Name: Salvatore “Sam” Dugo
Date of Birth: November 16, 1920
Place of Birth: Chicago, IL
Dates of Service: 1942 – 1946
Branch: US Army
Unit: 3rd Army, 375th Infantry
Locations: Norther France, Rhineland
Prisoner of War: No
Today is June 10 2009; this is Fidencio Marbella with the Melrose Park Public Library in Illinois. Also present are Heidi Beazley a reference librarian at Melrose Park and Mr. John Misasi a WWII veteran and a member of our library board.
Today we will be speaking with Mr. Salvatore “Sam” Dugo. Sam served in the United States army from 1942-1946. The highest rank he received was as a PFC & this interview is being conducted for the veteran’s history project at the Library of Congress. Ok let’s go ahead and get started Sam.
Sam why don’t you tell us when and where you were born?
I was born in Chicago 19, the year?
Nov 16 1920.
Ok, tell us a little bit about your family when you were growing up?
My family we all were a poor family, we didn’t have nothing much. My father was in the wholesale business fruit and vegetables, he used to sell it. And my mother was just a plain house wife took care of five, there was 6 of us, 6 you know we went to school & from there the highest we went to school was grammar school and high school that was as far as we got then after that we went to work. That was the next thing we did.
What was your first job?
First job, I was a construction, working construction, up and down, guys with the pipe fitters, and the pipe fitters and building homes carrying the lumber, all the heavy equipment. You know see carrying that sack of cement and stuff like that. That was the 1st job. Then what else did I do, second job was, then after that I got married. And then I was a truck driver driving a truck. I did that for about 20 years ‘til I retired. I retired in 19 what was it 1978 I retired and that was it from there. And I raised 2 boys, 2 sons I raised and a one’s a doctor and one’s an engineer.
Wow you must be very proud
One’s a doctor that I he’s in Texas he don’t do me any good when I get sick. That’s about it I don’t know what else I have.
Ok why don’t you tell us where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor on December 7? Do you remember?
Oh God where the hell was I….I think I was…where the hell was I…I think we were home at the time with my dad. Yeah we were all at the table that night I think yeah we were all home at the time on Taylor Street. We heard about it yeah.
So was it a bit of a shock?
Oh yeah that’s right yeah oh god yeah, my father was oh my father was really gassed because you know we had 5 boys see and he knew that if there’s a war gonna break out he knew that all of us were, you know we were all at the age at the time to serve you know see so what happened, that’s what happened. And then when the war did break out my brother Tony got drafted first, and then I got drafted second then my other brother finally got drafted, was three of us. Then my brother Joe got drafted, was four of us. And then they wanted my brother Bobby and they wanted to draft him too see but then my father went up before the board what do you call it.
The draft board
The draft board you know and he told them you want to take him you might as well take me too. He says I got four of them in there already how many more do you want he says, you know, so what happened they eliminated my brother you know they kept him out see. That time how old he must have been about 16, 17, 17 years old something around that age you know. And that was it and he was pretty mad about it. He went up before the board & he got a he got real peeved about it. But you can’t blame him there was four of us you know so, so what else that’s it?
So you where drafted then in 1942?
Oh yeah I was, we all were drafted yeah see none of us volunteered we all got drafted.
So where were you actually inducted in to the army?
I was in Fort Leonard Wood, oh wait it was in Michigan it was it was in Michigan. I forgot the name of it.
So you had to go to Michigan first from Chicago?
Yeah Michigan yeah I forgot the name, Michigan & then I took my training in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri in Missouri. We took our basic training over there see
Did your family get a chance to see you off before you went before you went to Michigan?
Oh yeah when they put us on one of the trains you know yeah they saw us off my mother father were there my other brother. Had to see us off but when I went to training oh we were there for oh god how ever many years we were there; just training you know, we stood there. Then from there went to where did I go, oh yeah that’s when I went to one of the, overseas…
Oh you went to Hawaii
Hawaii that’s were I went. My back wouldn’t heal ever it was hot there so they sent me back to the states and they assigned me to a different offer in the army, see with the infantry army then, but I got healed up everything, healed you know I went to the hospital first & that they fixed me all up in my back and everything and then I got back in service again you know and I went from there I went what was it …POE, Port of Embarkation, up in New Jersey so then we got on a boat there and that’s when we went straight to Germany from there and when we hit France they gotta love to battle, see that’s what it was from one extreme to the other I mean this was a little time before you know later on see. I was at the POE and then we went on to the boat…from the boat what the hell did we do there…from the boat…. then we got on the landing craft, on the landing craft we were you know….that’s when we went into Normandy. We had Normandy beach then. This was about I’d say about 20 days after D-day. You see all the bodies you had on the water, yet the ships that were wrecked you know when we got off the boat all the ships laying out there, dead cows, dead horses you know on the side there’s everything you know was at a standstill there when we got in then we fought off then we started fighting all the way in working our way in see. What else was there?
