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Interview with Daniel L. Curatola [6/10/2009]

Michael Sewards:

Michael Sewards, Dick Musselman, Lehigh Valley Veteran's History Project. Today is June 10th, 2009. Our interview today is with Corporal Dan Curatola, born October 26, 1919, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This is being done for the Veteran's History Project at the Library of Congress.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Okay. Now, shall I start again?

Michael Sewards:

Yeah, start again. Your name?

Daniel L. Curatola:

All right. My name is Daniel L. Curatola. I was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on October 26, 1919. As far as family and the service, my father was with the Italian Army before World War I. He was in Africa for a while too, but not in the part of Africa I was in. And after I was drafted, and I got my draft notice on December 8th, day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. And I was actually inducted on February 3rd of 1942 in Fort Meade, Maryland. And then they sent me to Camp Wheeler, Georgia, for basic training. I was there for 13 weeks.

Then they sent us to Camp Blanding, Florida, a lot of us. We went in and joined the -- First Infantry Division was in Camp Blanding Florida at the time. And then from Camp Blanding, a few weeks 1 later, they decided to go on maneuvers, and we went to Fort Benning, Georgia, on maneuvers. And they told us then that there were three hundred generals watching, because they had no army infantry division yet was prepared for war. They wanted to see if we were ready. And we had this -- these maneuvers in Fort Benning Georgia. They told us that the division was ready, and they sent us -- from Fort Benning, they sent us to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

And then August the 2nd of 1942, they sent us overseas. They put us in the Queen Mary. And if you only knew, the strange thing, while we were on the Queen Mary, we heard -- somebody had a radio. I don't know if you heard of Axis Sally. She was a traitoress. She was working for the Germans. And Axis Sally had a program. She put on American music. We were listening to the music, and then she cut in saying, the First Infantry Division is on the Queen Mary, and we have U boats ready to sink her.

I looked out over the ocean, we were on board, and you see that ship was -- the Queen Mary was all by itself, but zigzagging. You could see a wake and zigzagging as they tried to maneuver past the U boats. And the U boats did try to get us, but they missed. And we got in, and we landed in Gorig, Scotland. And after we were in Scotland, when they put us on the train from Scotland, then they went to England. And I forget now what place we went in first in England, but we had barracks there in England for a few weeks. We got a -- we got leave. We went to London, England. We saw quite a few days in London while we were there.

And the strange thing is while we were there, a couple of guys, we decided -- we had a -- we registered at a hotel and we decided to walk around, see the sights of London. And while we were walking we heard planes coming over. The Germans were bombing. And when the bombing was over, we went back to our hotel, and it wasn't there anymore. I was -- it had hit it, a direct hit. So we got in the Red Cross unit and we stayed overnight and then went back to the army. And, let's see, how long we were in England?

Then in -- it was September of 1942, which is -- you know, August the 2nd, I don't know if I mentioned, that's when we left for overseas, in 1942. And in September of '42, they sent us to Scotland again for maneuvers in Scotland on the ocean this time. They put us on different ships and practicing getting in and out of the ships, for practice for landing actually for invasions. We had to climb down nets into small assault boats. And after -- in early October -- that's right, the maneuvers were actually in October, because they actually -- in November the 8th of 1942, they put us on ships a couple days before that. From Scotland, we went to North Africa. We went past the Strait of Gibraltar. We saw that.

And when we went to Africa, we were near Algeria, we attacked a town called -- anyway, Oran was a big town. Arzu -- we took Arzu. And from Arzu we went and fought in Iran. And the fighting in Algeria, we were -- oh, I forgot to mention that when we were on the ship, before we got off the ship, we had -- the ship had loudspeakers and called into French Algeria, saying we are Americans, don't fire on us, we are coming to help you. Then we got in the assault boats, and halfway to shore all of a sudden the French 75s opened up on us. They were shooting at us. We had to wade through fire to get to shore.

Michael Sewards:

From the French?

Daniel L. Curatola:

It wasn't as bad as D-Day, but it was bad. Some of the guys got hit. We got on the shore and fought them for three days. And they surrendered. November 8th we got in. November 11th, you know, that was Armistice Day in those days. But by coincidence, that's when the French surrendered. It turned out they were Vichy French that were ordered to fight us by the Germans. So they fought us for three days and then surrendered.

But I woke up in the morning of November 11th. We had dug in on a hill. And just as I put my head up, I heard a bing. I had my helmet on. A bullet just bounced off the helmet. I looked and then I saw some of the guys, they had -- all around the hill we had dug in. They were firing down at a little white house on the bottom of the hill. And apparently -- I saw a puff of smoke -- the guy was shooting at us. So we all shot. I fired back too. Then the firing stopped.

We went down to the -- and we found out there was an Arab with a rifle, but he was dead. He had about 50 bullet holes in him. We all shot him. But that was -- after that we didn't have too much trouble in Algeria. So, I think it was -- we stayed there till December, though. I remember we had -- there was an amphitheater there. We slept on the benches and stuff in the amphitheater, the seats, for a while on the -- and, oh, while we were still there in Algeria, a plane, it looked like a British Spitfire, we said, look, there's a Spitfire. All of a sudden it come down and started strafing us. So we started shooting back, and the plane was shot down. The pilot wasn't killed.

It was pretty close to the ground when the plane crashed. And I had to take care of him. This was December 31st of 1942. He was put in the hospital. He was wounded. He was hurt pretty bad, but he still -- he survived. And I had to guard him in the hospital over New Year's Eve. So that's how New Year's Eve was. I was there.

And after we got to -- I asked the German what his name was, I still remember that, and he said Arthur Sukon (phonetic). He didn't know too much of English, but was able to talk. But I wasn't allowed to carry a rifle. They gave me a revolver, a pistol. If he would have tried to escape, I would have pulled and shot him. But he didn't try to escape while I had to guard him in the hospital. They didn't want rifles in there, but it was okay to have a gun -- a sidearm.

Michael Sewards:

So a German was flying a Spitfire?

Daniel L. Curatola:

A British Spitfire, yeah. Apparently, I found out later, they captured the Spitfire, and that's what they used to shoot at us so we thought it was friendly until they thought they could hit some of us. But we all shot it. And it was shot down. And we found out -- or Sukon (phonetic) said that they had captured that plane from -- they captured a pilot or something.

But, anyway, after that was over, about the following January -- well, this was the beginning of January. But then they sent us to Tunisia, because Rommel's army was fighting the British 8th Army for several years there. So we had to go into Tunisia. And that's where we started to -- one battle after another. The first problem I had was we had -- in Ousseltia Valley, they sent just a gang of us. We were specialists in -- we had to take care of ammunition and taking care of checking for landmines and things, that we had to learn that, how to handle landmines, things like that.

