Testimonies from books or diaries
I was a 20 ½ years old Platoon Sergeant (Technical Sergeant; after a First Sergeant, the most senior Non Commissioned Officer). I had been in the Army 19 Months and had trained with the Division at Camp Hale Swift Texas, near Bastrop. As Platoon Sergeant I was the senior enlisted man in the platoon of about 35 soldiers. A second lieutenant was the Platoon Leader. I was assigned to the Company L, 3rd Battalion, 86th Mountain Infantry, 10th Mountain Division.
We left Norfolk (Hampton Roads) Virginia on Dec 10th 1944 on the SS Argentina for a 13 day voyage on this unescorted troop ship. No problems and arrived in Naples, Italy on Dec 24th.
My name is Cruz Rios. I was born on December 15, 1918, in Colton, California. Since 1945 I have been to Italy six times, the first being the most memorable. In January 1945 I was a member of the 87th Regiment, 10th Mountain Division.
We were sent to Italy to help stop and put an end to the tyranny and destruction caused by the German Army.
This is my story as told to my son Val and now for those interested in understanding.
The Capture of Mussolini’s Last Residence by 10th Mountain Division
Spearheading the Allied advance through northern Italy, soldiers of the United States 10th Mountain Division arrived at the picturesque Lake Garda. By late April 1945 they had the struggling German army on the retreat as they pushed their way into the heart of the last Axis stronghold in Italy and eventually into the very home of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Known to the Italians as “Lago di Garda”, the area was the seat of the newly formed Salo Republic, headed by Mussolini.
We captured the villa of Mussolini
It was late April 1945- the 10th Mountain Division was acing northward along the east shore of Lake Garda in northern Italy. The Division had fought valiantly in the Apennines during the winter months and spearheaded the Allied breakthrough to and across the Po River.
I was the platoon leader of the First Platoon of Company K of the 85th Regiment.The Platoon had experienced the heavy fighting on Mount Belvedere and in the vicinity of Castel d'Aiano in the Apennines.