Ok let’s go back a little bit to your basic training what kind of things did they teach you in Leonard Wood?
I was a rifle, just rifle that’s all I had was a rifle and a bazooka. I was a rifleman and they kept a bazooka man you know those big bazookas you had to carry see.
What was the bazooka used for?
The bazooka was for say in case you went in a building, there’s like building, shoot it through the building. The reason why they say when I was in service there in the army in Germany there was a house, there was a house and there was a guy with a machine gun with the machine gun so they call for the bazooka man to shoot the bazooka. It explodes the bazooka, it explodes so I aimed and hit the and put it right into the window and knocked out this machine gunner so we could get through see. So that what the…they gave us that kind of training. See that and a rifle man I used to carry they call the M1 Rifle the big rifle, the M1 and the bazooka. The hardest part about that was I used to carry the M1 rifle, the bazooka you know we just kept on going walking, walking you know so I used to get mad. I used tell my captain, I says listen I had been carrying it for 10 miles walking I says you know. He says I’d get a relief man – never did get me a relief man so what I did I just got the bazooka and I threw it away. I says I threw it away I say I can’t handle it no more. You told me you’re gonna get me relief you know. He says I’ll have you court-martialed. I told him court martial me you know. We were on the front lines where you gonna court-martial me? So what happened this captain then he got killed the next day. He got a couple bullets in him you know. He got killed so then we had another captain which we did trade off, you know. He carried the bazooka once and I carried we used to switch off, it’s too much you know you got the pack you got everything your ammunition you got your… that shovel; that shovel was the best part of it. If you didn’t have the shovel you’re dead you had to dig in with the shovel every night you know that was our best weapon was the shovel. You lose that you lose your life. We used to dig in every night we used to dig in. We didn’t have no bed no sleeping, forget it so that’s the way it was you know.
So you had to sleep in a hole in the ground every night?
Every, that’s all every night especially in the winter time when it got cold, boy it was something else. It was cold when we used to walk through that slop that we used to put the sacks on our shoes. You know a lot of guys got frozen feet you to call it frost bitten. Frost bitten, you know we used to lose our toes and everything on account of that you know so we used to put the sacks, it was cold it was slushy, you know when that ice would go through these things, oh Christ that when you’re a foot soldier it’s hard, had a lot, oh boy I did several months up there several months in action. In fact I have there was about I’d say three quarters of our men were wiped out. We got killed or wounded. It hits awful, we got murdered up there boy they hit us hard and we were you know then when I got hit we were going, going. I was in a foxhole when I got hit. They had us pinned down for about, for about all day long they just kept throwing the bombs all over us and what happened was the paratroopers, I mean the plane came over and dropped a bunch of the food you know, K rations, our rations you know so, my foxhole was here and the k rations were about 15, 20 yards away and the guys were going there to get sneaking over to get the k rations. We used to get them in the cans you know so all of a sudden, bing, they must have zeroed in on that one spot because if you go, the Germans were probably watching it was there and they were hitting that one spot and I was closest to the, you know right next to it before I know it I was on duty, that it was getting dark around in the afternoon and I was like this with my leg crossed, you know we were on guard. I had here we used to have what you call the buddy system in the army. When we dug in they call it 2 guys in a foxhole. See one guy in the front & one guy in the back, see they guard, you know whoever’s in front of you and whoever’s in back of you, see so we used to be I was in front like that you know guarding you know and because they were hitting us some terrible that night, so all of a sudden I saw a big flash in front of me you know what do you call one of these bombs
Bursts, bursts in front of me when I went down like that that’s when I got hit see, I got hit I went like this. I got hit. It hit me right here a lot here my wrist here I got a little piece. It must have been a little piece of shrapnel. If it was big piece I wouldn’t have been there you know, so when I went down like that I got hit and I laid, I went back like this. I laid down, blood was squirting out of my eye, my nose, my mouth, my wrist, I looked at the sky. I said I’m gone, I says I’ll stay here. I never passed out. I lost a lot of blood but I never passed out and then the medics finally came you know because a lot were wounded, a lot of us got hurt, got wounded and that guy my partner the guy.