And while we were setting up a camp, we figured it's behind the rear echelon there, behind the (inaudible) lines. Next thing I know, we -- no trucks came in with food. We wondered what happened, and then we found out, we were surrounded. The Germans surrounded us. They thought we had a company, a division there. It was just one group, a little gang of us. We were stuck there for about three days. We had nothing to eat.

Finally a guy came in with a cow, and -- some Arab was coming through the field, it was his cow. We asked him if he could buy the cow. He said, oh, no. Well the corporal got a gun and shot him. And we paid him anyway. And then we cut up the meat. It was tough as heck. You know, it takes a while to get the conditioned meat like that. But at least we had one meal there.

But finally one of our companies in the First Division, I think it was Company L, broke the German lines at that side and we were able to get through. But before that we were trapped and weren't able to eat for three days. But that was the first thing. Then after Ousseltia Valley, then we went to -- we had several other small battles with the German army, I don't know which. The biggest battle we had was -- first I had a friend, I probably mentioned before, we grew up together. His name is Lefty Steve Heinyak (phonetic). But, anyway, we grown up together and we were both drafted the same day. And when we went to basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, together, then when we went to the First Division, they put me in the 16th Infantry of the division, and they put him in the 18th. There was three regiments in the Division, 16th, 18th and 26th. And after every battle we were getting together, and saying, you know, thank God we were making every battle. Guys were hit and so on. But we met pretty regularly.

And then there was -- one thing I remember, before the battle -- the big battle, there was a hill we had to take. I forget what the town was. But this was on Easter Sunday 1943. It was around April, I guess, of '43. And just as we were going to the hill, we got shelled by our own artillery. There was -- timing was off. They were supposed to shell the hill before we attacked. And they attacked as we were going in. And that's where we got our first friendly fire. A couple of buddies of mine were killed in that by our own artillery. But we finally got to take that hill afterwards when they finally called off the artillery. After that, when I met Lefty again, he said they had just done the Kasserine Pass. That was a tough battle.

And only -- at that time, for some reason they split the division. They wouldn't have us together. They had one regiment go one place, one -- so the 18th Infantry went to Kasserine Pass, and they took a hell of a beating. Lefty said that he was one of only six guys left out of two hundred. Most of them were all killed or wounded, and they had to replace a bunch of them. And then a month later, they finally wised up and put our division together. We attacked Kasserine Pass again. I was in on that battle. That was a big battle too. And we got -- we won that one. And we pushed the Germans back.

Then they told us -- I forget what day this was, but it was another holiday. But we were told to attack a town called Gafsa. Oh, it was -- I forget. One of the fall holidays before that. But I remember holidays, but I don't remember which one. But, anyway, we went -- we were supposed to attack Gafsa, and we found out when we got to Gafsa, the Germans had pulled back, and that they had an Italian division fighting. But the Italians surrendered quickly, so we didn't have too much battle there. But then we moved in El Guettar. This was sort of about the third week in April, something like that. It was mostly about -- we fought about three weeks at El Guettar.

And that was the worst battle I ever had in North Africa, because it turned out that the -- at El Guettar they put in the 10th Panzer Division. That was the division that started the War when it rolled through Poland. The panzer division is a tank division. And they had all their tanks and guns, and they thought that they would have no problem fighting an infantry division against tanks. But what then didn't know was we got bazookas, which was a new weapon at the time. And we used bazookas firing and knocked out some of the tanks with bazookas. We did have antitank guns, but they weren't as accurate. The bazookas were more accurate.

It took three weeks when they finally wiped out the division. Actually, they told us after it was over. Before we fought in the battle they told us to take our insignia off. They didn't want the Germans to know that we were the First Division. But after the battle was over there they told us to put our patches, the Germans will know now. Because they said the 10th Panzer Division, there's about 10,000 graves. They said that we wiped them out almost. So they said from now on the Germans will know where we are. So we sewed on our division patches. From then on we always wore them no matter where we were. It didn't matter if they knew where we were or not.

Michael Sewards:

Was Patton in charge at that time?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah, Patton was one of the top generals then with us. And Rommel was their chief leader. And then finally, our final battle in Africa, was around May of 1943. We went to a place near Tunis, and that's where we had the last battle. That took about a week, till about the -- I guess it was about the first week in May. The Germans finally surrendered. We had thousands of German prisoners. So that's when they said Rommel's army was finally finished.

Rommel, we found out later, took a plane and went to Europe. So he wasn't captured, but we got most of his army, what was left of it. So then we thought, boy, now maybe they are going to send us home or, you know, for a break. What happened, they sent us back, and a couple weeks later they said we had to attack Sicily. And that was July 10th of 1943, we invaded. Again we had to wade through the water to attack Sicily. And it wasn't as bad -- well, it was pretty bad when we went there, guys were killed, but not near as bad as D-Day and later on at Normandy. It was a little bit worse than -- no, it was worse than Africa, I think. So we didn't have too much -- what happened was the first few days we were fighting some Italian units that didn't want to fight. Then surrendered every chance they got. Then later on we -- we found the Germans started. But it took us only about six or eight weeks to clean out Sicily.

But I saw almost all of Sicily. We went by foot from one town to the other. And almost everywhere we went in the background you would see Mount Etna, smoke, and, you know, almost everywhere. I felt strange. Every part of Sicily, no matter what town we were in, we saw that. You know, years later when I went to this -- I went with my wife years later to Sicily, and the place we went and landed near Calabria, the town of Sicily. You couldn't see Etna from there. I thought that's strange, because during the war, that must have been about thirty or forty towns, I forget how many towns there were that we fought one through another, and we could see Mount Etna from anywhere there.

But when the fighting was over in Sicily again, we thought, well, maybe now they'll give us a break. But what they did is -- oh, I forgot one note I had, that when -- when I -- before we invaded Africa, it was October 26th, my birthday. We were on ships maneuvering. So I says here on my first birthday in the service, October '42, I was on a ship. Then in October '43 is when they put us on a ship to come back to England after -- first we had fought in Sicily, then they sent us back to Africa, then from Africa on October 26th I happened to be on a ship then again sailing for England. And we went to England. And then of course we invaded Normandy.

We had -- you know, the strange thing was all the fighting we did, when we got to England, they had us practicing fighting. We had gone through it all. We were almost all veterans of eight months of fighting. It was eight months in Africa, plus a couple of -- about eight weeks in Sicily, and we had to practice the fighting. But we did that. And then when they got us on the ship for D-Day, and, well, if -- you know, when we were -- we had nothing to do on the ship.

