Grandson of Willard (Lefty) Diefenthaler
Elkhart Lake, WI 53020
My grandpa is a good man
Whose story goes back many years
I know why when he looked in the mirror
He fought back painful tears.
He fought in the Battle of the Bulge
And fought for a great while
As waves of German soldiers died
In a German soldier pile.
Ammunition was running low
And more waves of the enemy were sent
They had nowhere that they could run
And they all knew what that meant.
So they took apart their guns
And tossed remaining shells
They pushed their cannons off a cliff
So they weren’t used on themselves.
They ran their trucks’ engines tight
As it sounded like metal on metal
They drained the oil on the ground
And put a rock on the gas pedal.
They held their hands above their heads
And stood up from behind the fender
With rifles pointed at their heads
They yelled, "We surrender".
He tells that story to me now
About that famous battle of World War II
How his battalion was taken by surprise
And became POW.
They were then held in a prison camp
For what seemed like eternity
They wondered when, if ever
They would once again be free.
They were taken to a different camp
And traveled by train track
When allied planes flew overhead
And started to attack.
They thought the train had enemy cargo
The engine was brought to a halt
But the allies who were bombing them
Had soon realized their fault.
The prisoners escaped the railroad cars
And laid out in the snow
With their bodies spelled POW
For the planes above to know.
When they were no longer prisoners
My grandpa had to stay
To see his ill twin brother
Whom he found had passed away.
When he finally got back home
He felt depressed and out of place
Because when he looked at himself in the mirror
He saw his brother’s face.
But with time the pain would pass
And he’d go on to live
And what he went through he won’t forget
But he can still forgive.
My grandpa’s a brave and honest man
Whose journey’s not yet done
And the qualities that live in him
Have been passed down to his son.
And the things that I admire in them
They now begin to see
The goodness that was born in them
Begins to show in me.
522 E. Valley View Rd. Ashland, Or. 97520
The veterans group of Anzio Beachhead Veterans of
W.W.II went to Italy to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the
battles for Anzio beachhead and the Liberation of Rome. We were a
group of 75 persons with about 30 veterans of the Anzio beachhead and
their wives and children.
On May 29; After arriving in Rome we transferred to
hotel Dei Cesari in Anzio, Italy. There was a brief wreath laying
ceremony at the W.W.II monument in newly redesigned Anzio Main Garibaldi
Square, with local authorities.
On May 30; Today there was a guided tour
by guide Mr. Silvano Casaldi, Curator of the Anzio Museum of Landing at
Anzio, of battle sites like Poligono, Mussolini Canale and Velletri. In
Valletri we had a ride in vintage military jeeps hosted be the local
students of beachhead reinactors. After lunch we continued the tour of
Anzio Beachhead area visiting Aprilla, Cisterna Overpass and other
battle sites. For dinner we went to farm restaurant Vecchia
Maremma arriving about 9:00 PM. We had a great dinner with several
appetizers and 7 course dinner lasting until 12:30 AM.
On May 31; there was a rededication ceremony of the
Association Plaque in Nettuno with the Mayor and other officials. Then
off to the AMERICAN CEMETERY in Nettuno for participation in the
Official Program of Memorial Day Event at American W.W.II Cemetery
attended by the US Ambassador to Italy, Mel Sembler, who gave a short
talk, along with Major Italian Government Officials and the Mayors of
Nettuno and Anzio. There are over 7800 fallen American soldiers from
W.W.II buried at the cemetery.
After the ceremony we went to Netuno Police Academy for lunch in the
cafeteria. We were then invited to a dinner reception hosted by the
ambassador to Italy at the ambassador’s Rome Residence, with several
other Veteran groups. The dinner was great, the food and
atmosphere were terrific. I had a picture taken with the Ambassador Mel
Sembler, and also, with the Mayor of Rome.
June 1; we moved to Rome Grand Hotel Then
on to visit a W.W.II photo exhibit at the Vittoriano Museum, Piazza
Venezia followed an orientation bus tour of downtown Rome. The
Trevi Fountains, Piazza Navona, Pantheon.
