A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a treasure trove of family photos. Photographs of my great grandfather, my grandmother when she was young, and my Grandfather's never before seen photos from World War 2. This stopped my entire family in their tracks as we tried to rebuild our story.

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~1907 New York City
Joseph Acquiste [my great grandfather] as a young man.

1910s New York
Joseph Acquiste, blacksmith at Progressive Iron Works.

~1916 Bayonne, NJ
Joseph Acquiste, wife Lucy, and first child Mildred.

1920s Bayonne, NJ
First garage with indoor car lift, owner William 'Willy' Acquiste [far right]. Joseph changed to William to be more American.

1920s, Manhattan
Joseph 'Willy' Acquiste [far right] and his crew working on NY Transit system.

1920s Bayonne, NJ
Lucy Acquiste [mother], oldest daughter Mildred, in arms Rosalie [my grandmother].

1920s Bayonne, NJ
Either Mildred or Rosalie on the left, cousin on the right.

WW2: Army Air Corp, 99th Bombardment Group

Using bits of information: years, locations, these new found photos, and a good bit of research on our part, his story unfolded.

My grandfather served as a bomber mechanic supporting the 99th Bombardment Group of the 15th Air Force. Wikipedia has a nice entry on the squadron, and Thunder from the South, the veterans group is also pretty informative.


May 1942 Miami Beach
My grandfather, Ernest Carbone [right] sparring with Pete Sanstol[left], prize fighter.

Pete Sanstol

A boxer who emerged during the "Golden Age of Bantamweight Boxing" of the 1920s. 1931 Sanstol won the World Bantamweight Title, successfully defending it several times. Sanstol was later inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000.

Youtube video of Pete boxing in 1935.

Oct 1942 Chanute Field, IL
Ernest Carbone [right].

Oct 1942 Chanute Field, IL
Ernest Carbone [left].

Oct 1942 Chanute Field, IL

Oct 1942 Chanute Field, IL
Ernest Carbone [right, standing].

Nov 1942 Seattle, Washington
Boeing Aircraft Training Center, Barrack 119.

Nov 1942 Seattle, Washington
Boeing Aircraft Training Center, Barrack 119.

Headed Overseas

Ground and support personnel and equipment made the journey by ship. Upon arrival in North Africa, the 99th was attached to the 5th Bombardment Wing of Twelfth Air Force, and was stationed at Navarin, located near Constantine, Algeria. The group came to be referred to as the Diamondbacks, due to a diamond insignia painted on the vertical stabilizer of their B-17s.

May 1943 Atlantic Ocean
Transit to Algeria & Tunisia

May 1943 Atlantic Ocean
Transit to Algeria & Tunisia.

 1943 North Africa
Carbone [left].

B-17 Bomber, 99th Army Air Base Wing.

B-17 Bomber, 99th Army Air Base Wing.
"This one had a rough trip" - E. Carbone

Carbone [center].

Carbone [foreground] working on B17 bomber.

KWITURBITCHIN. Carbone [right].


On November 2, 1943, the four B-17 groups of the 5th Wing and two B-24 groups of the 9th Air Force were combined with two fighter groups to form the new 15th Air Force. 

With the Allied advancement up the boot of Italy, it was decided to relocate the 5th Wing there in order to bring more Axis targets within reach of the bombers. Each group was assigned a base on the Foggia plains, the 99th being stationed at Tortorella.

The planes arrived at Tortorella in December of 1943. Living conditions at Tortorella were very harsh. The summers were hot and dusty, the winters cold and wet. Buildings were few, and airplane maintenance crews worked out in the open. The men lived in tents using homemade gasoline stoves for heat. The men constantly had to struggle through mud and water, snow and ice, or choking dust, depending on the season.

June 1944 Italy

July 1944 Italy

July 16th 1944 Italy

July 1944 Italy
Writing letters to home.

August 3rd 1944 Italy
"My country home with a few extensions." - E. Carbone.

1944 Italy

1944 Italy
Carbone [top], in the engine.

September 1944 Italy
Ration Day - cigarettes, candy, soap, etc, and tickets for 5 bottles of beer, and two cokes all for $1.60. The Guy behind me is the tallest in the sqdn. about 6'5". - E. Carbone

September 1944 Italy
One of the few WW2 photos I had seen before.

1944 Italy

December 1944 Italy


It would seem, Gramps had a nice time in Rome.

Stateside again

Late 1940s
Rosalie [my grandmother], father William [Joe], and friend.

Late 1940s

June 21st 1947 Bayonne, NJ
Ernest & Rosalie Carbone, Wedding day. Pictured: Ernest, Rosalie [front]. Back: Frank Carbone [left], Detommaso boys [cousins, right].

1951 Staten Island Zoo
Ernest Carbone and son 'little' Ernie [my father] at Staten Island Zoo. Cousins Mildred, Lou, and children[background].

Ernest Carbone and son Ernie Jr.

Date unknown.
Joseph Acquiste, on motorcycle he built and toured Italy on.