They told us on June the 5th at night to keep our war uniforms on, don't take any uniforms off, if you want to sleep you had to lie on the deck and sleep, but keep your guns, keep your full pack on. We were all ready to -- we didn't know when we were going to land, but it was early -- or -- yeah, early at night of June 5th. But then June 6th, about six in the morning -- they never told us, then I found out later that our battalion was the first one in. They just put us on these assault boats.

And the first thing we knew is after we climbed down the nets onto the boat and started for the -- the Navy took us as close as they could, which is maybe a couple hundred yards from shore. We had to wade the rest of the way. But then that's when they were shooting at us. And that's the first thing we knew. And when the ramp of our boat went down, I saw this, that an officer was killed. We had to step through the water up to our necks. And I had to keep my rifle up, because I didn't want it to get wet. We couldn't shoot, but they were shooting at us. You could hear the bullets whizzing by.

Every once in a while you hear a guy yell when he was hit. And you would see a guy go down. And you would see other guys floating in the water. A lot of the guys got killed on the way to shore. And I took my time wading. Maybe that's why I was just a little bit slower than some of the other guys, which is why when I got to the beach and I heard the whine, like I said, the shells, and when I went on the beach, when I stepped on, and all these guys from the boat, they just walked a little bit faster than I did, or maybe they were in front of me in the boat too.

But in a couple of minutes, I would have been dead otherwise if I'd have been in with the rest of them. I came that close. But all day that day, we could hear the bullets whizzing around. You hear the shells. And I thought they were always shells. I found out when I read the book later that Rommel had mined the beach too. And a lot of the bangs we heard going off was guys stepping on mines too. And then when I -- after we finally -- that when the night was over, and I went up, and we climbed up a little bit on the hill, off the beach, and dug in, and that's when I looked down at the ocean. They were still coming in. And that's when I saw one boat sail up in the air about 30 feet and went down in the water. A mine hit it. And -- well, that was the end of D-Day.

Michael Sewards:

I have a question for you, Dan.

Daniel L. Curatola:

I'm sorry.

Michael Sewards:

Prior -- before you -- the evening before D-Day?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah.

Michael Sewards:

What were you told about D-Day, as far as what to expect?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Oh, they told us there was an average division of Germans, that it would be no problem. And it turned out, that was the intelligence, that there was an average division there. But what we didn't know is that they pulled them out the day before and put in -- they didn't know we were coming. Just by dumb luck it was they had this SS division ready. And, of course, they had their guns, their ammunition ready, just maneuvers. And then we hit, they had everything ready for us, and that is how we took a slaughtering. And this is Omaha Beach. It didn't happen at -- the other beaches weren't hit that bad. But we happened to have -- the average division was not there.

Michael Sewards:

Do you remember what sector you were on in Omaha Beach? Which area you were at, which sector you were on? Which sector were you on at Omaha Beach?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Sector. Easy Red they called it. Easy Red was the sector. We were told where to head from there to unite with the group and do what we had to do.

Michael Sewards:

How many casualties did the First Division have?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, I don't know what the whole division had at the time, but they told us that our battalion, in a battalion of a thousand men, that we probably lost about nine hundred the first day, either killed or wounded, 90 percent casualties. The rest of the division also had a lot of casualties, but not as much as us, because we were the first ones in there. But I'll tell you, I have this book here the First Division gave me after the war was over, and it gives statistics in there. And in the statistics it says during the whole war, World War II, we had 14,000 men always in at one time. But the casualties we had were over 23,000, about 150 percent, meaning a lot of them. And over -- all together we must have used about 40,000 men, and about 23,000 were either killed or wounded. So that is the statistic. Now, I don't know all the statistics on D-Day alone, but this was the statistics on the war.

Michael Sewards:

How many men made it off your landing craft? Do you know that?

Daniel L. Curatola:

How many men made it? I don't know how many. Well, most of us got out. Like I said, I saw one landing craft that didn't make it because the thing was sailed in the air. But, I don't know, I think most of us made -- I don't know how many boats. There were so many. You could see as far as the eye could follow, you could see boats from the ships. It definitely was the greatest armada in history. There were more ships. There must have been hundreds of them. As far as the eye could see, there were ships. And every one of these ships had boats, the assault boats, and we had to clamber down the nets and get into the boat and head for the shore.

Michael Sewards:

Were you under fire from any of the German pillboxes?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah. Well, that's where they were. The pillboxes were firing down on us on the beach as soon as we hit. That shell that hit these guys all around us must have been from a pillbox. You know, I saw that -- one of pillboxes there when I went in 1984, on the anniversary of D-Day. The gun was still there, and it was right looking down on the beach. We couldn't see them, but they could see us shooting down like that. That's where we were sitting ducks for a while. That's why Rommel was sure that we would never make it to the beach, that we would never get a foothold, because they had all those guns all around surrounding us, and the booby traps and mines. But we made it. But there was a casualty total. I don't know what the whole division, but we lost a lot, because we were the first ones in there. The rest of the division was still -- came in the same day, the first day. And they were -- we were the only experienced division. Then there was the 28th Division was near us I think on one side. I forget what the other division was on the other. But those divisions didn't know what they were doing, because they had no battle experience. That's where the guys -- you would see guys screaming their heads off. They were running the wrong way. And they didn't know -- they didn't know what to do, where we were knew what we were supposed to -- even though the officers were hollering at us, like, get under cover. What cover, I said. We couldn't get under cover. We had to find a certain spot. So that's the strange thing about it. I listened to them. The officers were by the wall, you know, under cover and yelling that we should get under cover. And we were told to go to a certain place, and that was the way we were drilled, to dig in. And I just kept right on going, and I guess like a zombie, never even thinking, I didn't expect to live from one minute to the next. But as long as I was, I kept on going. The only time I would stopped is when a guy would yell for help, and I tried to help him when he was hit.

Michael Sewards:

You helped some wounded people?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah. There were a lot of wounded and a lot of dead. Like I said, the first fight I saw on D-Day was when these guys were -- they were on a (inaudible) one of them was dead.

Michael Sewards:

Where were the medics?

Daniel L. Curatola:

The medics. Well, we had -- the medics -- there weren't enough of them, I guess. Because there were thousands coming on the beach. You know, our battalion -- our battalion alone was a thousand men. And there was three battalions and a regiment, and nine battalions in a division. So there were so many men, all of us. And I don't know maybe how many aid men they had to each. I don't know. But each unit had several aid men. But they weren't enough, because too many guys were getting hit. So that's the reason I had to help them, because I said -- I'd tell them, I'd try to console them a little bit, and say the aid men will get to you pretty soon, you know. But I don't know if they did or not. Some of the guys might have lived and some of them didn't.

