Boston, MA – Last week Congressman Stephen F. Lynch presented the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Congressional Gold Medal to United States Army Private Semeon ‘Sam’ Simollari of the Albanian Unit, Company B, 2677th Regiment, for his remarkable courage and service in World War II. As the only surviving American member of his Unit, Sam played a vital role in the United States Army’s quest to defeat the Nazis in the German occupation of Albania. The intimate ceremony was held at the South Shore Rehabilitation and Nursing Center with Sam’s family in attendance.
Born in Permet, Albania in 1930, Sam moved to The United States with his parents and grew up in the West End of Boston. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he was recruited by the OSS because of his acute knowledge of the Albanian language and culture. He trained with a group of 20 other Albanian-American soldiers before they were sent to Bari, Italy to aid the Albanian partisans in defeating the Nazi invaders. Sam parachuted from a plane near Korce, Albania to join the Albanian Freedom Fighters and fellow English-speaking soldiers to gather information on German activity. As a radio operator, Sam was responsible for transmitting pertinent information back to their headquarters in Bari, Italy which helped the Allied Forces plan the bombing runs that would later help them win the war. On November 28th, 1944 the Germans retreated from Albania and Sam was one of 26 Americans that were part of the Albanian OSS Unit that marched into Tirana, Albania to mark the victory over the Germans. Annually, November 28th is celebrated as Albania’s National Flag Day to celebrate their hard fought independence.
Sam returned to Massachusetts in 1945, married his wife Jean in 1947 and they raised their family in Sharon, MA while operating a foreign car shop. Sam and his wife have six children; Diane (husband Peter) of Hull, MA; Kristine of Sandwich, MA; Linda of Gulfport, FL; Martha of Connecticut; Ruth (husband Ted) of Hull, MA; Michael of Palm Springs, CA; and he is blessed with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His brother, Bill Simollari, United States Air Force, of Stoughton, MA, attended the ceremony, along with Sam’s friend, Commander Ron Nasson, Albanian American War Veterans of Boston, USA.
Thank you OSS Society for honoring the historic accomplishments made by members of the OSS during World War II.
The photographs provided are credited to the office of Congressman Lynch and have been approved for distribution by the Simollari family.