months after disappearing from the plane, he sent a simple, yet powerful telegram to his parents: “Mom and Pop, it’s Tony. I’m alive. I’m coming home,” his niece remembers the message reading.  

Those six months in hiding were anything but easy, though. At one point, Paolantonio had to jump out of the back of a moving bus to avoid capture. Newspaper clippings from that year note that he may have been held prisoner in a section of Germany that was invaded by the Allied forces, or in one of the satellite countries which had given up in the war.  

But soon enough, Paolantonio was back in New York, where he was celebrated as a war hero at the Tarrytown Memorial Day Parade. This time, he was the parade grand marshal.  

Paolantonio’s return to Belgium to thank those who saves his life was covered by the local press. Photo supplied by Susan Paolantonio

He became involved with the VA Hospital in Castle Point, volunteering there, but also rehabbing from stress and malnutrition from wartime, as both his niece and his daughter, Phyllis, remembered.  

Upon their return from Europe, other surviving members of his flight that went down came back to the region to celebrate with Paolantonio. In Sleepy Hollow, a block party was held with these war veterans, who reminisced on their time in Belgium together.  

While happy to be back in Tarrytown, there was one other trip Paolantonio was sure to make.  Back to Belgium, where he had the opportunity to thank the people who saved his life while helping him hide for those grueling six months.  

Anthony Paolantonio died at the age of 81 on July 2, 2002. But thanks to his family members and the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow communities, his name is still being honored to this day – and will never be forgotten. 


  1. That’s My Grandpa a true Italian American War Hero. He deserves all of this cause he was a very humble man. Never taking credit for anything he was just doing his Job protecting That American flag we all love..!! Rest Easy Gramps we all Love you and Thank You for your service……;!!

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About the Author: Alex Horowitz