Michael Sewards:

Were the Germans targeting the medics? Were the Germans targeting the medics?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, I'll tell you, I didn't know if they were shooting at them or not. But I do know when I was in grave registration, we found one medic, they had a star on their helmet, and the bullet went right through the center of the star. Some guy, sniper, must have shot definitely for that. So some of them were hit, I'm sure. I know I saw this one guy, but this was during the Battle of the Bulge. Because with the Battle of the Bulge is when I was with grave registration. I worked there, and I saw a lot of guys get hit like that. I saw one time they brought -- they were bringing guys back by truckloads to me. And I remember seeing one guy, it looked like his head was bashed in, yet I saw his jaw move. He wasn't dead yet, but I couldn't say I knew that he could live more than a couple minutes after that. But I saw a lot of that stuff too.

Michael Sewards:

What time on D-Day did things calm down, Dan; do you remember?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, it was -- for us it was pretty late at night. It was maybe seven-eight o'clock at night. It was just starting to get dusk that they weren't firing at us that much any more. The Germans wanted to get some sleep too, I guess. But almost the whole day it was going on, there was firing going on, and guys were getting killed all around us.

Michael Sewards:

Did you expect a counterattack?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yes. They told us -- I forget, a captain or lieutenant told us, he said that the Germans were going to counterattack with a tank division. Rommel's tanks were going to come over. We found out later though that Rommel was going to attack us, but Hitler decided that this was not the main invasion point, and he wanted Rommel to hold us off. So we held it off. That saved a lot of us. Because even though we were dug in, if we were finding a tank coming at us too, that would have been tough. But that's what we expected, but it didn't happen. Then the next day we were able to keep moving. We finally took the town of Colleville, which is a town very close to Omaha Beach. And it was the third day in that I was wounded. When the Frenchmen came in and said they knew where there were landmines, I was the only one could speak it, because I learned -- from a French phrase book I learned to speak French, and nobody else did, so I was the interpreter for the company. So, anyway, I went along with them. And that's where -- I think -- the book, in fact, says that I was hit my a mine too, because we were looking for a landmine. But what really happened I think is, you know, we were walking. When the Frenchman said he knows where it is, we were walking on, we were walking right toward the German line, because the Germans weren't that far from us yet, you know, where they were dug in. And finally this corporal got worried. He was a corporal, and a guy with a mine detector. There were three of us. And the corporal said you better ask him how much longer we're going, because we're going right into the German camp. So I told the Frenchman, I says how much longer. And he says, just about now he says, and as soon as he said now, all of a sudden I felt that stuff ripping through me. I never heard the explosion of a landmine. I didn't hear anything. So I think it was an ambush. But I don't -- I thought at first maybe it's a shock out here. But I've heard -- all day long I was hearing, bing, either the shells or the mines going off. And I've heard mines go off. I've seen cars get blown up. I've seen trucks get blown up. I know that it's a loud noise. And I did not hear it, if that mine went off. It's strange. And then, of course, the corporal came -- or the -- the guy with the mine detector, his arm was shot off. He came in and said the corporal is dead. I said what happened to the Frenchman. He says he took off down the road. He was the only guy that wasn't hit. So I think he might have been a collaborator. He probably didn't realize there would only be three of us were going. Maybe he thought he was going to trap a company or something.

Michael Sewards:

Where did you get wounded at?

Daniel L. Curatola:

What part?

Michael Sewards:

Yeah.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, here's one where my left arm was almost ripped off. They had to pull the thing together to sew it up. My right leg was almost ripped off. I got hit in the back, and the hip, and also in the wrist in the front. So I was hit from the front and the back. That's another thing. I said how in the hell could a mine hit me in the front and back and not blow me apart? So I think that they shot us from both -- they ambushed us. They probably had us from two directions, from front and back. Because there was one bullet, it looked like a bullet, was stuck in the skin here. That came from the back and just on the side, and I could see it just missing me in the skin. I told the doctors when I was in the hospital. They cut it and took it out. But I said that came from the back. But then there's -- this thing here had to be from the front. It just hit me in the wrist here. It can't be from the back. And this arm could have been front or back; I don't know. And the same -- oh, the leg was almost torn off. In the back there was really a big hole, a gaping hole there. So they thought they were going to either amputate my arm and leg, or leg or -- but the first thing I heard these aid men say when they picked me up, this guy lost too much blood, they said, he ain't going to make it. And then we went to the hospital. They took care of me, extra care. Finally after a week I asked the nurse, how come you're around me more than you're around these others? The whole ward was full of wounded soldiers. They said we didn't expect you to live. Then they said if you lived they said we thought we were going to have to amputate your arm and your leg. So they saved both. And they had some new procedure to save this arm. Because I didn't know about that until after maybe about a -- almost a month I was in the hospital. The guy that worked on me on the arm, he had a couple of medical generals, tops, and he had them explaining this new procedure he did to save my arm. So that was something new.

Michael Sewards:

How long were you in the hospital for?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Four months. After one month it was just -- I remember the 4th of July. It was almost a month I was in the hospital in England, I saw suddenly the bed was covered with blood. And I took hold of the nurse, the nurse called the doctor, and they brought me right down fast to the operating room downstairs, no anesthesia, no nothing, and started working, because they thought -- they had to work real fast, because I lost so much blood already. They thought I wouldn't make it. And they found out that it was a piece of shrapnel in the leg that they left in, and it had just cut an artery or something, and that's why I was bled. So that kept me longer, an extra couple of months. So that four months included about a month or two I was in rehab. But I was still pretty weak from the arm and leg was still in bad shape. I was on crutches for about over a month in the hospital before I finally was able to walk. But when they put me -- when they sent me back to the unit, it was not to the First Division. They sent me -- when they sent me to France. That's when they put me in the unit for -- to reorder for some other reassignment, what they call limited service, because I couldn't be infantry again. I wasn't in shape. So that's when they put me in grave registration. They put us on a plane -- on a truck -- a train. They said, we are going to Belgium; you don't have to worry, Belgium has been taken from -- there's no Germans in Belgium, you're okay. And so almost halfway to Belgium -- well, we were in Belgium already. Suddenly we heard the whine of damn M88 shells, one on one side of the train and another on the other side. The Germans were firing at us. There was not supposed to be any Germans in Belgium, what are they doing firing at us? We found out later this was December 15th, 1944, it was the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. And we got right in the middle. We were heading right to the spot where the Germans were heading. So quickly they organized us, and they quickly put me into the grave registration, and some of the other guys were assigned other places. And I went through the Battle of the Bulge. Some of the guys with my unit were killed when they picked up bodies that were booby trapped too, so that Germans were pulling that stunt to. But I managed to make it through that. And after the Battle of the Bulge was over, that's about the last five months of the war, they assigned me to this labor supervision group. They called it 1898 labor supervision. It was 250 German prisoners of war. And they said that they needed some -- they had a black MP troop guarding on the outside. It had a big wire fence. But inside, in order to keep the Germans busy, they needed noncoms. That's why they promoted me to corporal, so I could get in and do the ordering. One man at a time, that's all they could get in, with 250 Germans. We couldn't go in with rifles either, because we could be overcome, and they would take the rifles. So we had to go in unarmed and boss the prisoners around. We had no problem there. But I remember at night, I was the only man there at night. It was night shift. And when I got up in the morning, I told them to call the role. There was a German interpreter. And he called the role. And then I heard him say, somebody say, ein man missing. You know, and I didn't know German, but it sounded like one man missing to me. And sure enough the interpreter came over and says a guy escaped. So, there was a phone there. I called the captain. He came in, and he got the German prisoners to help us to find this -- this guy. And while the German prisoners were working, I heard one of the guys, he was cursing in Italian. I understand Italian too. And I said, hey, are you an Italian soldier. He said, no, I'm polish, but I had an Italian girlfriend. And I said, what are your cursing about. He said this darn guy that tried to escape. He says, the war is almost over, and he said all the Germans are mad at him now, because they are treating us so good, he says. We get the best food. We get the same food -- they got the same food we had. And we had the Articles of War and the Geneva Convention Rules. We had to tell them that we had to treat them right, and we did. And they knew it. And they were afraid that they wouldn't be treated right now because the guy tried to escape. But we did find the guy and put him back, and we didn't treat them any differently. But I just thought then, what happened then, the way we were treating German prisoners of war, we were told to treat them right, that when you read about Bush and Cheney thinking torture is okay, and the CIA torturing and waterboarding, which isn't supposed to be torture, and I was really ticked off. I said it's a disgrace, because I remember during World War II, all the countries seemed to be -- they really respected the United States, because we were an honorable country like that. We treated -- even the Germans and the Japs, were mistreating a lot -- some of them were mistreating and some weren't. But they were mistreated. But nobody as far as I know Americans ever mistreated any prisoners. We were treating them right. And now here Bush and Cheney, forget the Articles of War, forget the Geneva Convention, forget the United Nations, we'll go it ourself. That's why I have no use for them. I don't know what you guys think of Bush and Cheney, but I think he's the worst president we ever had in history. And when I saw even three and four people fighting in Iraq where I thought that war was never necessary, I think in my mind I see guys that were killed during the war. And I think, oh, Bush and Cheney see numbers, it don't bother them at all. So there's a difference. But the fact that I had that experience with German prisoners of war, I knew that we treated them right, and I said that's completely different from what they are doing these days, or in the days of Bush and Cheney, anyway.

Michael Sewards:

The German POWs, were they older people or were they younger soldiers or --

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, you know, the German soldiers, you mean?

Michael Sewards:

Yeah, the POWs.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, they were mostly older. Some of them were real young, they looked like 16 years old, but most of them were in about their forties and fifties. That's because it was pretty late in the war. They lost all their younger guys earlier in the war, I think. They used so many trying to fight Russia and fight the Americans, especially when we set up another front for them in Africa. And, yeah, most of Germans were a lot older than we were. In fact, then I remember talking to -- when we were in England, talking to some of the civilians, and they were surprised. They said you guys are so young. The soldiers there, even English soldiers, were older than us. I said, well, we were -- we had a lot of young people. We hadn't been in a war before at the time. But that's one thing that impressed me too, the fact that we were so young compared to them. And the Germans, most of them, were pretty old.

Michael Sewards:

Do you remember where you were when the war was over?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah. When the war was over, it was May of 1945, we were in France. I was in Verdun when -- and that's one of the pictures I have of me in 1945 at Verdun. That's where we were when the war was over. I was with the labor supervision troop that they sent us to then in Verdun. And I stayed there till August. No, it was -- it was the end of July when they sent the -- they said they were sending me home, because on a point system they had, you know, 85 points you get out. I had over 100, because there was a point for every month you were in the service, 2 points for every month overseas, about 5 points for every medal. And I had quite a few medals, so I had well over 100. So I was one of the very first that they said could go. Usually they were telling us during the war that the war plus 6 months before you get home. But I got home three months in August, three months after the war was over, because of my points system. And I came home. The funny thing is, I got back to the States. They put us on a liberty ship. Took us about two weeks to get home, I think, a small ship. And I got back just about the beginning of August. I was discharged August the 4th of 1945. And the thing is, we had left for overseas August the 2nd of 1942, so I was almost exactly three years overseas. It was actually a little bit more that I saw -- I never saw my family. And as far as I think you asked one of those questions about how you contact the family? We would write a letter. It took a month for them to get the letter, another month before the letter answer would come back. So about every couple of months that's the way it was. We had no phones, no nothing. We couldn't contact our family. So my family didn't see me for well over three years. In fact, the thing is, when I was drafted in February of '42, we never got a leave. The only way I got home is when then sent us to Indiantown Gap ready for overseas, on weekends they let us out. And I took a bus and came to home a couple of weekends. But they never told us when we were going to leave. So what -- after about two times, two or three times I was home, I left, I said, I'll see you next week. Next week they never saw me, because what they did was they through a guard around Indiantown Gap where we were, to make sure nobody got out. We couldn't even -- and, of course, we wouldn't contact the family. So they never knew -- they wondered why we didn't come home until maybe a couple of months later when I was finally able to write. And then when we wrote, you know, everything was censored. We couldn't say where we were. We had to say somewhere in some England, or somewhere in of Africa, or somewhere in Sicily, wherever we were, somewhere, and not say anything about the fighting. And when I was wounded, all I could just say is I had a sore arm and leg. I couldn't even say what happened, nothing. But they did get the telegram saying I was seriously wounded. That's why I have a copy. But I don't think they followed up like they were supposed to either. When I came home, that's all they had to show me was a telegram.

Michael Sewards:

Dan, four days ago was the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Can you tell us your thoughts on that day?

Daniel L. Curatola:

On D-Day. Well, that brought back memories. I thought back on what was probably one of the worst days -- in fact, the worst day of my life. Because during the battles in Africa, and Sicily, I saw friends dying around me too, but not that many, not that all day, every day. That was -- that D-Day was the worst day in my life, because -- and actually that's what I thought of. I just thought back of -- even though it is 65 years, it was like yesterday when I think of the guys, my friends. Look, I said, I think I mentioned, when we were on the ship and had nothing else to do, we played blackjack. And we says -- only a few cents, but it wound up that they owed me about 30 bucks. I said, well, we'll see you after the battle is over. None of them came back. The guys I played with, they all were killed.