My buddy he was dead, he didn’t know what he had a hole in him this big see, when I laid back I was laying on top of him see & I had all his blood was on my back and it was in the wintertime. It was in December when we got hit so when they went to pick me up I was stuck to his body, you know because of all that blood you know. And then my mouth started, it was caked up you know when you’re frozen up from the cold, the blood I couldn’t even open my, I couldn’t even open my mouth with all that blood you know. So then the medics came they picked me up with the stretcher and we went about maybe 5 yards and they dropped me cuz they still kept shelling us you know and bombs kept coming in and the we’d go another 20 yards and then they’d drop me again, you know after they‘d try to clear me wherever they were gonna take me you know. Then we went finally got in into this big, it was a big hut, one of these huts they put me in, you know we were way behind the lines you know. Then I wanted to get some water I couldn’t I couldn’t even open my mouth to get water I was frozen with the blood you know, in fact I’ll never forget that time you know. So then from there they took me to the hospital and operated on me. They operated on my eye see here, they operated on it then & then I went to this hospital. I don’t know what hospital I was in out there, France or Germany some place wherever it was you know and then they operated on me and I went to O’Reilly General Hospital. I stood there they kept operating you know on my eye. For some reason they said we’re not gonna take the eye out we’ll leave it but that’s the way you gotta live with it he told me but I could never see out of the eye, see it looks right but I could never see out of it see so that’s the way it was, so what are you gonna do.
So you were wounded, was it during the Battle of the Bulge?
Yeah battle, after yeah during the battle we crossed the Mosel River I don’t know if it was the Bulge or not I think that was be…the Bulge I think was…the Bulge was still going on then they were still fighting with the Bulge. We were on the other side you know see I think when we crossed the Mosel river, I don’t know this was in this was in December the 12th is when I got hit in 42.
So it might have been right before?
Or 44, rather in 44 I got hit, see what was it 44 yeah 44. 44 is when I got wounded out there see in December it was cold out so I don’t know if that Battle of the Bulge was going on then.
It might have been right before?
I don’t know if it was past or before you know, see cuz all we kept this Patton we just kept going, going moving and moving and moving, never resting. We rested once in a blue moon. You know, just kept going all the time all the time, sometimes we were so far advanced we had to wait for the, we had to wait. The guys used to run out of gas with the tanks and everything we had to wait for them guys you know.
So how long were you on the front lines before you got wounded?
I was there several months I went there in July. July, August, September, October, November, December about 6 ½ months, I was up there 6 ½ months of action. I mean everyday you live from minute to minute not day to day you know. I’ll never forget the time my sergeant, he was from Wisconsin, he was a big guy. He says follow me we’ll get out of this war you know, and I did every time. When I first got into action I used hear the bombs go over your head, zoom, you could here them you know, zoom, you know and I used to duck so he used to tell me you don’t have to duck as long as you hear them going over you. You’re in good shape, he says as long as they’re going over you. The ones that are gonna get you are the ones you don’t hear, the ones in front of you and that’s the one that got us.
