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Thirteen/WNET New York WLIW 21
New York War Stories : Your Memories. Your Words.

My Father's Story, The Infantry Medic

Submitted by: Carmine Verrone Jr.
This is the memory of: Carmine Verrone Sr.
Relationship to submitter: Father

My father Carmine Verrone Sr, served in the US Army with the 313th Medical Battalion, 88th Infantry Division, Charlie Company during World War II as an infantry medic and held the rank of Tec 4 (sergeant). Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He was 23 years old when he entered the war serving from 1942 to 1945. His unit went from North Africa, to Anzio, Casino, Po Valley, Rome, the Brenner Pass and finally to Austria. On June 6th he was liberating Rome from the Axis. He spent his first campaign carrying wounded soldiers for 36 hours without sleep in Italy. During his time in the Italian Alps he saw his friend get hit in the head with a piece of shrapnel from a near-by mortar strike. The shrapnel penetrated through his helmet and the boy died instantly. He was 18 and married. My father always said, "No one knows what war is all about. It is a terrible thing to go through."

At another point, my father was stationed at a farmhouse that was used as a front line aid station. It was only used as a garrison for all wounded men found, since there was a shortage of supplies there was nothing that could be done for some of them but make their last days better than lying in a trench bleeding. One day a jeep pulled up carrying a sergeant and captain from a different division searching for a place to hold their men. No space was available of course, they drove away with a "Good Luck". My father turned away and at that exact second he heard a deafening explosion. He turned to look where he heard the explosion and saw the jeep, sergeant, and captain 50ft above the ground. Their bodies looked like lifeless dummies in the air. The explosion was so powerful, the axles came off the jeep. He never quite forgot what he saw that day, and figured it was a tank mine. There was another incident in the same aid station when he went to get water for the wounded at a near-by well. The moment he neared the well he heard a *Thump* of a mortar being fired. The shelling had begun. Sprinting back toward the aid station he heard the mortars collide on the ground around him and felt the dirt being kicked up. 30 seconds later the well he would have been using, was disintegrated by a direct hit.

During a patrol they found an American soldier with his leg pinned underneath a flipped jeep. The soldier was there for 3 days without food or water. With effort the soldier was freed and taken back to the station. Another time a German soldier was found who stepped on a land mine. In order to save his life they had to amputate his foot. The captain, who was the doctor, gave my father the foot in the boot and told him to bury it. My father said there were always dangers at the front. This is because you don't know if you will be shot by a sniper or step on a mine.

Another event is when there was an order to get an ambulance that was stuck in the ridge back to the front line. A staff sergeant, who was a mechanic, was sent with a first sergeant. No sooner did they start the ambulance when the Germans had the ambulance in their sights and lit the ridge with artillery. The first sergeant was hit and the other sergeant was able to get him back to the aid station. My father said he was hit all over. They bandaged him and sent him back to the rear.

The best soldiers my father saw were the Sheiks, one of my father's guys was sleeping in the ambulance, pitch black at night. He felt a hand go past his neck and feel his dog tags, if they had been German dog tags they would slit your throat. They are undetectable.

There was a time at the end of the war when they sent a 40 year old sergeant from Company D to Company C., closer to the front line. He would always say to his men "Spread out when a shell comes in and less of you will be killed". Two weeks before the war ended, the man was hit by artillery, he had 5 kids.

The Germans would always shell for no apparent reason, one time a shell came in just as my father was coming out of the farm house. It hit a truck and the force of the strike threw him in the air and back into the house. One day the farm house was hit by a German 88 artillery shell. The explosion blew his helmet off and knocked him to the floor, something hit him in the back, and he thought he was wounded. He reached to see if it was blood, but it was plaster from the wall.

There were times when the squad thought they were going to be attacked by German paratroopers, and there was a time they were surrounded. The troop was ordered to take the ammunition and medical supplies off the dead. My dad said he had seen men so scared they could not drink water out of their canteen. One guy was hit in the head and came in with grass in his hands and mouth from hugging the ground from an artillery strike. When the captain went to take the grass out, he growled. He was probably never the same again. Another was when a 21 year old lieutenant died. They just couldn't figure what killed him. He had no wounds on him. When they did an autopsy on him, they noticed blood dipping from his side. It turned out he was hit with shrapnel that was so hot it sealed off the wound. When they opened him up, his lungs were so black they estimated he was smoking 5 packs of cigarettes a day.

One story still stands out in my mind. There was a master sergeant who was broken down in rank down to a private. He was so disgusted he joined the medics, from the infantry. He was up at the front line no longer that a half an hour when he was hit with shrapnel in the eye. When he came back to the aid station my father didn't recognize him with the size of the bandage he had over his eye. My father said "Hey sarge, let me take a look at your eye." When he looked at it he said "I'll help you into the ambulance, they will look at it in the rear." My dad did not have the heart to tell him he lost his eye.

Out of the 16,000 soldiers with the 88th Infantry Division 2,298 were killed in action and 9,225 were wounded. The unit was later disbanded. For his efforts my father received the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Medics Infantry Badge, 3 Battle Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, the Unit Citation, American Campaign Medal, the WWII Medal, and he was later awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross.