article was written by my grandson, Daniel Panebianco, who is in the
tenth grade. This was part of an English project/ROTC contest. There
were many submissions with only two selected as winners. They were both
read at the Matthews, NC Veterans Day Memorial. The two winners
were also awarded $100 from the ROTC. Dan decided to return his $100
back to the ROTC. The local ROTC said it would be used to help support
local veteran’s families in need.
Soon we will be celebrating Veteran’s Day.
This is the one day a year set aside as a day that Americans can
honor all the men and women who have served our country and protected
democracy here and around the world. Democracy, in our minds, is synonymous with freedom.
Freedom should be the light of all people and yet this is not the
case for so much of the world’s population.
The problem with freedom is that there is a price to pay and
nothing that is truly good ever comes for free.
Freedom and democracy may be all people’s right but with every
right there is responsibility. Thanks
to the soldiers who never waiver in their desire to protect our freedom
and are willing to put their most valuable possession, their lives, on
the line for it, so we can continue to live in this great country, not
afraid to speak our minds, worship as we please, and to live for free.
I believe as Americans we are honored with the privilege to live
in the United States and with that privilege comes our responsibility to
protect the freedom given to us. Our soldiers, present and past, do this everyday by their
strength and bravery to face whatever is threatening to destroy freedom
here and abroad.
Veteran’s Day was
originally called Armistice Day and was created on November 11, 1918
when the peace treaty was signed after World War I. Armistice Day’s name then changed to Veterans Day in 1954
but was still to honor the soldiers who fought to protect our land.
Many soldiers have lost their lives fighting to keep America safe
from its enemies. Every
year on the same date government offices, some businesses, and schools
close down in order to honor these heroes who serve our country in order
to keep us all safe from harm.
Without those brave men and women who serve our country we
wouldn’t have a democracy. Democracy
(also known as freedom) is a right from persecution with the right to
worship and believe what we want. For
many years, countries have tried to destroy our freedom but have failed
because soldiers are willing to take up arms to fight for the right to
live free. Freedom, unfortunately, comes at a price.
Many soldiers have lost their lives fighting in wars.
This is the price we have to pay to keep our country safe from
As Americans, we are
privileged to be part of the United States.
However, with every privilege comes a great responsibility and
that is to keep our country away from opposing threats.
Soldiers give us hope and pride that our country will be safe
because of their heroic actions in putting themselves in harms way to
allow us to live free. Soldiers
stare death in the face every single day just to keep America the way it
is now. Those who have
given their lives will be honored and remembered forever for their
is America’s tribute to our soldiers, past, present, and future, who
always do the right thing, and who know the ultimate sacrifice they may
have to pay, and yet they are willing to go and get the job done. No one expressed this belief of responsibility to freedom as
well as John Fitzgerald Kennedy did in his Inaugural Address when he
said, “ Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that
we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any
friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of
Liberty.” So, on behalf of all Americans, it is our turn to salute our
soldiers with gratitude and appreciation this November 11, 2008."
webmaster is very proud of his grandson Dan, who has already learned, it
is better to give than receive. Keep up the good work Dan.
FAREWELL TO BRIGADIER GENERAL FELIX L. SPARKS
a member of Company “K”, 157th Regiment, 45th
Infantry Division, I was under the leadership of one of the best
combat officers during World War II. Brigadier General Felix L. Sparks
was a fearless, compassionate and capable combat officer. I spent quite
a bit of time under the General’s command on Anzio, Reipertswiller and
the odds against him, his battalion surrounded by the Germans, and he a
Lt. Col. Sparks at the time, got into a tank to rescue several of his
men. Through his heroism, he was able to save a few of his men. For his
bravery, Lt. Col. Sparks should have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
your performance during the war years and peacetime was superb and you
will never be forgotten. REST IN PEACE and maybe we will meet
spiritually some day.
Funeral services today for Gen.
Article Last Updated: 10/03/2007 04:14:12 AM MDT
The funeral for Brig. Felix Sparks was held on Oct. 2, 2007.
(THE DENVER POST | JOHN PRIETO)
DENVER — Funeral services were held Tuesday for Felix Sparks,
who as a 27-year-old lieutenant colonel, led the liberation of the
main camp at Dachau, one of Hitler's infamous concentration camps,
In his postwar career, Sparks served as a Colorado district
attorney, a Colorado Supreme Court justice, Colorado's natural
resources director and as commanding general of the Colorado National
In 2001, at the dedication of the Colorado Army National Guard's
new Centennial Armory in his honor, men who once called him a
commander lauded Sparks.
"As I talk about Gen. Sparks, I describe him as the epitome
of courage, compassion, leadership and command ability," said Van
T. Barfoot, who earned the Medal of Honor
The casket of Felix Sparks is saluted Tuesday by a National
Guard officer at the funeral for the brigadier general who led
the Colorado National Guard until his retirement. (Post / John
while under Sparks' command.