So he told us we’ll get out of this so what happened that day I was in on the lines, he got wounded, he got hit that day, his leg, he got hurt, his leg, he got shrapnel. They put him on a stretcher and he was going back you know, going back and I, he waved to me he says I’m going back. I says ok and so that night I got hit we both got hit. He got hit in the day and I got hit in the night time. Ain’t that something, And that’s the guy that told me we’ll get out of this, what do you he had balls he had balls. Reminds me that guy was up there longer then me he was something else this guy. He was a great guy, strong guy no fear whatsoever no and I used to follow… follow me yeah like I said if it wasn’t for that maybe who knows I would have gotten out without a scratch too just like that guy that was in the fox hole. When I figured I would get killed I was out in the open I used to see the, the bullets go by me with the guy with machine gun bullets in the house use could see them splatter right in front of you doon doon doon doon just in front of you like that you know I used to see all of that aww, I’d see so much. And then one night when we did this night I’m lucky I’m here today that one night that we took this town over. We took this town right now when we take a town over we have a patrol, what they call a 7 man patrol to guard to see that no enemy comes you know. So that night we, I went on patrol one night. One night I went on patrol we took this town over and then the next night we stood there 2 nights and the next night when I stood in this place this guy had cognac down in his basement you know we took us down so this cognac that stuff. So we started drinking that stuff you know so I felt good that night I felt like so now we had to go on patrol so what happened the 7 man patrol so I volunteered I told him let me go on patrol. No, he said no duke no you were on last night we’ll give it to…you had to rotate we used to rotate you only had guard duty 2 hours on & 2 hours off and a lot of times you could fall asleep you know on those 2 hours let us be on patrol you know watch so that night that day I went wondering about he said no you went last night. So what happened our 7 man patrol went out that day right? now where waiting for them to come back were waiting figuring they’re taking so much time they never came back. So it was daybreak, then it was daybreak it was getting light so we went out we had another patrol. We went out there even I was on a patrol too we went out there were these, these guys. we found one guy here one guy here one guy there. Six of them were dead. What they did the Germans they all had their necks with wire and there..they grabbed the whole 6 of them you know they’re was only one guy left and he was behind a tree like that shaking. One of our soldiers, the only guy that was left he was frozen like he was shaking like that you know the only guy that was alive see. So the sergeant looked at me he says and you wanted to go on patrol that night he says I says well you know it happened to me it happened to somebody else so he says if I sent you. If I told you go ahead, well, I already went the night before if I wanted to go that night I’d got, I would have probably got my neck off you know. That’s what I say, it was bad it, was bad up there like this everyday you live from minute to minute up there it was bad…so what else?
So what was it like going on a night patrol? I mean how would you see?
Oh yeah well we’d go, we’d just follow through the night patrol we’d go certain distance you know then we’d come back you know just to see there’s no, no enemy there you know see a lot… then there was one night that the enemy did come a patrol they had there own guard and they, we were in the house that day I’ll never forget. We were in the house when we captured this town. There was a patrol, it was a German patrol that went by see good thing they went by so what happened that was good so we gave them a taste of their own medicine. We opened up on them. We nailed the whole seven, there was six or seven of them we nailed them all we grabbed them all. See we hit them all from both sides we opened up on them like there was no tomorrow. I emptied out my gun on them guys yeah we got them all. We got all of them, shit we made Swiss cheese out of every each one of those guys yeah. I’ll never forget that night yeah that was another night. We had a lot of close ones now that I think about it…like I said we used to go just keep going, just keep going, pushing through, pushing just going town after town we used to all the time. This Patton, he was a good general, he’d go with you he was up there too he had old blood and guts they’d call him. He was tough yeah…that’s about it
Can you tell us a little about the time that you spent in Hawaii?
In Hawaii I only I didn’t only I spent 4 months out there, only 4 months I was mostly in a rehab out there trying to they tried used to patch. See that they did when I was in Hawaii they patched me up they tried to keep my, my cheeks together you know so I could heal see & I used to stay there but it would never heal up it kept puss keep coming, keep coming out of my back all the time you know so they says we’ll have to send you back to the states. Maybe they can help your back more out there they helped me out see that’s what happened, that’s what that’s what happened.
So how long where you in the states before you had to go off to Europe?
About a year?
No not even a year, that was about let’s see… I went to the states…then I went, what state did I go to AWOL…or wait I went AWOL. I went AWOL at that time.
Can you tell us about that?
Yeah I…what happened I met some girl you know. I was single, I met some girl. I went over to what they call so what I was doing I had passes right. I had, they gave me the 3 day pass, from that 3 day pass I made Photostats, we made some copies out of it, I used to get some copies you know. So I used to write them up you know in case you know in them days we used to have the MPs used to have patrol, used to patrol the city you know. So that one day I had the pass but I forgot to make…it was expired I was supposed to make another one which I didn’t so what happened..I’m just coming out with my girlfriend we’re just coming out of her home we’re walking down the street and the MP passing by and they stop and they saw me and they say button up your tie soldier you know I had my tie, look like a soldier they told me, so anyways he says come out so he says let me see, you got your pass? So I says yeah, then I says oh my God I says I forgot I showed him I showed him my pass. He says well this is expired you should have been in camp you’re a day late he told me. I says well I was gonna go catch I told him I was going to the railroad to catch the train to go back to camp I told him. He says no come on, none of that he put me in his car and he took me straight to, straight to this fort what was it, Fort Sheridan he took me to Fort Sheridan and there I had to wait for my company to come and get me and bring me back…that’s why I got this over here they put on your discharge.