Michael Sewards:

Must have been a pretty emotional trip when you went back with your son in 1984.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Um-hmm. That was something. When I went back, the first place we went to was Omaha Beach. And the mayor of Colleville, the town we took right away, he was there, and he remembered how the First Division went in there. And he thanked us. He brought plastic bags. He said you're not supposed to, but he says scoop up some of the Omaha Beach sand and take it home. And so I did. I probably have it upstairs somewhere, the sand. That's the one thing I remember. And then from Omaha Beach -- well, that's the first thing we saw in France. But we went first to England on this trip. And there we were in London, and some of the spots that we had British people that remembered our troop, our First Division was there, and those towns, and they gave us a royal welcome. Then we went to France. The first thing we saw was Omaha Beach. It was a battlefield tour. We went to several other places where we fought through France, and then through Belgium.

Michael Sewards:

Did you visit the cemetery?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah. The cemetery was right above the beach at Omaha Beach. I remember I showed my son where I got off the beach and wound up and dug in on top of the hill. The thing is that now they cemented it. But I said I remember the mud that we walked off the beach and then where we dug in. I told him exactly around the spot where we did. And then right above where we dug in is where the cemetery is now. We want to the cemetery, and I saw names of the some of the guys I knew. And there was Teddy Roosevelt. I saw his cross, and what -- his medal of honor that he got, before he was -- he died of a heart attack. But Teddy Roosevelt was a good friend of mine too. I mean a friend. I was only a private first class at the time. He talked to -- you know, he was a general, and he talked to us just like he was a buddy. But I used to talk to him a lot before we were on maneuvers and before we went to the invasion of Africa. That's where I saw him last, I think, on maneuvers. But he was a nice guy. And we went to Belgium. There was a big wall, and the names on the battle -- I forget what that place was, where the Germans slaughtered a lot of American prisoners. Their names were there. One of the names was Corporal MacDunn -- he was as a good friend of mine. I didn't realize at the time when I saw him, he was captured and killed by the Germans.

Michael Sewards:

Was that Malmaday?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Malmaday, yeah.

Michael Sewards:

That was in Belgium.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah, I remember that now. So we saw a lot of places like that. Almost everywhere -- no matter where we went on this trip in '84, we went to cemeteries. Even in Germany there were quite a few Americans and Germans buried in the cemetery. And everywhere we went, they had monuments to the First Division with the names of the people that died in that area. For instance, on Omaha Beach, the monument I saw there had the guy that was killed, the corporal, when I was wounded. Because we were still in the Omaha area, the Omaha Beach area. In fact, when I was wounded, they sent me back to the beach to the hospital. And the Germans were still shelling the beach. The doctors were working on me said, "Hit the dirt", and they had to get up and work again. I thought here I made I had through the beach, and they're liable to kill me right here. But I made it through. They put me on a ship and sent me to England the next day. But that was something to see when we went back. My son was there, and he was impressed. Some of the towns we went, that's where I saw like they have a couple of certificates. They also gave us medals and certificates. One of the towns, I forget what it was, in Belgium, we had liberated in September. And it just happened this was September again, forty years later, and they were ready to celebrate. They had signs welcome First Division, because they were ready to celebrate our liberating them. So that was really nice. We went there too. And there was one of the places in Belgium, their own Belgian soldiers were going to march on this D-Day anniversary, and they asked us to march with them. My son and I went together. My son was really impressed with that. He was 28 years old at the time. So it was interesting.

Michael Sewards:

Going back to Sicily, did you have any contact with Patton at all during the campaign in Sicily?

Daniel L. Curatola:

I don't recall having any contact with Patton. He might have been doing some overall -- but we didn't see the top generals there. I saw Patton. Where did I see him? Maybe it was in Sicily, yeah. After the fighting was over, come to think of it, when he slapped that soldier? Remember reading about that?

Michael Sewards:

Yeah.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, we had the whole division gathered. I'm pretty sure it was in Sicily. We had all in a circle on the hills like, and Patton stood in the center and talked. And we didn't know -- he never apologized for slapping the soldier. What he did is say that his idea is that we have to kill the Germans, we have to fight, fight, fight, a real pep talk to fight. And we wondered what the heck is this all about? Then later on we read in the paper that Eisenhower asked him to apologize to every unit in the division. He had to do that when he made that speech. That was supposed to be his apology, but we never knew it was an apology. That's the only time I saw Patton personally.

Michael Sewards:

You were a busy guy. When did you find time to be the checker champion?

Daniel L. Curatola:

To be the what?

Michael Sewards:

Checker champion?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Oh. I learned that when I was in -- well, I was 21 years old, in Bethlehem. I just -- the strange thing about that is I had an older brother. Well, he died when he was only 56. He died in '73. But he was three years older than me, and he used to beat me at every game, everything. I was about 7 years old, and he was 10, and some guy taught him how to play checkers, so he said he was going to teach me. He played one game with me, and I beat him. First time I ever beat him at anything. And he never played me again. I said, hey, this is a good game. And I played with other kids. And I started having no problem. It just came automatically to me. I had no problem playing checkers. So then 19 -- I remember 1940, I was 21 years old, they needed somebody to organize, said they were going to have a city championship. So I figured, well, I got nothing to lose, because I don't play too much, because guys don't want to play me. They play me one or two games and they quit because they lose. So it was a breeze. I went through the -- I forget, I only had to play three or four guys, and every one of them was easy, and I wound up winning. In fact, though, they also had the junior championship for kids 18 and younger. And my brother, younger brother, I taught him to play checkers. He could never beat me, but he won the junior championship while I won the senior championship. And after that I didn't -- as far as checkers is concerned in the service, when I was in the hospital, I played checkers. There was -- and I -- they wanted to have a checker tournament, and I won that with no problem. Then on one of these cruises I used to go with my wife, I had about eight or mine cruises after I retired. And one of them they decided to hold a checker championship on the cruise, and I won that. And one of guys, before he played, he said he was the Texas state champ. He said nobody is going to beat me. Well, I beat him in the finals. I said you were a state champ? He said, yeah, but I guess you're better than I am. But that is the only time I -- but outside of those things like that, now of course my son, he had an old computer, and I don't know much about computers. He showed me how to put checkers on it. He said they have professional checker players that made this thing very hard. He said -- my son, I taught him to play, and he could beat everybody but he couldn't beat me. So he said he couldn't beat this computer, and he said now you're going to get competition. I played, and I beat them 90 percent of the time. The only time I lose is when I'm thinking of something else. They won once in a while. But I see the mistakes they made when they organized this thing on the computer. Because they made some mistakes on fundamentals that I think they should never make. They had a lot of trick plays, which I can spot. But they also don't know that -- well, if you -- I don't know if you know anything about checkers. But in checkers you have to keep your king row -- don't open it if you don't have to. And that's the first thing they do is open up, so I could easily beat them that easy. And there's a few other things too, fundamentals that they don't seem to have. They have the trick plays, and they can beat other guys with trick plays, but they can't beat me because I know them. But anyway, it's competition for me. That's the only thing I do now, because nobody plays me live. And of course now (inaudible) wanted to play me. He seen that I beat him real easy, so he wants to keep playing so he'll learn. I says, keep playing. I mean, I can teach him a lot of things.

