The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) operates and maintains 25 American military cemeteries located in 16 foreign countries throughout the world. I would like to take you to one of them, the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy for the 2015 Memorial Day celebration.
The cemetery itself contains 7,861 graves of American members from WWII. The majority of these individuals died in the liberation of Sicily (July 10 to August 17, 1943). In the landings in the Salerno Area (September 9, 1943). And in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January 22, 1944 to May 1944). The names of over 3,095 MIA military members are also listed in the cemetery, so we may always remember them and their sacrifices.
On memorial day this year they were holding a remembrance and I decided to go. With duty blues for memorial day weekend, I would have back to back watches on Friday and Saturday, relax on Sunday, and then it was off to Nettuno, Italy for the ceremony on Monday.
How to get there?
There were a couple of other people that also had the duty blues and decided to join me. Adam had 2 back to back night watches so he posted in the back seat while Sherrie and I blasted country music all the way North through Gaeta, following the sea up on a 2 lane road. Although it is 2.5 hours drive to get there, the distance isn’t that far, its the 2 lane road that keeps you at a pretty slow pace.
Once we arrived and found a parking spot in a cornfield (Cammy doesn’t mind these weird Italian roads most of the time), we headed right into the cemetery where we could see people setting up for the ceremony. The ceremony began at 11:00 so we had to leave very early to get there in time.
The siege for italy began in North Africa, where American forces pushed into Tunisia in an effort to cut supply lines for axis powers. Using code breakers to break encoded German messages the Americans were able to determine the time and routes of supply ships across the mediterranean.
For the liberation of Italy It took four major offensives between January and May 1944 before the line was eventually broken. Allied forces for these battles included British, US, French, Polish and Canadian Corps, concentrated along a twenty mile front between Monte Cassino and the western seaboard.
The allied forces took control of Rome on 4 June 1944, after the landing at Anzio during Operation Shingle, marching North to take the city. After Rome was taken, forces were spread out for Operation Dragoon, the allied invasion of Southern France on 15 August 1944.
These 3 small paragraphs of history barely scratch the surface. Wanna know more? Best to consult Rick Atkinson and take a look at his 3 part series entitle “The Liberation Trilogy”.
A guest speaker for the event was Vice Admiral Foggo, Commander, 6th Fleet, Commander Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa. He’s the reason I’m considering staying in the Navy a little longer.
As we stopped for a picture I got up and walked by a Veteran who was sitting on one of the benches to my right, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. He had lost all composure and he was crying loudly, remembering the past. It was a very humbling moment for me.
At the visitors center, you can meander through stories written from heroes during the liberation and the timeline of the events that took place leading up to the liberation of Italy from the Germans. This quote on the wall gives a final somber note to our day and visit of the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy.
After we left the cemetery we drove over to Anzio to have lunch and sit for a minute to ponder the Amphibious landings that occurred here. One of my friends and a previous roommate, was stationed onboard USS Anzio when we lived in Norfolk, so it was very interesting to learn the events his ship was named after.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.