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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Veteran's Day

I just spoke to my father-in-law who is a veteran of WWII. He told me a fascinating story while we were on the phone and suggested that I use it in a book sometime. He's 89 years old and his memory for detail is incredible, especially when talking about his naval service in the Mediteranean. But this story started off with, "I'm one of the only US soldiers of WWII who can say that I served on board an enemy ship."

He had me hooked. As close as I can come, here is what he said,

I was a member of a 10-man team, three officers and seven enlisted, that were code named CM&D, meaning Counter-Measures and Deception. We were responsible for a lot of electronic equipment and some sophisticated anti-radar measures that could mess up the enemy's radar. It would return a signal that was 200 yards off the actual location, so their fire would miss our ships.

When we invaded Italy, the Germans quickly grabbed all the naval vessels that they had provided Italy and moved north, but the Italians had hidden one E-boat similar to our PT boats that we captured. The allies were blocked from moving northward from Naples to Rome because the Germans held Monte Cassini, which commanded a 360-degree sweep of all the land around including the harbor.

In order to get our mine-sweepers up the harbor so we could land troops, we needed the current readings of all the German radar along the coast. So two of us from CM&D boarded the E-Boat with an Italian crew and a fisherman who had watched and charted the in and out routes between the mines in the harbor. One night we cruised slowly up and into the harbor, less than a hundred feet away from the break-water wall where German soldiers were patrolling. I don't know what we would have done if one of them had hailed us.

We made the pass in-bound and turned to head out the outbound lane and a German U-boat surfaced in the in-bound lane and the signal-man flashed us a message. I didn't catch what the message said, so I just flashed back "HH" for Heil Hitler and we both continued on our way. We installed the radar deflecting equipment on the mine-sweepers so they could move into the harbor the next week and moved on. So that was my service on an enemy ship.

I am a pacifist and am opposed to the current military actions being taken in the Middle East, and have never served in the armed forces. But that does not affect my admiration and pride in the brave people who have done what they felt was right, or what they were ordered to do, to preserve a world that could be free from tyranny. It is not up to the armed forces, however, to prevent tyranny from rising, but to the populace itself.

Thank you to all our veterans.
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