"It was scary," said the 90-year-old World War II veteran. "Coming from a strict Italian family, I knew nothing about war."
Bordonaro is one of roughly 2 million remaining World War II U.S. veterans, who along with veterans of other wars, will be honored today for protecting American freedom.
Bordonaro, born in New York City, was drafted in 1942 at age 22. Other than his older brother in the Navy, no other relative had served in the military.
"I didn't know what was going to happen, and I didn't know where I was going," he said, adding his family was upset and worried.
Two years later, he was with the Army's 30th Infantry Division as they invaded Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 11, 1944, and eventually participated in the Battle of St. Lo.
Bordonaro and his division went through France, Belgium, Holland and eventually made it to Germany. In the process, Bordonaro said he lost "plenty of buddies."
A mishap in a secret mission to attack the Germans ended with the Infantry being hit with friendly fire. "That was a really bad situation," he said, describing the fire as coming down like rain drops. "We lost a lot of men."
Bordonaro received a Purple Heart for his injuries.
The business of war is not a glamourous affair, Bordonaro said. He and his fellow soldiers didn't shower for 49 days and "were lucky to get a meal."
It was too dangerous to bring hot meals to soldiers on the front lines, so Bordonaro said the men survived on Cracker Jack and chocolate bars.
"You just did what you had to do," he said. "It wasn't pleasant, that's for sure."
While serving, Bordonaro said the Allied forces had to learn clever ways to trick the enemy and keep them two steps behind.
Bordonaro said the U.S. soldiers used what's known as clickers to identify a friend or an enemy.
But the Germans quickly picked up Americans' signals and would shake their rifles to imitate the sound of the clickers. The trick sometimes proved deadly to American soldiers.
"The Germans were smart," he said. "They caught onto us quickly."
Bordonaro's service in the Army ended in 1945 after the defeated Axis powers surrendered. After being honorably discharged, Bordonaro said he found it hard to adjust to civilian life.
At nights after the war, he would hear sirens in the middle of the night and would wake up. "That bothered me for a long time," he said.
He also said he kept quiet about his war experiences.
"I never spoke about it much at all," he said. "It brings tears to your eyes. When you lose somebody, it hurts."
Bordonaro continued on with this life, despite the hardships. He married his wife, the late Domenica, in 1946 and went to radio school.
He eventually became a supervisor of employees who created chassis used in the radio and TV industry.
He stayed in the industry for 10 years and later opened a barbershop and hair salon with his wife. The Bordonaros operated Casa Bianca out of their home, which allowed them to spend time with their four children.
The couple eventually moved to Hickory Flat in 1991 to be closer to their family, which has grown to include eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion Post 45 in Canton.
Along with this older brother, Bordonaro's oldest son, Sal Jr., and a grandson served in the Navy.
Bordonaro has several keepsakes that reminds him of his service to his country, such as a Nazi flag, a clicker, sand from Omaha beach, a Bible and an American flag. The American flag reminded him and other soldiers "what we were fighting for."
While Bordonaro said he's come to terms with what happened during World War II, he only talks about his experiences if he's asked about them.
He and friend and fellow World War II veteran Al Hall visit local schools and talk to students about their experiences. The reaction has been the same at each school, he said.
"They are very smart," he said of the school children. "They listen intently and want to know about everything."
While people are fascinated by his stories about the war, he hopes people stop and remember the bigger sacrifices that were made to keep Americans safe.
And today, he said, is the perfect time to reflect on the freedom Americans enjoy because of the sacrifices made by veterans.
"Freedom is not free," he said. "You have to fight for it."