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Interview with Aldo Fredo [7/2/2002]

Alice Healy:

Today is July the 2nd, 2002, and we're recording at the Lyons Hospital, the Veterans Hospital, and we're speaking to Aldo Fredo, who was in World War II in the Army, in the European theater. Attending is Alice Healy and Claire Honiker. Aldo, to start, tell us a little bit about your background, where you came from and --

Aldo Fredo:

I was the last of five children born to -- I was born in Jersey City, raised and schooled in Jersey City. And previous to entering service, I attended night school, because I had to go to work because of financial reasons in the family. And then what later developed to be a war diploma, because I was taken into the service in my last year of high school. And I entered into the service on October 1, '43, and I was drafted into Camp -- Fort Dix, New Jersey. And I was stationed there for a few weeks, and then assigned to Fort McClellan, Alabama, for basic training in the infantry. I trained there for 17 weeks, and then was given furlough, sent to England at that time, and they were preparing for the invasion of France. And I was in the reserve as a replacement in the 90th Division, and when the invasion started June 6th, we were put in reserve in England at a base to be shipped over to be replaced into the 90th Division after the invasion.

As you know, the invasion was June 6th. We were sent and assigned to the 90th Division as replacements on June 16th, and landed into France, and we were put into reserve someplace in France right after the invasion at Saint Lo de Cherbourg. We were sent in as replacements for the 90th Division, and wound up in Company I-357 of the 90th Division. And then later we were told that we would be assigned to Patton's Third Army after Cherbourg fell at the breakout of the Cherbourg Peninsula, and headed into the inner parts of France, the liberation of other parts of the territories, at which time we were put into action at a town called Beaucoudray, supposed to bypass an attack, and captured the town of Periers.

And around July 6th, we were pressed into service -- I mean, into action, and we had stiff resistance, whereby we had to be held up on the outskirts of this town of Beaucoudray on July 6th, and we were pinned down to a certain degree by -- they had come in with top reinforcements to get us surrounded somehow. We were held up by our flanks and they got around us with panzers and we got no other support. We fought all that night, into the next day, and our captain came through and said we have to give up, because we're surrounded by panzers, and I think they had parachute troops and everything that were pressed into service at us, and surrounded.

And we gave up that night of July 7th, at which time they brought us back behind the lines. We were about 150 left out of the battalion. And we were taken back and we were interrogated at certain camps behind the lines. They marched us back and then later put us into "40 and 8" cars and went to a -- someplace I think in Jaucourt, France. We stayed there a couple of nights, and then they ordered some buses and they took us to a train station, and we wound up in Paris. From Paris, we were at a station, place, in Metz, where they interrogated us again. And we were sent down into Germany. The first place that we hit was Trier. We stayed over there, and were interrogated again. And we wound up in Muhlberg, Stalag 4B, and later we were assigned to a kommando. We called him working kommando (unintelligible). He was a working kommando on a railroad, and we had to do repair work and replaced rails, and so forth, on the railroad. And there were some instances whereby we were in bombing raids, which ended us for a while, but we survived. And can we just hold up a while, get my thoughts? I'm rambling on.

[TAPE TURNED OFF]

Just to digress a minute, back to the time we were captured, I said we were -- after we were captured, we had to rely on the French people to feed us and the soldiers that were assigned to us taking us back. We were doing mostly marching back in the immediate area from where we were captured. And I recall, the first town that we arrived at -- well, prior to that, while they had us marching back, we stopped -- one instance I remembered, we stopped by -- because it was pretty hot at that time. You know, it was in July. And we stopped at a point whereby we saw a couple of officers coming down from headquarters, you know, from the road where we were taking the break when they were marching us back, and they happened to be SS troops.