Sparks commanded the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Regiment of the
45th Division when it rolled into the Dachau area.
Sparks' troops were horrified when they discovered 39 rail cars
full of 2,000 Holocaust victims, nude and gaunt from starvation.
In civilian life, he was director of the Colorado Water
He was among those who helped create the systems of reservoirs,
pipes and pumps that bring Western Slope water to the Front Range. He
wrote Colorado's groundwater law and was an expert on the Fryingpan-Arkansas
trans-mountain water-diversion project.
Before being on the Water Conservation Board, he was a Colorado
Supreme Court Justice.
Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939
A Colorado Life
Retired Brig. General and former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Felix
Sparks and his wife of 60 years, Mary, pose with portraits of themselves
taken at various stages of his military career which began before WWII.
From left: a wedding portrait taken in 1941; a portrait taken in 1961;
and a 1942 portrait taken when he was a captain. He was a member of the
157th Infantry unit. (Post / Glenn Asakawa)
General and jurist was a born leader
Denver Post Staff Writer
Felix Sparks, who distinguished himself in civilian and military careers, died Monday at
St. Anthony Central Hospital. He was 90.
A service will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Gov. Bill Ritter has ordered that all Colorado and U.S. flags be lowered to half-staff Tuesday
in honor of Sparks.
"He was a giant in Colorado," former Gov. Dick Lamm said.
Sparks was a World War II hero, rescuing five wounded American soldiers who were surrounded
by German soldiers. He helped liberate Dachau concentration camp and, after the war,
helped reshape the Colorado National Guard.
A brigadier general, he headed the Colorado National Guard.
For decades he was director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Sparks was among those who helped create the "systems of reservoirs, pipes and pumps that
bring Western Slope water to the Front Range," according to a 1998 Denver Post story.
Sparks is credited with writing the Colorado groundwater law, the Post article said, and was an
expert on the Fryingpan-Arkansas trans-mountain water-diversion project.
Sparks served under several governors, and his views on Colorado water didn't always jibe with
those of the governors or of the Colorado congressional delegation.
Sparks "stood his ground and stood it knowledgeably," said Lyle Kyle, former director of the
Colorado Legislative Council.
"Colorado can never repay Felix for the way he protected Colorado water," Lamm said. "I think he
would have fought a duel to save Colorado water for Coloradans."
Sparks showed the same backbone in the military.
"Whether in crisis or combat, he was looked to as a rock, a leader," said retired Maj. Gen. Mason
Whitney of Centennial, former adjutant general of Colorado.
"He was rough and gruff but had a good heart," said Jack Goldman, who had been a prisoner
Goldman doesn't know if Sparks was among the soldiers who rescued him, but the two became
friends 25 years ago. For many years they gave lectures to schools, colleges and civic groups about
the liberation of Nazi camps.
"He was a tremendous Coloradan," said Jack Hallowell of Lakewood, who served under Sparks
in the war.
Felix Sparks was born Aug. 2, 1917, in San Antonio and graduated from high school in Miami, Ariz.
He earned his pre-law degree at the University of Arizona. After serving in the armed forces, he
earned his law degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
He practiced law in Delta, said his daughter, Jean Whitehurst of Arvada.
In 1941 he married Mary F. Blair, whom he had met when they were in school in Miami.
Before joining the Water Conservation Board, Sparks was a Colorado Supreme Court justice.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Sparks is survived by two sons, Kirk Sparks of
Westminster and Scott Sparks of Montrose; and another daughter, Kim Pumroy of Denver; six
grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Staff writer Virginia Culver can be reached at 303-954-1223 or email@example.com.
A TRIBUTE TO ROBERT VORPHAL
My Friend and
DOB – 5/16/1925
DOD – 5/11/2006
I first met Bob Vorphal shortly
after the invasion of southern France. He was in a long line of
replacements and I picked him to join our mortar squad as the first
gunner. I could not have made a better selection. He was one of the
finest men I ever met. We shared the same foxholes from August 1944
until January 15, 1945 when I was hit with shrapnel. Five days later,
1/20/45, Bob and six rifle companies were taken prisoner.
In 1947, Bob and his friend
Father Weiler, pastor of the
church that Bob attended, were
making a trip to Florida and decided to make a stop in Philadelphia to
visit us. We all went out to dinner and had a great time. From that
point on Bob and I kept in touch. Another happy event was when Bob
visited us at our home for a week. Approximately 1957 our family, my
wife and two daughters, visited Bob at his home in Chicago. We saw each
other annually at the 157th Regiment reunions. Between
reunions, we chatted on the phone. Not a month went by without a phone
call to each other.