It wasn’t 33 days they lied there. Nah believe me I don’t think it was that many days. Maybe when I was at what do you call it, Ford Sheridan you know they put it down but I wasn’t out 33 days I must have been out maybe a week or 2 weeks see sure…even this girl wanted to come and see me the one that was in the stockade…you had to be in the stockade out there at fort you know.
She must have really liked you
Oh yeah she was somebody beyond them days…we spent a lot of time.
So then you left the US from New Jersey?
You left the US from New Jersey?
Yeah POE, port of embarkation.
That was up in New Jersey.
Now how long was your ride on the ship?
Oh my God
About 2 weeks?
I don’t know its hard to say see what happened was when I was in New Jersey I was, see I was in the stockade at the time they put us up on the ship you know. So when I was in New Jersey now I was on the ship. OK, all the guys we were going, going over seas at the time so what happened the boat was coming in & I told the guy, boy that boats gonna hit us. Naw, them guys know. I says that boat’s coming so close and another boat coming in we were docked there already. I say that boats gonna hit us I says it coming really sure enough it did hit it hit the stem of our boat made a big whole in it like that see. So now what happened was we had to get off the boat now again. I says boy this is my luck once I says get off this boat I’m going home man. So now what happened everybody’s leaving you know. Everybody’s getting off the boat and getting called by their names. I said what the hell they didn’t call us the guys that were in the stockade. They didn’t call our names you know, so what happened was there was about 30 or 40 of us left on the only ones on the boat you know. So what happened was the MPs comes with the guns and marched us off the boat see we got off the boat and they put us in the stockade you know and the best part of it you know we slept outside, you know we slept, we had a tent when I was in POE. We had a stockade. We slept on the floor we didn’t have no bed the floor was dirt with stones on it that’s were we slept that night. So the next day the ship coming, it was ready the put us back onto the ship see and then from there you know got a different ship and they took off. See they want you just my luck these guys forget about it. See when I was in Hawaii at the time I spent four months out there you know and I seen these guys coming in from a what was it from what where they were battling out there…
Guadalcanal. Them guys this and when they were coming into the hospital where I was staying I see he’s got no arms no legs you know this here one soldier was a one captain he was a he was a pilot of air. He was all burnt all his body was all burnt you know and I we used to have the big medicine ball you know and I was just my back was hurt but I used to get the medicine ball and throw it at him to build his, his you could see his body how it was all wrinkled up from the burns you know and I used to get the medicine ball and throw it at him and he used to catch it on his stomach there you know to strengthen him up you know back and forth we used to go like that when I was in Hawaii see the few months because they used to ask us because if you can be able to get around we used to do a little work out there for them for the for the other veterans too you know. See got no legs. One guy had no eyes you know and then when they, when they feed them and then when I got shot up the same way when they fed this guy that was blind and I all I had I would wear a bandage on my eye you know and this here one guy that was next to me he was blind. He got shot in the legs you know the bullet went through and ruined his eyes and when they gave him his food they call 6 o’clock like a clock. Like 6 o’clock, like 3 o’clock would be your potatoes 6 a 5 a 3:30 would be your would be your what do you call it your meat you know stuff like that see. That’s how they used to, that’s how they used to find out where they’re food was at. Like they matched it 6 o’clock you know aww, I’ll tell you it was something. Especially in that hospital. When I see that I boy yeah that’s when that’s when I was in when I was in Hawaii I’ve scene all these guys that what made me go overseas you know like for what you only got one life you know but then when I was in, got shot up myself I was in the hospital you seen all these guys coming in see. I was in the ward where all eye surgery and face things like that was guys where noses they used to build noses you know these guys got skin grafts. They used to put like this with their hand you know a skin graft. Not talkin’ about they give them a nose from the hand they used to skin graft them for the ear you know like that given them a new ear yeah see how they do that.