This was an instance I remember. And one of them was a very typical young German officer, very, very good-looking man. The other was a real harsh-looking one. One had a soldier and that was a typical Nazi type of SS man. He was -- he had the Iron Cross. And the young fellow, he was very good in English, and he was very, very nice. He just talked to us, and, "Are you American?" Because I guess we were about some of the first ones that he saw. And he was telling us that he received a letter from a friend of his that was captured, a German, and he was stationed in Fort Blanding, Florida, and he just wanted to know if we knew -- yeah, we know Fort Blanding, Florida. He said, yeah, he said that they were treated well. He says, as a matter of fact, they had the same type of food in camp like the regular soldiers had. They were fed good. I said, "Yeah," I says, "I wish we were fed." I said, "We haven't had anything." I said, "We want at least a glass of water." And he says, "I'd give you water, but you wouldn't want to drink this kind of water, because it's all polluted around here." And I says, "We're thirsty. Get us the water." We had halizone tablets, and we'd have it, you know, purified, after about 20 minutes. He said, "Well, get a couple of fellows, and we'll get a couple of buckets and we'll get you some water and you can start, you know, putting the process in the drink." So that was the first time we got a glass of water, and it had to be from an SS troop, no less. Of course, he seemed to be a real -- I guess, a real soldier man like one of our West Pointers.

And then from there, we kept marching and we hit this town of Lonlay-l'Abbaye, I think the name was. And they were -- somehow they got some messages forwarded to them that there's American soldiers that are captured, prisoners, that will be coming by, and they prepared a heck of a meal for us. That was the first time we had anything to eat, and they had veal and bread and butter and anything you wanted. It was really something. And after we got done there, they would send a message to the next city or town that we were going to approach within the next few hours, and that was another town of -- we got there the following morning. Of course, we walked during the night and then we slept on the road. And in the morning we woke up, and then we got to this town of Tuchenbach, and they -- the townspeople come rolling from the outskirts of the town to meet with us, because I guess we were the first ones that they ever saw as prisoners, you know, and they also prepared a meal for us.

And that was one instance that -- we had to stay there overnight, and they put us in a schoolhouse, and that was the first instance we had that we felt we were going to have some trouble, because there were about six guys that -- when we stepped out the next morning to go to our next point, wherever they were taking us, six guys were missing. And the officer that was in charge of the soldiers that were taking us back gave us an ultimatum. They said, "If your six boys don't come down, three guys are going to be shot for every one that's missing." And they put up a machine gun in front of us, because we were lined up -- we were about -- I think at that time it must have been about a hundred fellows there. And after about two minutes or something, the guys came running down because they had heard that they were going to set up a machine gun. They were up in the attic someplace in the schoolhouse that we were in, and they came out. And they said, "If this happens again, we won't give you a chance to" -- So that was one close call.

And the second one was after that point, they took us on -- we were at the point - I don't know what town it was, but we got on some trucks, and they took us to a train station and we got on these "40 and 8" cars, they called them, and there was like 40 men or eight horses. And they crowded us in these freight cars, so to speak, and they took us to the town of Chartres, and they -- there was some big hangar, or something, and we stayed there. But they didn't give us much to eat. They had some cheeses that they had there, and it was just a transient place that they kept us, and all we got was some bread and cheese.

And then after a couple of days they moved us out of there and they put us on a train, and I remember we passed Paris. We could see there was -- looking outside of the corner of the -- it had an opening (unintelligible) and we were passing through Paris. And then we wound up on these "40 and 8" cars. And there was an instance, even there, we heard one day when we stopped at one of the stations, the next morning they said, "Somebody tried to escape and go out" -- they had little openings in the side of the "40 and 8" cars, and he squeezed himself out, and he must have tried to get out, but they said that his body went down on the track, or something like that, and he got killed or something. I don't even know who he was or something like that.