Michael Sewards:

You should write a book. You should write a book.

Daniel L. Curatola:

I should. But, no. But it's -- how can I write when there's -- nobody plays with me anyway. It's just -- I could really -- I could tell these people -- I think that -- what I figured out that they -- they don't understand the fundamentals or whatever, and they are supposed to be experts that did this for the computer. I think the fact is that, when I was a kid, and when I grew up, almost everybody played checkers. But today they don't. And I think that the best checker players, I'm now already 90, so the guys that were older than me that were good, they're all gone now. I think the guys are the best they have today, but they don't compare probably with my generation. And that's why probably I don't think that I have the competition. But I just -- so the only thing -- I told my grandchildren too. I said but once I teach them how to play, they won't play me because they still don't like to lose, my son and my grandchildren. But that's the only people I played with all these year now, because people play me once or twice, and they don't want to play again.

Michael Sewards:

Dan, after the war, did you keep in touch with any of your friends or reunions?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yes. I did for a while. But there were only a few left. Most of them friends that I went with that I was drafted with, like I said, my best friend Lefty, he was killed by a sniper in Germany. He's the one we used to meet after every battle. But when I was wounded I wrote a letter saying -- they were starting to send people home that went overseas over two years. We were already over two years overseas. I got the letter (inaudible), and I found out later he was killed in Aachen, Germany. But there weren't too many of the friends that I went with. I did go to one reunion soon after I got out, a few years, a First Division reunion. But there weren't that many people there. I've joined -- I don't know about joining organizations. I belong to the First Infantry Division, the Society of the First Division they call it. I get mail regularly from there. They are the ones that sponsored this trip in 1984 also. So I still have contact with them. And I had the first -- my regiment, the 16th Infantry, they also have a chapter, and I belong to them. I also belong to the DAV, and the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Purple Heart Union. So I'm in about five different veterans organizations. But originally I did go meet them -- and the Purple Heart too. But as I got older, and then the problems came up and my wife got sick, and after that I just stopped going. But I still get letters regularly from the DAV and the VFW and the Purple Heart and the First Division and 16th Infantry. So I just get contact through the mail, but I don't see them people personally any more.

Michael Sewards:

Anything else, Dick?

Michael Sewards:

When you first got back from overseas, how was your reception here in Bethlehem?

Daniel L. Curatola:

That was a strange thing. I never thought of it that way, but when I came home, everybody, welcome home. But nobody asked me about the war, and I didn't talk about it. They just accepted me. They were so glad to see me back. Even my family. There was very little I told them about the war. They knew I had been wounded, because of course -- but they didn't ask too much and nobody talked about it. And I actually didn't talk about the war for 43 years, until 1988 when this Bethlehem Globe Times reporter, Lt. Carl, came to the house and talked to me for about four hours and brought back all the memories, and talked and everything. And after I talked to him and they put this write-up in the paper, for about a week I couldn't sleep. I was back dreaming I was in the battle again. And it was horrible. So I finally told them at the VA, I don't know what's happening, I says, but I can't sleep nights. And they said -- they checked me, and they asked me, do you see anything traumatic lately? And I told them, well, maybe this story about -- the 1988 story. And they said what you have is posttraumatic stress. I said, what, after 43 years? They said, well, you locked it up in your head for too long. I had to have medication, Buspar. And I still take it today, although I don't think I need it. But after about a week or so, I was able to talk about the war, and now it doesn't bother me anymore. But for a long time I never even thought of it. I said -- I went to -- when that first write-up was in 1988, the guys I worked with, and some of them I worked with for twenty or thirty years, they said they didn't even know I was in the service. They were surprised. They said why didn't you tell us? I said nobody asked me, so I didn't talk. But that was a strange thing about when I come back, that I never even thought about it until after that thing came out that people never asked me, and I just locked it up inside me.

Michael Sewards:

They were just glad you were home safe.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Hmm?

Michael Sewards:

They were just glad you came home safe.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Oh, yeah. Oh, well, I'll tell you, as far as that's concerned, when I walked in the door, there was no telephone. We didn't have a phone when I left for overseas. And I tried -- I called the operator to see if there was a phone number, and they gave me the phone number of my uncle. But I didn't get through to him. So I thought, well, my parents don't have a phone. But it turns out they did, but for some reason they didn't know it. So I walked in the door. My mother told me she almost passed out. She got down on her knees and thanked God. She didn't know for sure I was alive, because this grave registration company when I was wounded, they found letters of mine, and they sent them home, said deceased, to my home. So they thought I was dead. Except my sister, she was a younger sister was home, and she read it and she said look at the dates, they're only five, six months ago, maybe he isn't dead, maybe they just sent it. And they weren't sure, and I couldn't tell them. It was a complete surprise when I got home. And they were -- and my father broke into tears when he saw me as he came home from work, because they didn't expect me to live. They weren't sure.

Michael Sewards:

Well, we're glad you did.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Oh, yeah.

Michael Sewards:

You have a lot of medals on your wall downstairs. Would you like to talk about that?

Daniel L. Curatola:

I never expected that either, but --

Michael Sewards:

Well, let's go downstairs, and you can explain your medals to us.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Sure. Okay.

Michael Sewards:

Okay. Dan, you want to tell us about your medals and all your certificates here?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Okay. Well, these medals here, this is the Bronze Star medal, and then they have two Oakleaf Clusters, means I won a second and a third time. There's a V for Valor, which means I got one of them for bravery, although they say only two out of three were for bravery. But that's what the V is for. This is the ETO, European Theater Ribbon, for England, Middle East.

Michael Sewards:

That's your Purple Heart?

Daniel L. Curatola:

This here is a Purple Heart. This here is the Distinguished Unit Medal, Third Battalion, 16th Infantry. By being first ones in, they gave us -- the whole unit got it. They say it's second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor, even though it just doesn't look like much.

Michael Sewards:

Is that for the first wave on D-Day at Omaha Beach?

Daniel L. Curatola:

That's right. I'm pretty sure that's it. I don't know if the whole division got it, or just our battalion. But, anyway, that's what it's for. And then this here.

Michael Sewards:

That's the Victory Medal.

Daniel L. Curatola:

The Victory Medal.

Michael Sewards:

What's that one over there?

Daniel L. Curatola:

This one?

Michael Sewards:

Yeah.