The next day we took a day trip to historical Casino
to visit the Albaneta war field and meet with Brother Germano at the
The Abbey monastery was bombed and mostly destroyed
during W.W.II when the allies were bogged down by the Germans. Brother
Germano was 11 years old at the time and was the only survivor of the
June 3; today we departed for a day trip to the
hill country and the area of Artena, Montelco for a special ceremony in
the city of Lazio near Albano, commemorating those who perished in the
W.W.II Battles fought in this area. Attended by allied veterans,
Italian partisans, town mayors, family members of war causalities and
the president of the Province of Rome. The ceremony unveiling a plaque
in honor of Victorio Gozzer, a commander of Italian partisans who joined
the allied forces and fought many battles in nearby Lepini mountains.
After the ceremony we were invited to a lunch at Palazzo Doria
hosted by the local authorities.
June 4; This was the big day. Today is
the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Rome. After a short
ceremony of the laying of wreath at Piazza Venezia, we were invited to a
lunch at city hall hosted by the Mayor of Rome. It was a great
lunch with about 400 to 500 present along with the Mayor and many
dignitaries present. The Mayor gave every veteran two copies of
paintings numbered and signed by the artist.
After lunch we had to make some changes in our
schedule when we heard that President Bush was in Rome and would
meet with us veterans. We had a special invitation to attend
the meeting at the American Ambassador¹s residence where
President Bush would meet with us. There were no news media
present, strictly a private party with several veterans groups with
their spouses and siblings, about 500 total. Security was very tight
going into the Embassy. Police (thousands of them) surrounded the
complete Embassy, no traffic on the streets around the Embassy and
helicopters overhead. There were several dignitaries present also, Colin
Powell, Ambassador to Italy Mel Sembler, Assistant Secretary of Veterans
Affairs, Mr. Nickelson Ambassador to the Vatican, Tony Hall Ambassador
to U.N. agencies for food and agriculture, former ambassador of South
Africa to Italy and, of course, Mrs. Laura Bush. The
President gave a very touching speech honoring the veterans of W.W.II.
I was in the second row, but when the president started shaking
hands the Lieutenant Colonel & Major in the front row told us
to move up to where they were. After the speech President Bush
shook hands with several veterans as far as he could reach, there was a
rope barrier between the President and the people. When the President
shook my hand I asked if I could have a picture, he said sure, then he
got Mrs. Bush and came over to have a picture taken together with my
wife and myself. One of the female photographers took the picture with
my digital camera. That was the end of a great day and one I will never
forget. Security was very tight, the secret service kept a close watch
June 5; This was a free day with sight seeing
and shopping and just lolling around.
June 6; Today we went to visit the Vatican and
St. Peters Basilica.
We were supposed to attend the noon time traditional
Benidiction by the pope but somehow he decided to go to Switzerland and
was not at the Vatican. Then we headed for Florence to our new
hotel, President Hotel.
June 7; After breakfast we went to Pisa.
We stopped at Lucca on the way to visit a church. In Pisa we
visited the tower. Some climbed to the top for a great view of the
church. One of our veterans tripped on the church step, fell and
had to be taken to the hospital. Other than a cut above the eye
and a black eye, he was OK. After dinner several persons got sick
and threw up, by morning there were about 16 that got the virus.
June 8; Today some went down town Florence for a
guided tour on foot and a small delegation went to meet with the
president of Tuscany. Gifts were exchanged and each veteran was given a
medal with their name engraved on it. Today we also prepared to leave
Italy for the good old USA.
Except Loretta and myself, we moved to another hotel in the center of
Florence where we met up with Karen and Mike and Bill and Cameo.
That started us on another 2 week of sightseeing from Florence to
Siena, to Giulianova to Venice, and Milan.
and President Bush with Cordino & Loretta Longiotti;
Loretta with Mel Sembler ambassador from U.S. to Italy.
Longiotti with the Mayor of Rome. All Pictures were taken at the
Ambassador’s residence in Rome, Italy.