One of the saddest days of my
lifetime was the early part of May 2006, when I received a phone call
from Joan Vorphal, Bob’s sister, to tell me Bob had passed on. What a
shock. The bond between soldiers is like no other. He definitely
will be missed by everyone who knew him.
God Bless and Rest in Peace.
S.S. Pd. 4
The following article was recorded on
tape by Chris Dosen. I requested a copy and Chris was kind enough
to oblige as I wanted to make it a part of my website.
An Interesting Perspective On WWII
I had the privilege of interviewing
Robert Vorphal to learn about his World War II experience. My
relationship to him is that he is my great aunt’s brother. Bob
remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor. At that time, he was surprised,
just like the rest of America, at the sudden assault. He was a sophomore
in high school when this incident happened. Even though he didn’t want
to be, he was drafted into the United States Army after high school
graduation. Bob explained that some of his classmates at the time were
volunteering to sign up before they graduated from high school.
Bob believed in the justness of WWII. He thought the U.S. had to
fight back and protect people all around the world from unfair treatment
and attacks. He believes it shortened the length of the war, and it made
the Japanese give up their fight. He felt the bomb was necessary.
Bob served in the infantry branch of the United States Army. His
period of service began at Camp Wolters, Texas. He was assigned there
for basic training. It began in January of 1944, and it lasted for 16
weeks. During training, Bob was taught how to handle a rifle, the
carbine, the BAR, (automatic rifle), mortars, the 30-caliber machine
gun, and grenades. He explained that the training also taught him how to
march and eat army food. He thought the army food took a bit of getting
used to, as it was quite different from home-cooked meals. Bob thought
the most difficult part of switching from a civilian’s life to a
soldier’s life was the regimented style.
Upon completion of basic training, Private Vorphal was sent
aboard a ship to Naples, Italy. He was one of many soldiers waiting to
replace a fellow soldier in a regiment. His wait in Italy lasted between
three and four weeks. From there, he was sent to Southern France.
major battle that Bob participated in was the Battle of the Bulge. It
started on December 26, 1944. His regiment was fighting German soldiers
in the Reipertswiller Forest in Alsace. The land was being fought over
between Germany and France for a long time. German soldiers had
surrounded his regiment for a week. They were low on supplies and no
more were being sent in. Also, the winter was the coldest that area had
experienced in 35 years. Freezing temperatures and extremely limited
supplies made it difficult to continue fighting. Approximately 400
soldiers were captured on January 20, 1945 in Reipertswiller Forest. Bob
became a prisoner of war.
Bob was sent to a prison camp in Lindbergh, Germany. Fifty to
sixty prisoners of war were stuffed into a boxcar. The trip to the
prison camp took two to three days. During that time, the prisoners of
war had no food, and they had to use a garbage can for a toilet.
Private Vorphal was then transferred by boxcar to another prison
camp in Fallingbostel, Germany. There were 250 men stuffed in a cold
barracks, and they all slept on wooden bunks. Each bunk had three beds,
and two men slept in each bed. They had no pillows and only two blankets
to try and make it as comfortable as possible. There were only two, bare
light bulbs hanging from the ceiling and no heat during this frozen
winter. They were given a slice of bread and a bowl of soup to eat once
a day. The Germans scheduled an early roll call every morning. There was
one outdoor latrine for all 250 men. Going outside for roll call and
walking to the latrine was their only exercise. They spent the rest of
the day sitting around with no activity.
Bob’s imprisonment lasted 100 days. At this time, the Eighth
British Armored liberated the prisoners.
After being liberated, Bob was flown to an American hospital in
Oxford, England. There he was treated for Jaundice, a yellow skin color.
Bob stayed in the hospital for two or three weeks. Next he went to
Gardiner Hospital, a service hospital in Hyde Park, Illinois. He
remained there for two or three weeks.
then sent to Fort Lee, Virginia. He served two months in this location.
In December of 1945, Corporal Vorphal was discharged from the U.S. Army.
He was awarded several medals. Bob received the Bronze Star and the
Combat Infantry Badge. They were given to him for being in combat. He
also received the Good Conduct Medal, which was given for good behavior.
In addition, he has the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
with two Oak Leaf Clusters. The clusters signify the battles that fought
When asked about friendships made in World War II, Bob said that
it wasn’t an easy time to make friends. He was closest to his sergeant
in the regiment, and he still keeps in contact with him today. This
man’s name is Sergeant Panebianco. Bob explained that his sergeant
told him that his last name meant “white bread”.
Since the end of the war Bob has been living in Chicago. For the
past five years, he has met with 15 to 20 other World War II service men
for breakfast every other week. He attends ex-prisoner of war meetings
every two months in the Chicago area. These meetings help keep him up to
date with benefits for prisoners of war.
In 2004 Bob had another interesting experience. He met Fred Olivi.
