Cordino Longiotti was born on May 27, 1923 in Greenville, Pa. to Italian immigrants and inducted into the Army on Feb. 3. 1943. Basic training at Fort McClellan, AL.
"We set sail for Africa on June 9, 1943. I joined up with the 45th Division, 179th Infantry Co. D in Palermo, Sicily July 31. as assistant gunner and later gunner on 30 caliber water-cooled machine gun.
On Sept. 9 we landed on the Salerno Beachhead, Italy. After some hard fighting we made our way northward to Venafro, near Cassino. From there we landed on the Anzio beachhead where the fighting was ferocious. On February 18, 1944 we, (two machine gun squads), were deserted by our own troops, the enemy came from behind and our squad was taken prisoner with bayonets jabbing our backs. It was only by the grace of God that we survived.
We were taken to a German first Aid station surrounded with tanks where we were strafed by our own P-51 fighter planes. We were about 90 prisoners lined up, we all hit the ground and not one was injured, except 2 German soldiers were killed. One was sitting directly behind me on an ammunition box.
From there we were taken to a Lice-ridden camp in Laterina, Italy, with about 400 other pows, where we remained for 3 months. Life there was barely livable, water every other day, never a change of clothes. Diet was a cup of coffee for breakfast, cup of soup for lunch with a small piece of bread, and a cup of tea or soup for supper. Enough to just barely stay alive, In 3 months I lost 40 pounds. Everyone in camp had dysentery.
On June 8 we were loaded into boxcars like cattle and three days later arrived at Mooseburg, Germany. The camp there was more like a prison than a camp. After one month we were taken to Augsburg, where we built out own camp, which was hit by our own planes after we left. We were also cleaning up the rubble from our own bombings in the city and airport, taking shelter with the civilians when our bombers were overhead dropping bombs.
When asked what I did in civilian life, I said I was a farmer (hoping to get to work on a farm where there was food). On August 8 we were taken by truck to Memmington (Stalag VII-B), and 18 of us went by train to Unterthurheim, a farming community southwest of Augsburg. There we worked from sun-up to sun-down every day, farming in summer and cutting firewood in winter. Life on the farm was hard work, but the food also was much better. We ate what the farmers ate.
I contracted diphtheria in Jan. 1945 and was taken by train to a civilian hospital for two weeks. There I was reminded of my brother, who died from diphtheria when I was seven years old. I remained there until liberated by the 3rd Infantry Division on April 25, 1945. After liberation the German Sergeant in charge of us gave me his revolver for a souvenir.
On October 1995 my lovely wife Loretta and I celebrated our 50th anniversary. We have two children, Karen Jean and William Alan, and seven grandchildren.
War!!! "... It does not determine who is right or who is wrong... Only who is left." (Author unknown.) "We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all Gods " (Ps.91:1) I am proud to have fought for the freedom or our country, and I uphold the American flag with great respect. We truly are "one nation under God with liberty and justice for all." This is the greatest country in the world, even though some complain about little faults. Regardless of any faults this country may have, it is still the only place in the world that I would live in, and it is still worth fighting for.
I was willing to fight for the freedom of our country and even give my life if necessary, but it was only by the Grace of God that I was able to make it through to be here today. We should never forget our Creator. King David wrote "Though a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; harm shall not come unto thee " (Ps 91-7) I have not seen thousands fall but I have seen many, even hundreds that were killed in war and hundreds more injured, many for life. I encourage everyone to read about the history of our country and the wars that were fought for the freedom of the USA, and the brave men that fought and gave their lives so we can have that freedom for our future generations. Dying for freedom is not the worst thing that could happen, but being forgotten is.