August 28 – Happy Birthday Donato “Danny” Simiele


He was named Donato after his grandfather but growing up on the South Side of Amsterdam, he was Danny, the son of Molly DiCaprio Simiele. His dad Joe Simiele had died when he was just 5-years-old leaving his mom to raise him by herself with help from her siblings, Ralph and Anna.

Danny was a good kid growing up. He had a paper route and learned to play the piano but he could also be quite the prankster. He was known to toss water balloons at unsuspecting girls in the neighborhood and when he wanted to take it up a notch he’d throw fish eggs at them too. He was especially close to his cousin Rusty Sheckton He was also a good student at Wilbur Lynch High School and after he graduated from there in 1964 he enrolled at Cobleskill Ag & Tech. America’s military involvement in Vietnam was escalating at breakneck speed at this time and hundreds of thousands of young men Danny’s age were getting drafted into the service. As the only surviving male in his family, Danny didn’t have to worry about getting drafted but he felt as if he had an obligation to serve his country. So in 1966 he enlisted in the Army.

After completing basic training and artillery school, Simiele shipped out to Vietnam in July of 1967 for a one-year tour of duty with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. He was a good soldier, earning a promotion to Sergeant. Then, just one month shy of completing his tour, Danny was mortally wounded by an exploding enemy mortar shell on June 9, 1968, during combat action in the Gia Dinh province of what was then still South Vietnam.

His death came just three days after Robert Kennedy was assassinated and the continuing media coverage of that assassination sort of overshadowed the news of Danny’s death. But an entire city mourned the loss of this brave and noble young man and on the South Side “Danny” suddenly became a popular name for newborn sons. At the time of his death, Simiele became the 16thAmsterdam area resident to lose his life in that conflict.  Unfortunately, he would not be the last.

Amsterdam haircutters from two different generations also share August 28 Birthdays.

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