During their conversation, Bob learned that Fred was on the plane from
which the second Atomic Bomb was dropped.
Today when asked about the draft, Bob feels that it should still
be in place. He thinks that not enough people are volunteering to fight
in the wars taking place now.
This experience helped me to learn fascinating information
about World War II. I’m thankful to Corporal Robert Vorphal for
allowing me the privilege of interviewing him and for the part he played
in protecting the United States of America and saving people all around
Stanley Richardson, pictured above (Center)
Stanley Richardson, third from left, middle row
Stanley Richardson, Left
Our good friend and author, David L. Israel, has
written "The Day the Thunderbird Cried". The book is Absorbing,
Informative and A Great Read. I found the book very interesting.
Medford man's book documents the massacre of Germans at Dachau
By JOHN DARLING
for the Mail Tribune
IN the waning weeks of World War II, U.S. soldiers liberating Dachau concentration camp outside Munich, Germany, came upon thousands of emaciated corpses. They became sickened and enraged and -- in violation of the Geneva Convention on rules of combat -- summarily executed many German guards and SS officers.
The little-known massacre of unarmed noncombatants on April 29, 1945, is the subject of a book by former World War II Army intelligence officer David Israel, 76, of Medford. His book is titled, "The Day the Thunderbird Cried."
The thunderbird, a Native American totem of happiness, was the insignia of the 45th Infantry Division, whose I Company (of the 157th Infantry) members committed the act.
Israel's book is based on interviews with ten soldiers who witnessed or carried out the executions; a "Stars and Stripes" military correspondent who was present; and an inspector general's report, called "Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau," which was kept secret until declassified in 1992.
"It's a very touchy subject," said Israel. "These guys had been through over 500 days of heavy combat with a 75 percent casualty rate. They'd seen a lot of death and killing. But when they went in and saw these corpses, just skin and bones, not even resembling human beings, many of them cracked. They went berserk."
The killings began when I Company soldiers came upon 30 railway cars containing 2,400 corpses a half mile from the camp, said Israel, who arrived at Dachau with an intelligence team four months after liberation.
"They weren't prepared to see that and it drove some of them past the ability to reason," said retired Army Lt. Col. Hugh Foster, 56, of Carlisle, Pa., a researcher on the incident and a source in Israel's book.
Four Germans wearing medical armbands approached the GIs to surrender, Foster said in a phone interview. But the company commander, Lt. William Walsh, yelled at them, "You call yourselves medical officers?" He then pushed them in a boxcar with the corpses and killed them with his .45 pistol, Foster said.
Walsh, a source in Israel's book, has since died.
The company segregated several hundred SS officers from other camp personnel, lined them up against a wall in the coal yard outside the camp, placed machine guns in front of them, said Israel, "and blew them away."
The firing was quickly halted, he added, by Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, commander of the 3rd Battalion, who recognized a war crime was being committed.
"It was a spontaneous thing. There was no order to do it," said Foster. "There's a lot of conjecture about whether the guns were set up to control them or to execute them. The most charitable explanation is that the Germans saw the machine guns being set up and some of them ran, then the machine gunners opened fire and everyone joined in with rifles and small arms."
Because many of the Germans dropped and played dead, only 17 were killed, Israel said. Forty others were later tried at Dachau on war crimes charges but few ended up being executed.
Still photos and movies were taken of the killings by soldiers of the Army Signal Corps, and when higher-ups in England viewed them, an inspector general was ordered into Dachau to interview participants and witnesses in the days following the incident.
The film disappeared into government archives, said Israel, and the report was sent to 3rd Army commander Gen. George S. Patton, who "called it a bunch of junk, burned all the papers on his desk and said get back to work."
At first unable to find photos to back up his book, Israel finally located a Signal Corps soldier in New York who told Israel he possessed, in his garage, undeveloped photos of the killings.
He processed them and gave Israel prints showing a prone machine-gunner, dozens of Germans crumpled against a wall and Sparks making a clear "halt" gesture with his left hand while pointing a .45 pistol in the air, barrel slide locked back (meaning the magazine was expended).
The Pentagon never quite believed Sparks' story that he stopped the killings, so he was never able to remove the cloud of doubt that he may have participated, said Israel.
Sparks left the Army after the war, entering law and eventually becoming a Colorado Supreme Court justice.
"When I gave the photos to Sparks, he said, 'Yes that's me, there's the map in my pocket.' He just broke down because he was finally proven innocent."
Israel began hearing about the killings at Army reunions in the late 1980s. In the early years of his research, he was sometimes suspected by participants of being a spy for the Army, which -- for all the veterans knew -- might still prosecute them, he said.
Israel made it clear to participants in the killings that his book and talks intend no judgment of the American soldiers as war criminals.
"All war is a crime and they became part of the insanity," Israel said. "I've never talked to a GI who didn't totally understand what they did (at Dachau)."
