Frank Baldrini died in January, 1991, four months shy of his 100th birthday. His obituary in the Syracuse Herald-Journal, written by Anne Roth, said that Baldrini was an interpreter in the Mexican Revolution in 1916 and participated in World War 1 battles in the Argonne and Belleau Woods.
"I was in the front line, the infantry," he said of his World War 1 experience. He was a bugle boy who led troops into battle. "A lot of bugle boys were used as messengers," he said. "That's how they got killed."
In 1943, when he was 52, he decided to enlist in the Army for World War 2. According to a 1990 story in the Syracuse Post-Standard by Shu Shu Foo, Baldrini's wife, Margaret, told him he wouldn't pass the physical. He seemed to take that as a challenge. "I went right down there and Boom!" He passed and immediately enlisted.
He said one reason he joined the Army again was an attempt to prevent his son, Francis, from being called into service. That may have worked for awhile, but the younger Baldrini joined the Navy a year later. The Navy had been Baldrini's first choice for World War 1 service, but he said that because he wasn't yet a citizen the Navy wouldn't take him, so he joined the Army.
Jean Sardino, one of Baldrini's three daughters, said her father so loved his adopted country that he wanted to go to Vietnam with his grandsons. But this time, finally, he really was too old.
Baldrini was born in Austria and never went beyond first or second grade, according to Mrs. Sardino. But he spoke five languages: English, Spanish, Italian, German and French.
She said perhaps the best thing that ever happened to him was meeting and marrying Margaret Grogan, who was born in Ireland. Her father was feisty, said Mrs. Sardino, while her mother was very gentle. They met in a Long Island hospital where he was convalescing after World War 1. She died in 1981.
Frank Baldrini also outlived his son, Francis, who died in 1987. He was survived by his three daughters, Jean Sardino of Camillus, Mary Stone of New York City and Edna Strazzini of San Diego, California, and 18 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.
He came to the United States in 1907 and settled in Solvay because the village had become sort of a colony for Tyroleans who quickly found work at the Solvay Process Company. Baldrini followed suit, but then went to work for New York Central where he would spend 40 years as a brakeman and conductor, with time off, of course, for his service in not one, but two World Wars.