Granville Then & Now – Wilson speaks on ‘Sully’s Squad’ at Pember

A few years ago, Granville native Kevin Wilson wrote and published a book, titled “Sully’s Squad.” On Nov. 4, he gave a presentation about this book to an audience at the Pember Library in Granville.

The book is named for Wilson’s uncle, Sullivan “Sully” Fringi, who was born in Granville in 1918 as Salvatore Fringi. He was the oldest of five children of John and Elenora Fringi, Italian immigrants who came to America separately and met in Granville. There was a trend at the time to Americanize foreign names, and Salvatore was later changed to Sullivan. He enjoyed sports and school. In 1935, Fringi’s father died, and he became the “man of the house.” He stayed in school, however, graduating from Granville High School in 1937.

The following year, Fringi enlisted in the Army. He served for what was to be a three-year commitment ending Dec. 8, 1941. It was not to be, due to the attack on Pearl Harbor the day before and the declaration of war by Congress against Japan on Dec. 8, following President Roosevelt’s “infamy” speech. With America now at war, Fringi stayed in the Army. He continued as a combat engineer within Company A of the First Infantry Division (called the “Big Red One”). Fringi served in North Africa, and then in Sicily, where he was killed in action on July 21, 1943.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Granville was partly named in Fringi’s honor upon its founding in 1943, as Falvey-Fringi Post No. 1653. After the war was over, he was returned to Granville. His funeral occurred Aug. 21, 1948, and he was buried at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery on the Middle Granville Road.

“Sully’s Squad” was published in late 2019; it is available locally at Hicks Orchard and the Slate Valley Museum, along with a copy at the Pember Library. The book is historical fiction, narrated through the experiences of Arty, a 15-year-old boy from Saratoga Springs. He enlisted as a young man and is assigned to a squad of fictional infantry soldiers who landed and battled through the island of Sicily (Operation Husky). The book includes a fictionalized version of a Sergeant “Sully” with a different surname. Granville also gets name-checked at some point in the book.

During the presentation held at the Pember, Wilson spoke of his background, how he learned of his family history, and how he decided to write a book. Wilson had several goals by writing the “Sully’s Squad” novel. He wanted to make a tribute to his late uncle Salvatore Fringi, and all who gave the ultimate sacrifice in war. Concerned about the disrespect for the American flag in recent years, he wanted to remind all of us to remember those who fought to uphold our freedoms, symbolized by the flag. Wilson wanted to contribute to the book genre of young adult historical fiction, in a way that is especially suited for use in schools, considering the importance of history in education.

Wilson also had some ideas he worked to convey through the book. One is that the harsh reality of war serves as a grim reminder that despite the many video games loosely about wars that have been released in recent years, war is not a video game. Another is to not forget the sacrifices of the families behind every soldier. Furthermore, he encourages those to learn from their relatives who have served. There are other ideas in the book; Wilson leaves it to the reader to discern them through reading.

The event was attended by some interested area residents. Refreshments were provided and copies of the book were available for purchase. There was also an opportunity to have the book autographed by Wilson. All who attended enjoyed the presentation. Wilson made a return appearance to Granville on Nov. 18 to speak to the ninth graders at Granville High School, who are reading “Sully’s Squad” in their English classes.

By writing “Sully’s Squad,” Wilson has bridged the gap that tends to exist between the young generation and historical events. Through the presentations, Wilson has driven home his aims for the book, as well as his deep-rooted connection to Granville, a heritage of which he is very proud. Many thanks to Kevin Wilson for being available to visit Granville and enlighten community members and students alike on the background and origin of his book “Sully’s Squad”.

+ + +

Today, Nov. 24, is the annual celebration of Thanksgiving. Many in the area will travel near or far as family members convene to spend the holiday together, and feast on meals headed by dishes of turkey or ham with many side dishes to delight appetites.

Thanksgiving has another purpose, of giving thanks and being thankful for the good things going on and good people in people’s lives. And while one should be thankful for family get-togethers and the food at said events, there is also more to be thankful for.

Here in the Granville area, we’re thankful for those who have chosen the area for their home, whether as a place to raise a family, relocate an already established family, to retire to, or as a summer home; and for those who continue to stay in the area.

We’re thankful for those who have opened or purchased businesses in the Granville area, who diligently work hard to serve their clientele and keep up their standards, whether it’s food, products, or services; and those who support these local businesses whenever possible.

We’re thankful for those who support efforts at the Granville schools, such as parents in the PTO or athletic booster groups, students in sports or organizations, and support from community members; for those who support our athletes at their games regardless of whether they win or lose the game, with messages of encouragement for the losses and messages of congratulations and excitement for the wins.

We’re thankful for the calendar events that happen in the Granville area through the year, from the town wide yard sale in May to the Lighted Tractor Parade in December, and all in between and beyond; and for the organizers who put in the hard work and effort in arranging these events and making them happen.

Most importantly, we’re thankful for the community spirit of the people of the Granville area, the hard work of local clubs and organizations and the people who are members of those groups, those who volunteer in local efforts, the pitching in of community members to help others, and the support of positive efforts done to better the Granville area.