A big band coastie and his Italian prisoners go to town

Tony Agresta in a Coast Guard band in Charleston, N.C., marches during Victory in Europe (VE) Day, May 8, 1945.

During World War II, our armed forces had a large presence in Charleston, South Carolina, and the U.S. Coast Guard was no exception, noted Petty Officer 1st Class William Bleyer in a story for the Coast Guard’s official blog.

“A crew member on the Coast Guard boats patrolling the harbor was a young, aspiring big band musician named Tony Agresta,” Bleyer wrote. “Agresta was reflective of the diverse array of people which made up the U.S. military during WWII. The son of an Italian immigrant from Salerno, he had grown up in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and quickly developed a reputation as an outstanding trombone player.”

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