- From the book "In my father's foxholes and footsteps"
- The arrival in Italy and the transfer to the Apennines
- The attack on Mt Belvedere
- The defence of Mt Belvedere
- Il Malandrone, Cimon della Piella and Pietracolora
- The conquest of Castel d'Aiano and Mt della Spe
- The Spring Offensive
- Tolè towards Monte Pastore
- The conquest and crossing Savigno
- Fly down into the Po Valley
- Crossing the Po river
- The end of the war in Italy
- Return back to America and to the family
- All Pages
We landed in Virginia, Newport News. Prior to landing, I remember we were given food and new uniforms so to look good for the crowd. Just a few days before, we looked as though we were ”killed in the coal “. German prisoners were serving in the cafeteria. We boarded trains and passed three days in Norfolk. Before arriving we heard over the loudspeaker that Hiroshima had been bombed, an Atomic bomb. I didn’t know exactly what an atomic bomb was until they told us about the vast destruction it caused. We were hoping that the war in the Pacific would be over soon. We also heard that the Russians had entered the war against the Japanese. An accord was made between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin that as soon as the war was over in Europe they would enter the war in the Pacific.
I was someplace in Ohio, on a troop train, being transported to the west when we heard the war was over. You could see people out in the streets happy and just yelling “ The war was over”. We were supposed to stay here for three or four weeks and then report back to Camp Carson, Colorado where the Division was to unite. But they said no, take a few more days extra and wait for another telegram. Well, the second telegram was really for me to report to Ft. McArthur for my discharge. It seems strange that you can get used to war, it’s exciting, but not while in combat. You get scared because it’s hard to re-adjust back to peacetime from war. I felt nervous, I felt, wanted to keep going. It seems as though I wasn’t happy.
I started working in a packinghouse when I got back home. One day a big box fell down and I threw myself on the floor. The reaction…you know was instinctive. I thought that I’m not quite well. That’s why when I hear about some of these fellows that have problems after being in combat, well, I know what it is like. Yeah, it was quite an experience. The war was over and I never saw any of the fellows again. I would have liked to go back in time, probably the same for the majority, just to see some of the fellows and say goodbye, but we knew it could never happen. In the end the majority of us probably wanted to no longer remember.
I remember places like Lizzano in Belvedere. I remember these villages being old fashioned. The latrines were outside where everybody passing by could see you doing your business. Italy is different but the people are like that, I don’t know how to explain it, they are so kind. Like I was telling some of these Italian fellows, I had fallen in love with Italy years ago, especially while crossing through those villages in the Po Valley and traveling up in the mountains, where you can find small shrines here and there. One of the fellows remarked, ”Those people are so bizarre”. I thought to myself ”Oh my.. aren’t we are the uncultured ones ”. So I tell this fellow that I’ve always liked art and history, and that's what I love about Italy. They have so much. We’re so modern in so many things yet in some other areas so far behind.
I think being a soldier and being in combat makes you think differently. I hated war. I hated it, yet it was exciting at the same time. For years I couldn’t go to bed before midnight. I always wanted to know what was happening. I was afraid something would happen, especially during the war when I was asleep. So I could never get to sleep before midnight and sometimes not even till one in the morning. Up to a few years ago I would stay up watching TV until late because I always felt a lot was going on in the world and that something was going to happen. That’s me…all of us are different. I’ve always been interested in World Affairs. It seems like world affairs interest me more than local affairs.
You see, during the war things were constantly changing from one day to the next. We were coming back from the Aleutian Islands while the episode at Tarawa was happening just before we went overseas we were sent overseas. In fact, if we would have left just a couple of months before, we probably would have been redirected Europe to Battle of the Bulge. Because the 10th was a winter division we could have been used there. But it didn’t happen that way; The Battle of the Bulge was fought during the winter. Yeah, we could have been used there.
Pfc. Cruz F. Rios
10th Mountain Division
87th Regiment, Company K
Vires Montesque Vincimus
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