Daniel L. Curatola:

This one I think we got -- Honor World War II Veterans, 2005. That's what they gave us, the War World II veteran medal, came after the war was over.

Michael Sewards:

Have you been down to the World War II Memorial since it's been built?

Daniel L. Curatola:

No. I wish I could have seen it, but I never got around to that.

Michael Sewards:

This is for your Bronze Star?

Daniel L. Curatola:

This one -- this is the one for Sicily, Meritorious Achievement and Ground Operations Against the Enemy, and -- during the Sicily campaign, Mediterranean Theater Operations. And now this I never saw the citation, why they gave. They just said a meritorious -- I myself don't know why they give me that medal. But I did something right, I guess. I don't know what. And this one is for heroism and ground combat in Arzu, Algeria. That's when we invaded. Again, they didn't tell me what specifically I did, something there, but they gave me the medal for that too. There were so many things that went on, I don't know. But the only thing I really have, the citation I showed you on the battle of El Guettar. That was a wild ride I had. I guess that's the one there, yeah, El Guettar. Is that it?

Michael Sewards:

This is the one for El Guettar?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah, I think that's the one for El Guettar; isn't it?

Michael Sewards:

Tunisia, yep, El Guettar, April 6th, '43?

Daniel L. Curatola:

That's right. What happened there is we were running out of ammunition. It took us three weeks to fight the 10th Panzer Division I was telling you about. And so they asked three guys to go back to the ammunition dump, which was in the rear. We had to jump in a jeep to go back to get ammunition to bring up to the front. As soon as we got about half way down to where -- back where the Germans spotted us, and they started -- 88 shells started hitting on each side of the jeep. Then suddenly we saw German planes coming down and diving down, and you could see the bullets hitting around us. You could see them kicking up dust within a few inches of us. That's how close they came. But we made it to -- got to the dump and we put it in the truck. We thought, well, we were okay then. And we came back. And just as we were coming back in the truck, the Germans spotted us again. And again the planes come down. And I said, boy, if they hit us, we'll blow apart, you know, that ammunition will blow up. It came close, all the way. And the 88s again were hitting, just missing. That's how close they came to the truck. And the planes coming, diving down real close. And we could see them on the dirt right in front of us and around the side of us. So that's why I said that was the wildest rides I ever had. And when we got back, what happened, I think they would have hit the truck too, but just while they were getting closer, there was a Company L Division. I remember we saw them coming up the road. They started to fire at the Germans, and the Germans took their -- away from us and started shooting at them. While they were going back and forth, we made to it a wadi, they called it, dry river beds. We had cover there, and we unloaded the truck there. But we might not have made it if it wasn't for Company L. I remember it was Company L. I used to be in Company L for a while before they transferred me to special headquarters unit.

Michael Sewards:

You're lucky.

Daniel L. Curatola:

But that saved our neck too. But that was a wild ride. That was another time in Africa that I thought I wasn't going to make it this time, because the way they were -- both the planes -- air, and the big 88s. Those 88s were dangerous too.

Michael Sewards:

Oh, yeah.

Daniel L. Curatola:

So -- but we made it.

Michael Sewards:

This is for your Purple Heart?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah. The Purple Heart, that's the only medal they actually gave me while I was still in the service that I saw. They did give me other citations, but I didn't see the medals until I got out. But the Purple Heart they handed me in the hospital. That's -- I think it was an ambush, but they said it was a landmine.

Michael Sewards:

What's this one, Dan?

Daniel L. Curatola:

This one -- in the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, we went to this town, I forget the name of it.

Michael Sewards:

Colleville? Colleville?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah, (reading in Italian), for participating in the liberty of the town by the American Army on June 2nd -- March the 9th, 1944. That's the time -- it just happened that that's the -- that's when we liberated them. So we went to that town, and they gave us a big party. They gave us a medal. I don't remember, I put the medal away somewhere. And they also gave us the certificate. And the same way, here's another certificate that I got on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. This was honorary diploma, what they say, they have that in English. This was -- it was in French. So they have the two divisions helped. I think this was the first, that's our First Division, and that was a tank division, our Third Armored Division, that's what the Number 3 is. So the two divisions took this town, so they gave us both. So they celebrated for us. And, let's see. Well, some of these others --

Michael Sewards:

How about your picture over there? Are you going to talk about that?

Daniel L. Curatola:

This one?

Michael Sewards:

Yeah.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, this was in Camp Wheeler, Georgia, when my buddy, I was telling you the one that we used to meet after battle. He took my picture about three different ways. This was -- anyway, there was -- we had in different armored positions. He took my picture, and I took his. So he's got his. There was also, by the way -- we took -- after the African fighting was over, they took -- we went to Algiers, and they took our picture together, sitting together. And I have it upstairs somewhere, but I couldn't find it. But when he died and was killed, when I went to Moravian College, they brought his body back. And when they brought his body back, and I went to this professor, I asked him for permission, he wouldn't give it to me. I said, well, I'm going anyway. That was ridiculous. But, anyway, I went to see him. And they had the picture that I took of my buddy Lefty on the casket, only they took my side off. But I recognized the picture that we took together. And they used that picture to show that -- the casket was closed, because it had been several -- about over a year or something, I guess it was.

Michael Sewards:

What's this a picture of, Dan?

Daniel L. Curatola:

That was of D-Day, but I don't remember where I got that from. Somebody gave it to me, but I can't say for sure where.

Michael Sewards:

Is that Omaha Beach?

Daniel L. Curatola:

That probably was Omaha Beach, yeah. Someone gave it to me, but I don't remember now. It's been years. If you can read that, I can't read it from here what it says on there.

Michael Sewards:

The Board of Directors of the U.S. Committee for the Battle of Normandy Museum is honored to present this official photograph to Mr. Daniel L. Curatola, whose participation and generous support helped make possible the opening of the museum, which will serve to remind the future generations of the price of freedom.

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, that's one of them that I sent -- I've been corresponding with a lot of these organizations and donating to them, like the museum. And that's probably why then sent me that.

Michael Sewards:

Well, anything else you would like to add, Dan?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Well, I can't say much else for that. And some of these organizations too, this was another one, they give me --

Michael Sewards:

Disabled American Veterans?

Daniel L. Curatola:

Yeah, that's the DAV that gave me that one. And this is Disabled American Veterans too. But they sent me some of these every year.

Michael Sewards:

Freedom Team Salute, U.S. Army.

Daniel L. Curatola:

And that's another certificate of appreciation. Who knows what I did there? Who knows?

Michael Sewards:

Anything you'd like to ask, Dick?

Michael Sewards:

Well, Dan, it was an honor to do your interview. I would like to thank you for the service to our country. MR. CURATOLA: Thank you very much. (End of interview.)

 
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  October 26, 2011
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