My father shipped out on the USS Mariposa on July 14, 1943, and arrived in Casablanca, N. Africa on July 21, 1943 as part of a replacement unit with the 34th Infantry Division. By the time he arrived, along with 2,000 other soldiers on his ship, the British and American troops had already driven out the German forces led by Gen Rommel, the Desert Fox.
In September of 1943, he left the Africa bound for and invasion of Salerno, Italy, under Lt. General Mark W. Clark, commander of the 5th army. Because of his ability to speak Italian, his assignment was changed to interpreter. His job was to talk to the Italian civilians to obtain information about the movement of the German troops, how many there were, and where best to cross the rivers. His division became part of the 3rd crossing of the Volturno River, outside the town of Santa Maria Oliveto.
As an interpreter, my father was part of the Headquarters Company. On November 7, 1943, they were bivouacked under Hill 550 eating lunch and getting ready to advance into the town. They could see German troops marching around and across the field. Without warning, the Germans shot 88’s from cannon, which exploded around their campsite. His Captain was hit, and as my father went to assist him, shrapnel struck him on his chin. He lost part of his chin, which was open and bone was showing. An ambulance evacuated him to a field hospital in Naples, a 2-hour drive away. He spent 3-4 days there and then was flown to a hospital in Bizert, Tunisia for surgery. They cut the scar that had formed and closed the hole with a skin graft from his arm. They pulled 2 of his teeth for space for a feeding tube, and then wired his jaw shut. He stayed like that for 2 months. He was 165 pounds when he entered the army, and while on the feeding tube, went down to 80 pounds.
After crossing back to the US by hospital ship, he spent the next 27 months moving to various hospitals. His first stop was Nashville, Tennessee, in January 1044. In February 1944, he was sent to Valley Forge, PA, which was a major plastic surgical center. Here he had reconstruction on his chin by Colonel Dr. James Barrett Brown, noted plastic surgeon and founding father of modern plastic surgery. After a year there, in February 1945, he was sent to Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, then on to El Paso, Texas, where he had more surgery to cut down his scar tissue. On February 21, 1946, he was honorably discharged from the army.
We honor you, Mario Cian DaRosso.
(#Repost @National Purple Heart Hall of Honor)