Skin grafts, years ago they did that see its part of the meat get a new nose. Now your going back I don’t know how they do today…that’s the way it was them years. And then when I was in O’Reilly Gen when I would come back to the states I was at O’Reilly General Hospital that’s the time they operated on me on my eye there and what happened one of my lungs collapses see one of my lungs collapses and they had me in one of these oxygen tents there. I didn’t know that they had me knocked out they told me they had the priest, they thought I was gonna die you know they had the priest there and everything for a couple of days, 2 or 3 days I was there. And the guys told me they says you know I was I couldn’t believe that I was, you know I was knocked out I didn’t know I was in a tent they says yeah we had the priest here everybody we thought you were a goner you know so and then both of my eyes were bandaged at the time see and then these guys these soldiers, they said give me, take me I said I gotta go to the washroom he said take me there instead of the washroom they used to take me to the kitchen to go to the washroom. So the nurse grabbed me said what are you doing in there what do you mean I’m going to the washroom. This ain’t the washroom she told me. These soldiers will do that to you know my eyes you know my eyes were bandaged. I didn’t know where I was at. Awe they used to play more jokes on you years ago. Oh they did more things you know it was things that they thought was funny. It wasn’t funny to me but…and they did more things and that one guy was a drunk. I used to have that Aqua Velva what do you call Aqua Velva you used to shave you know I used to use that big bottle you know and every time when I was in the I used to keep it on my desk you know when I was in…I used to use it when I get a shoe shine. Every time I used to put it on so every time it would disappear on me I’d where the hell is this little where’s this Aqua Velva every time I buy it the next time I come there’s no more so this here one guy he was he was a drunk you know what he used to do he used to drink that he used to drain it I don’t know what he did with it that guy was drinking the Aqua Velva he was an alcoholic this soldier believe me when I tell you that he was drinking that Aqua Velva. I don’t know how he did it John, that’s what this guy told me he’d say Dugy, that guy was taking you what do you call it your stuff you use that schnapps you know that was schnapps he would call it.
So there’s alcohol in the Aqua Velva?
Yeah. They all, oh yeah sure there’s alcohol in that Aqua Velva. He must have drained it or something I don’t know what he that’s what they tell you they drain that stuff I don’t know what they drain out of it.
John: They use orange juice they put the orange juice.
Huh? The what?
John: orange juice.
With the orange they probably mix the orange juice mix it up with something huh. Yeah did you even have any?
You never heard of that John?
I never heard of it before.
John: we had some alcohol that was poisoned someone.
Yeah that’s what I was gonna say you know.
Yeah they must have mixed it with something…awe the things that used to go on all the time. another incident that time in Hawaii I’ll never forget that yeah what else we gotta do anything else.
Well umm you went from New Jersey to England?
Yeah I went, no from, yeah, went from England what happened you got on this boat what do you call it?
A landing craft?
A landing craft you know and we went you get off and I got my you know we got off and we got in they called what the hedgerow country what do you call a hedgerow, hedgerow.
That hedgerow, hedgerow. We were there the battle was almost over and we were replacements for these guys and that’s were we started to work our way all the way in see from there. That’s were I saw we used to see a lot of the horses a lot of cattle that were dead you know that you see them from you know you see them staying there with there feet sticking up in the air cuz you know when they die.
John: and they get all swollen up
Yeah they all bloat up like that you know yeah I’ve scene a lot of bodies when I got off when I got off the boat a lot of bodies were piled up and there was a lot of ships that were damaged or got you know damaged or got blown up yeah that’s about then we were foot soldiers we got in we got in there all right you know worked our way all the way in
What were the hedgerows. What are hedgerows?
Hedgerows. Hedgerows. I never heard of that
John: I never did either
No the Hedgerows
I never heard of that
John: oh the hedgerow
Oh the hedgerows, oh that’s the …
What are those?
That’s the bushes you know the hedgerows is the bushes see there used to be bushes right along all the way down that’s what they call a hedgerow, hedgerow you know what the hedgerow are like the bushes.
Storm and both sides yeah a fence yeah.
And then the guys used to go through it see.
Called a hedgerow see.
John: go through with the carts with the big wheels.
Yeah the carts
It grew right, right
John: and this is the hedgerow and it got so thick the tanks wouldn’t even go through it.