Foster said he believes the killings were a war crime and should have been delved into deeper.
"Armed soldiers aren't supposed to do that -- but soldiers had not heard about the Holocaust yet, and many were literally driven insane by it. It was all set aside because we were just finishing fighting a war to stop people from killing and no one wanted to look at us doing the same thing."
The machine-gunner at the Dachau killings, John Lee, then 19, now dead, described the mental state of the soldiers (but not the massacre) in a newspaper story years ago.
"It was just stunning, believe me," he was quoted as saying. "Nobody spoke a word. Guys were just looking at each other and were sick to their stomachs and all of a sudden there was anger, fierce anger. Every guy was literally crying and bawling. Everybody was sick to their stomachs and couldn't eat, couldn't sleep."
Israel interviewed Lee for his book.
Officers at the liberation were unable to prevent further killings of unarmed noncombatants, said Foster, and soldiers of both the 42nd and 45th divisions summarily executed somewhere between 15 and 60 more unarmed Germans in small groups.
One inspector general interview had an American soldier saying an execution of eight Germans was triggered by a German reaching for a concealed gun.
The inspector general's report was sent back by the 7th Army for clarification on "the effects of extended combat on the soldiers," said Foster, with finalization delayed till well after war's end.
It was mis-filed and lost "accidentally or maybe on purpose" for 47 years, until dug out by Foster in military archives in Carlisle, Israel said. "It was squelched by the Army because the war was over and people only wanted to get back to their homes, families, jobs and lives."
US troops massacred German prisoners at Dachau
Felix Sparks's soldiers liberating Dachau. Surrendered German soldiers were stood against a wall and massacred.
Excerpt from "The Day the Thunderbird Cried," by David Israel of Medford:
"SUDDENLY, a huge shout arose from among the railway cars. The 18-year-old walked over to see what the commotion was about. As he neared the cars, he involuntarily dropped his rifle, which for the past nine months had become an extension of his body. Even when he slept, his hands never left his rifle. He didn't stop to pick the piece up … his eyes were glued to the railway car. His mouth was open, but he couldn't breathe. An overwhelming stench covered the whole area. He found himself moving forward as if in a dream. He heard himself saying, 'No, it can't be … it can't be. Please, God, make it be just a dream. Dear God, make it just a dream. Please, don't let it be for real.'
"Up ahead, the shouting grew louder and louder. GIs were climbing into one of the railway cars. 'Maybe it's just these few cars that are like this … maybe the others are different. Jesus, I hope they're different. Maybe that's why they're shouting so much.' He was breathing with great difficulty and his eyes automatically peered into each car as he passed … silently praying that the horror would stop. But, they were all the same. Packed as solid as could be with human bodies … arms, legs, pointed in all directions. Some were naked, some in torn, striped remnants of cloth. All looking like skeletons with bones sticking out from every part of the body. Some cars had only women, some children. But most were crammed full of bodies that had once been men.
"As he neared the car where the GIs were, he passed a car with all young girls. One kid had her head thrown back; she had dark hair and her mouth was open. She was on top of the pile, like she had been gasping for a last breath of air. Even in this grotesque scene of death, she looked beautiful. The 18-year-old didn't know it at the time, but he would see that face before him for the rest of his life. Every night as he lay in bed before sleep mercifully came to his aid."
When author talks to high school students, they 'get it' that war is sheer hell
In talks at Ashland Middle School, Crater High School in Central Point and a high school in Dachau itself, David Israel said it's not hard to get across the message that war, far from being "Rambo glory," is sheer hell.
"The impact is pretty phenomenal," said Crater social studies teacher Bud LeFever. "The kids are in tears. They want to get his autograph and take pictures with him. It's one of those moments in education when you see them really 'get it' and come alive."
Students have heard about the Holocaust, he added, but it wasn't until they saw a film of the death camps and bodies, then heard firsthand from David Israel and Isabella Lider (survivor of Auschwitz, living in Medford) that they could understand what war really is.
"David doesn't have to present an anti-war message," LeFever said. "All you have to do is present the images and facts and it says -- this is how horrible war is and you don't want to do this. Then you've got not just the facts, but the feelings. The fact that battle-hardened soldiers fought their way across Europe and then lost it at Dachau, that tells the story about war."
The class capped the unit on the Holocaust with a visit to the veterans domiciliary (the old Camp White training camp of World War II) in White City and the Eagle Point National Cemetery.
