Obituary: Charles (Charlie) Leggiero
April 5, 1920 — July 16, 2021
A veteran of two wars, Charles (Charlie) Leggiero went to his eternal reward on July 16 at the age of 101.
Charlie was born April 5, 1920, to Guiseppe and Lena Leggiero in Rotterdam Junction, New York. After serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941. Because of his skiing experience in upstate New York, he volunteered for the first mountain warfare unit in U.S. military history. After training in the harsh conditions of Mount Rainier, as a member of the 87th Infantry Regiment, he was sent to the Aleutian islands to stem the threat of the Japanese incursion.
After his return, Charlie trained with the newly created 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale, Colorado. He saw action in the historic battles in the Apennines of Northern Italy, the Po River Valley, Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere before advancing through Verona to Lake Garda, then through the Alps to Austria.
For his bravery and sacrifice he was awarded the Bronze star and an Oak Leaf Cluster. Charlie left the 10th as a Regimental Sergeant Major and returned to Colorado.
In October 1945, Charlie married Eleanor Vaughn, the ranchers’ daughter that he had fallen in love with at the Catholic church in Fruita, Colorado, and they prepared to spend the rest of their lives together right there in western Colorado. But world events intervened again and Charlie was recalled to serve as an officer in Korea with the 8th army for the next two years.
Once again returning to the Grand Valley after Korea, Charlie spent the next 25 years working on the Colorado River storage project with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. He was active in the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and a perpetual member of the St Jude Apostolate.
Charlie was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Eleanor. He is survived by his son Chuck (wife Sue), granddaughter Aimee, four great-grandchildren and one rambunctious 2-year-old great-great grandson. He also leaves on this Earth many nieces and nephews whose lives will be forever influenced by his humor, love and wisdom. Among those remembering Charlie will be the many, many youngsters for whom he provided skis and who learned to ski from a true pioneer of the slopes.
When in Vail, be sure to visit the statue of the 10th Mountain Trooper at the covered bridge over Gore Creek. Remember the sacrifices of this group of young men and boys, and raise a glass to these rugged warriors.
Mass will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 10, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Grand Junction. A reception will follow mass with internment next to Eleanor at 2 p.m.