Amedeo Petrongolo Jr., 93, of Berlin, a highly decorated World War II veteran who was twice wounded in combat and who later helped start a family construction company in South Jersey, died Thursday, May 16, of prostate cancer at home.
Mr. Petrongolo was known throughout the mid-Atlantic region as an owner of A.P. Construction Inc., a business in Blackwood run by the Petrongolo family.
“He literally built one of the most successful companies in the mid-Atlantic region,” said Ed Rendell, who recalled contracting with the firm when he was governor of Pennsylvania. “This is the epitome of the American dream, [a family] coming to this country and doing great things.”
Known as “Moe,” Mr. Petrongolo was born in South Philadelphia to immigrant parents and lived there until January 1944, when he joined the Army.
He fought in France and Germany with the famous Second Battalion of the 253rd Infantry Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division. The battalion received a presidential citation for valor in April 1945 when it helped the Allied campaign to defeat the Nazis by crossing the Rhine River into Germany, pushing back two special regiments.
As an infantry scout, Mr. Petrongolo conducted patrols behind enemy lines. He distinguished himself on Feb. 12, 1945, and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in ground combat.
A week later, he was shot through the thigh but kept fighting during a push by the Allied troops across the Saar River into Germany. He was awarded a Purple Heart in recognition of the wound.
While recovering at a field hospital in France, Mr. Petrongolo learned that his unit was to participate in another attack. “He told doctors to release him or he would go AWOL,” his family said.
The doctors relented, and on April 6, 1945, Mr. Petrongolo led his unit forward to break through the Siegfried Line, an important defensive position held by the Germans. During the attack, Mr. Petrongolo sustained severe shrapnel wounds to his legs, back, a hand, and face. He received a second Purple Heart and, after convalescing at a hospital in Virginia, was honorably discharged in November 1945, according to his military record.
In 2015, seven decades after the war had ended, Mr. Petrongolo became a chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the highest medal bestowed by France. The award, which recognized his contribution to the liberation of France from German occupation, was presented by the French consul at a ceremony in New York.
“I am going to enjoy getting this because we did more for France than anybody,” Mr. Petrongolo told the Camden Courier-Post in a story before the presentation.
After the war, Mr. Petrongolo opened Moe’s Atlantic Station & Luncheonette in Blackwood. In 1946, he married his high school sweetheart, Anna Salerno, and they settled in Berlin.
Mr. Petrongolo then joined his father and brothers in setting up the family construction business. At age 93, he still went to work each weekday with his extended family. “It’s the kids who run the business, and he worked till the end,” said Rendell. “They had lunch together every day.”
Besides managing the company, Mr. Petrongolo enjoyed touring Puerto Rico, gardening, boating, visiting casinos, and spending time with family. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Men of Malvern.
He is survived by children Carol Shaw, June Romond, and Michael; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and three brothers. His wife and son Robert died earlier.
A viewing starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 22, at St. Simon Stock/Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 178 W. White Horse Pike, Berlin, will be followed by a noon Funeral Mass. Entombment will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery & Mausoleum, Blackwood.