THE NEW COLORADO MILITARY HISTORY MUSEUM
Our good friend, Flint Whitlock, author
of "THE ROCK OF ANZIO", is involved in establishing the COLORADO MILITARY
HISTORY MUSEUM -- the first museum of its kind to focus primarily on, as the name hints,
the military history of Colorado. Naturally, there will be a major exhibit on the 157th
IR. Although we are several years away from opening (we have to raise a few million
dollars first -- fund raising efforts will start in a few months as soon as our 501 (c)
(3) is OK'd) it's not too soon to begin soliciting objects, photos, and other memorabilia
that is WWII -- related and/or 157th specific. Anyone who wants to contribute money will
be most welcome. Donations and Artifacts may be sent to, Colorado Military History
Museum, P.O. Box 201714, Denver, CO 80220-7714. Our intent is to make this a
world-class museum. We already have a donation of some 50 military vehicles plus hundreds
of uniforms, and other equipment, so we're well on our way. But we really want our 157th
exhibit to showcase the regiment's history and the magnificent men who served in it.
Persons wanting more information can
contact Flint at: firstname.lastname@example.org I want to
extend best wishes to Flint in his new endeavor. Upon completion, I know the state of
Colorado will be very proud of its new Military History Museum.
Fifty years after the
invasion of Anzio Beachhead, January 22,1994, the inauguration of the Anzio Beachhead
Museum took place. Mr. Amerigo Salvini is the Secretary and Historian of the museum. His
email address is: Amerigo Salvinighigo_44@yahoo.it
(email@example.com). The museum has a free public library and a video section for
journalists, students, and historical universities. Mr. Salvini would appreciate
memorabilia from members of the 45th Division, such as, uniforms, photographs, patches, or
any other items from the Anzio era. Written experiences and documentations are also
welcome. I am personally donating the 45th Division Book, The Fighting
Forty-Fifth, copyright 1946, in memory of a dear friend, Harry L. Billela, who
served in Company G, 157th Regiment, 45th Infantry
Division. He was wounded twice on Anzio. The book will become part of the museum library.
Any living Anzio Veteran or family members of
a deceased veteran who wish to donate memorabilia, please send items to:
c/o Ufficio Turismodi Anzio (I.A.T)
Piazza Pia n ° 1900042 Anzio (rm) Italy.
The museum is operated by volunteers and is open
four days per week. This is not a profit making endeavor. Mr. Salvini wrote Thank
you again for your assistance to your and our museum and remember that we are very proud
to conserve your lifes memory in Anzio and teach to the young people the
sacrifices of the USA soldiers during the Anzio Campaign for our freedom and
The website URL for the Anzio Beachhead Museum is
Anzio Veterans or families of deceased Anzio Veterans please do not
discard any items pertaining to the Anzio Campaign. This memorabilia will be of great
value and appreciated if sent to the museum. This is and will be a great memoriam to any
veteran who fought on Anzio soil.
Albert R. Panebianco
About the Cruisers Name, about the Battle of Anzio:
ANZIO (CG68) is the second Navy ship to bear the name. The first was CVE-57, a World War
II escort carrier. ANZIO is named after the WWII amphibious assaults on the beachheads at
Anzio and Nettuno, Italy by the American Fifth Army, Sixth Corps, and the British First
Infantry Division on January 22, 1944.
late 1943, the Allied campaign to liberate Italy from the hands of the Germans was at a
stalemate along the "Gustav Line," a natural stronghold of mountainous terrain
stretching across the country just north of Naples.
Gen. Mark Clark, commanding the American Fifth Army, ordered amphibious assaults on the
beachheads at Anzio and Nettuno, north of the Gustav Line, to clear the road to Rome.
Forty thousand Allied troops of the American Fifth Army, Sixth Corps and the British First
Infantry Division were landed on Jan. 22, 1944.
After initial success, the Allies were pinned down on the beachhead by a vastly superior
German force. The Germans eventually committed 80,000 additional troops to the Italian
campaign to "push the Allies back into the sea."
Through sheer bravery and heroism, the Allies held the beachhead. Finally, with long
awaited reinforcements, the Allies broke out in late May and ultimately marched
victoriously into Rome, the Eternal City, in June 1944.
The strategic importance of the Battle of Anzio in the liberation of Italy is well
documented. The campaign's contribution to the overall Allied effort in Europe, however,
is often underestimated. The two German corps engaged on the Anzio front were originally
destined for Normandy. The success of the Allied landings on the beaches in France in June
1944 were due largely to the tenacity of the Allied forces at Anzio.
But the price of this crucial victory was high. Allied forces suffered nearly 28,000
casualties. In one measure of the courage and sacrifice of those who fought there, 22
Americans were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the most of any single battle of
World War II.
ANZIO's name honors those who served in that great battle. She
has deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, Adriatic Sea, Red Sea, and Arabian Gulf with
the EISENHOWER Battle Group; transited the Panama Canal enroute to Hawaii to participate
in the Mountain Top Joint Exercise; and recently returned from her first deployment to the
Baltic Sea and Northern Europe. Since her commission, Anzio has been the proud winner of
six Atlantic Fleet Battle Efficiency Awards. Captain Mark C. Nesselrode, United States
Navy, is the Commanding Officer of the Anzio (CG68). The ship has a complement of 31
officers and 355 enlisted personnel.
