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On the Eve of the 72nd Anniversary of the End of WWII, Congressman Brian Higgins Presents Seven Medals to Family of Joseph Allaire, a Navy Ship Photographer, who Witnessed the Surrender of Japan Aboard the USS Missouri

Sep 1, 2017
Press Release
Congressman Higgins Recognizes the Courage of Seven Allaire Brothers Who Served in the Military - Six fought in WWII, one fought in the Korean War, and One Brother Never Made it Home

On the 78th anniversary of the beginning of WWII and the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the end of the war, Congressman Brian Higgins, Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joe Emminger and United States Navy Lieutenant Commander J.T. Redford presented the Allaire family with the medals Joseph E. Allaire earned while fighting for our country aboard the USS Missouri during World War II.

World War II spanned from September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, through September 2, 1945 when Japan surrendered, ending the war.  The U.S. entered the war following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.  Over 318,000 members of the United States Army lost their lives and more than 62,000 members of the United States Navy were killed in action.

“Tomorrow marks 72 years since the end of World War II and today we pause to remember those who served, were wounded, and those who never made it home,” said Congressman Higgins.  “We thank the Allaire family for the incredible sacrifices this band of brothers made and pay tribute to those answering the call to duty today.” 

Supervisor Joe Emminger said, "We honor today the 7-members of the Allaire family who served honorably and bravely in World War II and the Korean War. These were ordinary men, who did extraordinary things, when their country called upon them to serve. We are forever indebted and grateful for the sacrifices they made and to all the members of our armed forces, past and present, who served their county to defend the freedoms we enjoy today."

William W. Allaire and Katherine S. Allaire had seven boys and two girls.  Six of the boys: William, Donald, Edward, Robert, Richard and Joseph fought in WWII, the seventh, Charles Allaire, served in the Korean War. 


Bill, the oldest brother, was born on April 19, 1919.  He attended Bennett High School before entering the United States Army during WWII.  Bill served as a Technician Fifth Class, working as an automotive mechanic while serving nineteen months in Europe.

Shortly before the war ended, his father set up a business to help his sons after the war.  The Allaire Company, located in Buffalo’s historic Ellicott Square Building, produced engravings on medals and plastics.  After the war, Bill and his brother Robert worked with their father at the Allaire Company.  Bill had a wife and three kids.


Don Allaire was the second son who joined the Army National Guard.  He served in Newfoundland where he met his wife who at the time was a member of the Canadian Royal Air Force. They had ten children, including Fr. Barry Allaire who gave the opening prayer at the ceremony in Tonawanda.


Burt Allaire was the third son who signed up to serve during the Second World War and unfortunately the only son who did not make it home.  His troop was participating in a routine supply run over a mountainous village when their plane went down. His remains were never found. 

During the war Edward’s mother, Katherine placed Blue Star Flags in her window, representing each of the Allaire men serving.  Unfortunately, Katherine like too many mothers, endured the pain of losing her son to war, and was left to replace Burt’s Blue Star with a Gold Star. 

Edward Burton Allaire’s sacrifice is forever remembered and his name can be found permanently etched on the WWII Veterans monument at the Town of Tonawanda Municipal Building.

Born on August 22, 1922, Bob Allaire was the fourth son of Katherine and William.   He served in the United States Navy during WWII aboard the USS Betelgeuse (AK-260).  He visited four continents and the strategic Pacific Islands, taking part in the invasions of Sicily, Southern France, and Okinawa, Japan.

After the war, he married and had ten children.  He worked as a Metropolitan Life Insurance salesperson and managed and maintained a real estate partnership in the Town of Tonawanda before retiring in 1981.  He was active in his community volunteering at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church where his children attended school.  He organized basketball teams, church breakfasts, dinners and served as an usher.  He later moved to Hanford Bay and continued volunteering for Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Silver Creek providing many hours of work in the kitchen.  He always believed that good would triumph over bad in society and was willing to do his part to make that happen.  He was an outspoken patriot calling this nation the “greatest country on earth.”


Dick was the fifth Allaire son, born in 1924 and served in the U.S. Navy during WWII.  He was a war-time cryptographer who deciphered codes.  He served at advance bases in England and France.  After the war, he studied law at Canisius College, married and had thirteen children.


Chuck was the seventh son and the only son who served in the Korean War.  From 1950 to 1953 he worked as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate Second Class, serving aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31).  He was a longtime resident of Grand Island and had seven children, twenty-one grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.  He was the last of the brothers to pass away on June 16, 2017. 

Born on January 8, 1926, Joe was the sixth son and the youngest of the brothers to serve in WWII.  Joe Allaire enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 18 and served for over two years.  Seaman Second Class Allaire was a radar operator on the USS Missouri as well as the ship photographer.

The Missouri was a BB-63 battleship commissioned in June 1944 and a member of the Iowa class of “fast battleships,” heavily armed and mobile, and trained to escort aircraft carriers.  Joe fought in the historic battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima, helping to ensure the United States’ victory in World War II.

By the summer of 1945, all the Axis powers besides Japan had surrendered. With the threat of destruction from the Allied powers imminent, the Japanese Emperor surrendered on August 15, 1945 and after a series of negotiations, Japanese officials boarded the USS Missouri and signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945.  People around the world cheered and celebrated the official end of a violent and costly war.

Thanks to Seaman Second Class Joe Allaire and other ship photographers at the time, the historic surrender will forever be documented.  Joe also captured several other historic events during and after the war, including the ports of Istanbul and Athens, and met the Pope in Rome on the day before Easter in 1946.

Mr. Allaire attended Bryant & Stratton College after his time in the military and was a lifelong resident of Western New York.  Like several of his older brothers, Joe worked for the company his father founded.  He married the love of his life, Nancy, and had ten children: Margaret, Bill, Catherine, Joseph, Nancy, Mary, Elizabeth, Maureen, Susan and Patricia.

Joe Allaire’s son, Joseph, contacted Congressman Higgins’ office in an attempt to obtain the medals that his father never received.  Joe Jr. shared the story of his father and uncles’ service and his Dad’s experience witnessing the surrender of Japan.  He brought newspaper articles and photographs to the office eager to retell this incredible family story, reminding us all of the many contributions of Western New Yorks who have served. 

During a ceremony at the Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial at Kenny Field, Congressman Higgins, Supervisor Emminger and representatives from the United States Navy presented Nancy Allaire with the medals her late-husband earned more than 70 years ago. 

The Alliare family received the following seven medals:  

  • The Combat Action Ribbon: given for service under enemy fire while participating in a ground or maritime engagement
  • American Campaign Medal: awarded to honor soldiers who performed military service in the American Theater of Operations during World War II
  • Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal: presented to members of the United States military who served in the Pacific Theater during WWII
  • World War II Victory Medal: established by Congress in 1945 and presented to those who actively served between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946
  • Navy Occupation Service Medal: presented for participation in occupation duty during and/or following World War II
  • Honorable Discharge Button WWII: representing an honorable discharge following service in World War II
  • Honorable Service Lapel Pin:  awarded for service and discharge under honorable conditions

Congressman Higgins said, “With brave skill and talent, Mr. Allaire was able to help protect the American people and our Allies as well as document historic events so that future generations can appreciate the sacrifices made by so many during the war.  On behalf of a grateful nation we are indebted to the Allaire brothers who’ve demonstrated an incredible commitment to family, community and country.”