Oh the tanks, no the tanks couldn’t go through, mostly foot soldiers or little jeep or ….but tanks couldn’t go through.
Yeah and the best part every time the tanks go come into town we used I used to we to follow the tanks you know. We used to follow them on the side get behind them but then when the shells start when we see a tank we used to stay away from the tanks. We used to zero in on the tanks see that said we used to get behind the tanks ‘cause they used to know with the Germans with them 88s, they could put them in your hip pocket that’s how good they were. They, they, they hit they were they were good fighters them Germans boy I’ll tell you. How we beat them I can never understand. We were just civilians, just guys that went there but these guys were soldiers you know since they were kids, they were brought up see that’s how I could never understand how these guys were so, so good on doing things these Germans they could outsmart you. They were like I say but old guts and glory he knew the ins and outs of her you know so what else we got anything else anything else.
So after you were wounded you were shipped back to the U.S?
Yeah I come yeah, after I got wounded I spent at O’Reilly General Hospital to lay you know that’s where I got discharged from O’Reilly see I was there about a year in the hospital, a year and a half operation you know fix we up this and that and then I went to the hospital in July 26, no September 26 1946 I left the hospital that when I got released I was on my own since them.
So you made your way back to Chicago?
Yeah I was from Chicago.
What was your homecoming like?
Homecoming? No homecoming, just my family greeted me that was it there was no bands or bugles or nothing we just come home and that was that
So were you the last one of your brothers to return home?
Yeah, yeah ‘cause my brother a Tony come home, Mikey, then Joe lets see yeah they all were home at the yeah I was the last one ‘cause I was in the hospital see. They all were home you know yeah it was my brother Neme my brother Mike got wounded too. He got what they call shell shock. He was shell shocked. He was in England. In fact when I was in England that time and he was he was in England too, but they had him in a ward where they, what do you call it wouldn’t give him no fork or nothing, he was so shell shocked that they were afraid he was gonna kill himself you know so they kept all kinds of knives and folks away from him see ‘cause he was shell shocked and he came home shell shocked my ‘cause he went through, he went through the battles too but he didn’t get wounded but he got what they call too much of a thing worked on him see. So I went and seen him when I was in England. I took a train. He was only about 40 miles away from me and I took that train that train, must have took us 5 hours to get there. That train was so slow ding, ding, ding. I said Madon! For 48 hours how long is this gonna take us? Aw for another couple I says how long has it been but they go slow they stop and this and that to get there so finally I got to see my brother. So what happened that night instead of getting back I, they made provisions for me you know. I slept with him in one of his places there they made room for me for a bed to sleep to stay there overnight see. The next day I came back where I was at because I was supposed to leave to come back to the states then at the time see. I was supposed to come back they said we don’t want you to miss the, the boat that goes back he says you gotta be back at a certain time so I says ok which I did come back to see my brother. Then my brother was home before I did cuz I stayed at the hospital, at O’Reilly see for about a year. Operation on this and that on me. But I had a good time out there too. I enjoyed myself out there yeah you know in-between operations we had a good time too.
What kind of things would you do for fun?
What kind of things would you do for fun?
Awe what else could you do out there I’ll tell you, you know what I used to do? I used to play baseball out there. We had a baseball team out there you know and what else we did? That’s about it we did a lot of we used to play a lot of cards. We used to have dice games. You know what we used to do in the army? When we were in the army, John we used to have, we had the bed there and we’d make it real hard. We used to get the dice to roll the dice you know and we’d have a bunch of guys you know and we used to shoot dice. Maybe when we’d get paid especially when we got, what do you think we were getting paid them years, what were you what was it $40 a month right when we were overseas.
No when we got overseas they gave us an extra.
An extra $10 I think it was $40 when we got overseas or was it 20 and 30 what was it 20.
John: a dollar a day
John: A dollar a day
Yeah a dollar a day and then when we got overseas I think they gave us an extra $10 I think. And then we used to shoot dice on that day when we got paid. Then we had to wait another month. Oh boy but we, we enjoyed it we had some good times so you know after we got released
John: Is that why you started to smoke?
John: You got free smokes right, we got free smokes.
Oh yeah they used to give us them nah they used to give us three of them in a pack remember? The samples they used to give them?
John: We used to get the cartons.
No we never got a carton, they used to give us samples of cigarettes there was three or six.