A VISIT WITH BILL MAULDIN
My good friend, George Courlas who served with Company
G, 157th Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, during WWII
visited Bill Mauldin, 24 September
2002. George was the recipient of three Purple Hearts. Following is a report of his visit
with the greatest cartoonist of WWII.
After much communication with Mr. Gordon
Dillow, Editor of the Orange County Register
.it was mostly through the internet, I
was given permission and encouragement to visit Mr. Mauldin at the convalescent home in
Newport Beach, California.
For many of you, Newport Beach is a well to-do
town just south of Edison Field in Anaheim where the Angels baseball team will challenge
the San Francisco Giants in the current World Series.
I drove to Newport Beach, which is about 40
miles from my residence in Glendale, California and was welcomed by the head nurse at the
convalescent home. I had my 157th Infantry Regiment hat on, because Mr. Gordon
Dillow had previously warned me that any clothing or insignia might bring a smile to Mr.
Mr. Bill Mauldin was bedridden and was sleeping
but I nudged him a bit and started to talk about my exploits during WWII in Anzio, Italy.
It woke him a bit and he winked at me or perhaps it was my hat
.the hat had the
insignia of the Thunderbird.
I did most of the talking as Mr. Mauldin was a
bit groggy so it seems. He looks good
.has a full head of hair and rather big when
compared to his days in WWII, when he was with the Thunderbird publication. It is my
understanding that Bill Mauldin was a member of the 157th Infantry Regiment
early during his career in the military. I also understand that Bill was a member of
Company I early on.
During the Anzio campaign, it was announced
that Mr. Mauldin was promoted to the Stars and Stripes wherein he left the division for a
level above that.
Mr. Mauldin looks good and healthy. His
condition, I am not allowed to say. He is
about 83/84 years old, I understand. I stayed about 15 minutes visiting. He does not speak
or rather that day, he was not in a speaking mood.
I hope to visit him again and soon. The
location of his convalescent home is not too far and is not out of the way for me, as I am
a frequent freeway participant in that area.
When I plan the next visit, I will give you my
report. I understand from Mr. Gordon Dillow, the Editor who is coordinating all visits
that Mr. Mauldin has many relatives and they have requested that all mention of his
physical condition be kept under wraps. It is a condition that is somewhat
common among the older population.
The home in Newport Beach is most appreciative
of visitations to his room even conversation is sometimes at a minimum. They, the staff
feel it does him good to have visitors, especially those of us who served in the same
Division and Regiment
click on Links and then the Bill Mauldin Link. Read about Friends of Willie and Joe and
the only WWII U.S. Living History Group officially sponsored by Bill Mauldin. Also, there
is an Update on Bill Mauldins Health by Gordon Dillow, Reporter for the Orange
Register. Do not forget to send an email, card, or letter to Bill Mauldin via Gordon
Dillow. Bill will definitely appreciate hearing from you.
My sincere thanks
and best wishes.
WWII hero's service slated for Friday
By Staff reports
MUSKOGEE -- Jack C. Montgomery,
who received the Medal of Honor for single-handedly defeating a unit of Nazi troops during
World War II, will be buried Friday at Fort Gibson National Cemetery.
He died Tuesday in Muskogee at age
A funeral service is scheduled for
1:30 p.m. Friday at Bradley Funeral Home in Muskogee.
"First Lieutenant Jack
Montgomery was a soldier who never sought credit for himself yet was a hero in his own
right," said Maj. Gen. Stephen Cortright, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard.
"With deep respect and
sadness, we say goodbye to his warrior spirit."
A member of Oklahoma's famed 45th
Infantry Division, Montgomery received his medal for heroic actions during a battle in
northern Italy on Feb. 22, 1944.
Leaving the rest of his platoon
behind the safety of a stone wall, the first lieutenant stormed a row of German
machine-gun nests, exposing himself to intense enemy fire.
Returning several times to get
more ammunition from his platoon, Montgomery managed to kill 11 Nazi soldiers and capture
32 others -- all essentially by himself.
After the war, while he was dating
his future wife, Montgomery didn't even bother to mention that he had received the
nation's most prestigious medal -- until one day she noticed the citation hanging on his
"Oh, that's just something I
did back in the war," he told her. "It's no big deal."
He maintained that humility for
the rest of his life.
Friends described him as quiet and
modest, never bragging or seeking out recognition.
After the war, Montgomery turned
aside business opportunities in favor of serving fellow veterans in a job at the Veterans
Affairs office in Muskogee.
"He was one of the finest,
most upright men who ever existed," said retired Lt. Col. Scotty Wells, who served
with Montgomery in the 45th Infantry and became a close friend after the war.
"His motto was `duty, honor,
country' -- not just during the war, but always."
Recognized for being brave and
cool-headed under fire, Montgomery was admired by other soldiers even before the battle
that earned him a Medal of Honor, Wells said.
"This country had millions of
soldiers in the service at that time. He was one of the very best of the best. I never met
a man who was more courageous or more committed to doing his duty," he said.
About a month ago, the 45th
Infantry museum in Oklahoma City opened a special exhibit about Montgomery, featuring the
Class A uniform he wore the day President Franklin Roosevelt pinned the Medal of Honor on
The medal itself remains in the
possession of his family, but before his death, Montgomery expressed his wish that it
eventually be given to the museum for public display.
"His actions not only earned
him our nation's highest honor, but they also earned him a lasting place in our nation's
history," said Michael Gonzales, the museum's curator.
"He was just a shy, quiet,
reserved fellow. Medal of Honor or not, he was a wonderful man to know, and I'm going to
Montgomery grew up in Sallisaw.
Survivors include his wife, Joyce.
His death leaves 2nd Lt. Ernest
Childers, a Broken Arrow resident who also served in the 45th Infantry during World War
II, as the only living Oklahoman to have a Medal of Honor.
Memorial a good
sign for 157th Infantry vets
U.S. 40 rededicated to honor Colorado
By Jim Sheeler
Special to the Denver Post
Thursday, November 15, 2001 - When the men of Colorado's 157th Infantry Division stormed
the beachheads at Sicily and Anzio during World War II, they began a journey that few of
them would survive. On their uniforms they wore an insignia that, decades later, was
55 years after the return of the last soldier, the insignia of the 157th will reappear
along a 486-mile stretch of road crossing the state so many of the soldiers called home,
as U.S. 40 through Colorado is rededicated the 157th Infantry Memorial Highway.
signs, scheduled to be unveiled today, the regimental motto endures underneath the
insignia, emblazoned in gold letters: "Eager for Duty."
think it's going to mean an awful lot to the guys who are still around, and an awful lot
to the widows," said Jack Hallowell, a veteran of the 157th and the group's
historian. "It took a lot of Colorado men from small towns across the state, and
there was a significant impact. We lost a lot of Colorado men."
largely from National Guard outfits throughout Colorado, the regiment later included men
drafted throughout the nation. The 157th spent a staggering 511 days in combat, suffering
more than 5,000 casualties in several major battles on its way from North Africa to the
infamous Dachau concentration camp, which it liberated under the command of Felix Sparks.
signs are beautiful. I'm very gratified," said Brig. Gen. Sparks of Lakewood. "I
spent five years with that regiment, and it's been a major influence in my life. That
insignia has definite meaning. The emblem represents a lot of history."
began pushing for a memorial highway after seeing roads dedicated to other National Guard
units in Texas and Oklahoma. Earlier this year, he started searching for a way to dedicate
a highway to the group, and discovered they already had one.
then-Gov. John Vivian designated U.S. 40 the 157th memorial highway, but the designation
was never permanently acknowledged. Like most returning soldiers at the time, the men of
the 157th were too busy trying to get back to work to worry about war memorials.
stories about the idea appeared in The Denver Post in August, the group raised more than
$3,000 from reader donations along with funds from the sale of 157th-related books and
contributions by the men of the regiment.
two signs will be installed at rest areas east of Hugo and west of Hayden, with more signs
to follow. Underneath the insignia, the 2-by-2-foot signs will carry a historical summary
of the group's achievements.
never too late," Sparks said. "I'm really gratified that it's taken place, even
if it has been a long time. Now it'll last as long as Colorado lasts. And it says to the
children and grandchildren there will always be someone in this state to defend
the 157th is known primarily for its accomplishments in World War II, its ties stretch
back to a time before Colorado was a state, when the First Regiment of Colorado Volunteers
helped defeat Confederate soldiers at Glorietta Pass near Santa Fe. Though the Army
dissolved the 157th infantry after World War II, the group's number was eventually
transferred to the Colorado National Guard's field artillery, which continues to wear the
the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the men and women who remain "Eager for Duty"
were called to action once again, standing guard in Colorado's airports.
crest and colors have a lot of importance to the men of the unit," said Lt. Col.
Thomas Duffy, commander of the 157th's 1st Battalion, who is now stationed at Denver
International Airport. "It's an honor to carry on that crest," he said.
"Maybe we're going to be the next chapter."
meantime, Hallowell plans to take one more road trip, along the highway that belongs to
his buddies, through the places to which so many of them never returned.
I'm driving down the road and I see one of those signs, I'm going to be thinking,
"I'm so pleased,' " Hallowell said.
imagine I'll look out to whomever I am with and say, very proudly, "That's my