John: just a few
Yeah, all kinds just a few of whatever they were you know. They used to give us three of them. They had a PX over there. We used to get cigarettes what were they a dime, a dime a pack? 15 cents a pack at that time, I never smoked that much when I was in service. I never smoked that much. Did you smoke much John?
John: I gave it away
Me too I gave it up. I didn’t smoke much. Like I say I haven’t smoked since I left the army I never breathe right they call me an OP smoker. You know who an OP is? Other people’s cigarettes! I used to borrow, they used to call me OP yeah. I used to borrow. I never bought cigarettes. I didn’t care for them that much you know. I remember when I used to drink is when I liked to smoke when you know, the only time so what else we got anything else.
So after you were discharged from the army, were you able to return to work right away?
Well before I couldn’t get a job then after, see what happened when, see I had an eye shot out what I wanted to be I wanted to get on the force, the police, be a detective you know but I couldn’t get on account couldn’t pass the physical with my eye see. You gotta have good eyesight you see so I couldn’t get that. Then I went to work for the city on what they call the bureau of electricity see, during that we used to put the stop signs, electrical stop signs you know digging, digging putting the cables in and everything so I went to work there then I quit that job. I quit it for I don’t know why, I was crazy to do so I quit it then I went to work for a guy offered me to drive driving a truck on the South Water market in the produce, that’s why I went to work there I worked there for about 20 years then they went out of business. Then I worked for another trucking company for another 10 years and I retired from them so about 30 years I worked all together.
Did you have any problem readjusting to civilian life after being in the war?
Nah nah nah, what adjustments? The only thing were, were was what do you call it, when it was what do you call it New Years. They used to throw the bombs shoot, you know that’s when I used to you, kinda the first year it kinda worked on me a little bit you know, but then after that it, it disappears on you and you know everything disappeared. I didn’t get bitter or nothing. I got bitter ‘cause you know the way I got hurt, the way I got shot up in the foxhole you know what hurt me was I couldn’t get the job I needed on account of my sight see…see, if I had good eyesight I could have had a job with the with the city, could have got good benefits and everything but I had to do it the hard way so what are you gonna do? So you take do what you can.
It still worked out for you
Yeah, I’m doing alright I ain’t got no complaints.
But the army gave me, what do you call it disability? Gave me, what do you call it for my eye. They give me a pension for that you know. They give you a percentage, 60% they give you every month which they do give you 60% when you get banged up you know. See, so it helps out you know these years if it wasn’t for that it helps me get along in life the money I get from them you know so.
Ok do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share with us?
Not yet, I’m glad I’m here yet.
John: Your children and grandchildren.
John: Your children and grandchildren.
Oh yeah, I got yeah what are you?
John: How many children and grandchildren?
Oh I got I got 7 grandkids. I got 7 grandkids and they keep me pretty busy you know one just graduated, one just graduated high school and my other ones graduating grammar school. Both of them graduating, yeah. The other one’s entering college and the other ones entering high school. Lisa, that’s my little baby doll she’s beautiful nice girl yeah. That’s my heart I give her yeah. She can’t wait ‘til she graduates the 19th of this month. The other guy graduated, it was Saturday no they had their commencement, I told you John, at Sears they had it remember I called I couldn’t make it? They had it at Sears I had to go there for his graduation. It was nice over there all the people, Madon! About a thousand of them graduating kids. Over a thousand! I got there at 10:30 in the morning we didn’t get out of there ‘til about 3:00 in the afternoon.
John: it was in Schaumburg right?
Yeah, in Schaumburg yeah. The people that graduated, got where did all these kids come from? Where are they gonna get jobs? These kids you know if they want to go to work you know I said my God they all had their nice gowns and you there, man my grandson what’s his name, PJ he graduated, he’s gonna go to Arizona in computers. He’s in he, he likes that computer work. He’s pretty good on this stuff here you know. He knows how to fix it when they go on the blink. PJ he’s only, PJ’s he what 17 graduated high school he’s probably about 17 now. About. Around that age 17, 18 yeah. So he’s going to Arizona yeah. You know, you know he applied for that, so I hope he does good in that field. The other guy, my other son Ronnie, he’s an engineer in Naperville and the other guy’s a doctor Michael. He’s in Texas he’s a doctor that’s about it.
Ok well thank you very much for sharing your memories with us today.