Then we got -- after that, we got to this town of Metz, and that was the first time we were really interrogated together. They took all our stuff out of our pockets, whatever we had, and then they had us stand, they interrogated us there, and they brought us to the train station. That was another instance we had where we got to the platform of the train station, they set up a machine gun again and I was wondering what was going to happen now. And they said that there was a hospital train coming through, which the Americans had strafed, and they were so annoyed about it that some of the soldiers there were ready to set up another machine gun and try to line us up. It was a hell of an experience, but evidently, an officer came down and he says, "You don't do this. This is not to be done." And -- but later we saw the train coming through the station, because that's where we were boarding on the train to come to our next point of embarcation. And the train that came through was strafed, but there were a lot of hospital patients that were -- you could see that the -- I don't know if a couple of them got hit by any of the bullets, but there were a lot of holes in the train as it went through from that strafing. And after that, then they were ordered not to do anything about it, and so we were put on the train and wound up at Trier, another town, of Trier, Germany, and (unintelligible), you know. Excuse me.

[BREAK ON THE TAPE.]

Alice Healy:

Okay. All right. So this is --

Aldo Fredo:

Trier -- that's probably Germany. The Alsace-Lorraine territory, anyway. And at that point, they kept us there for a couple of days. And of course, then they had to process us to a regular Stalag, I guess, and we wound up in -- the first Stalag we hit was in Muhlberg, Germany. And it was a sizeable prison camp. It had all denominations there, Russians, English, French, Holland, others. Other Allied soldiers that were there. It was a pretty big-sized camp. And at that point I was at the point where I was pretty sick, and all I remember is that they put us in a barrack and we had these cots, beds that were six high, and you just slid into them like a tray, a tray area. And we had about 12 or 18 inches between bodies on these cots.

And all I remember then, I was -- I was pretty well in bad shape, because I was very weak. As a matter of fact, one of my buddies -- he told me a couple of days later that's how long I was out or something, because I couldn't remember too much. I was in a very weak state. I think I had dysentery very bad, and I was wondering if I would ever make it. After a couple of days, I guess I got to starting to feel better, and got into a position whereby we were just in a staging area there, waiting to be transferred out or something, which they did.

There was 80 fellows that were taken from that camp, and we were put on a working kommando, which was predominantly for railroad work, and they sent us to a town just -- which was part of Czechoslovakia, and it was a town of Adorf, A-D-O-R-F, I think, and they had a little -- right by the roundhouse of trains where they used to, I guess, repair the trains that come in for servicing and stuff. And they had barracks right alongside the tracks there, where -- that was our quarters, to be like our living area, and right alongside the tracks there.YAnd they set us up in groups, in two groups that worked on the railroad, and I think they had a group of fellows that worked in the local factories doing some kind of work. I don't know just what it was. And we were there for -- this was around -- I think around October of '44, and we had -- our job was to walk on the tracks and repair tracks. And then when the bombarding came, when they started bombing, you had to go and repair the areas that they were -- the tracks that were bombarded.

I remember one instance, that the first time we had this kind of attack from our own planes, that it was the town of Eger, E-G-E-R, I think it was, where I saw my first crater of what a bomb could do. There were about 50 guys around a big crater, hauling dirt back in to fill the hole, and the railroad tracks were turned up like a pretzel. I mean, that's what kind of damage -- that's the first instance we had realized what a bomb does. And after that, that's what basically our job was, daily going back and forth on these railroad tracks, fixing basically what had been bombarded or places that had to be repaired. And the next experience was a pretty bad one. It was the town of Siddiaflow (sic), a fair-sized city. Came to the size of about 20, 50,000 people, and they told us we had to go there. Turned out to be a real sorry -- that was a real sorry incident where we had to see the people being killed by bombs, and they had to put us there in a group that had to clean up around the railroad station in the city of Plauen, and there was a lot of bodies that had to be taken away. And then we had to do all our work around there for about the next two months. We kept all night -- report there every day, trying to clean up what was done by our own planes.

Alice Healy:

(Unintelligible). Okay. So the torture started then? Just say (unintelligible).

Aldo Fredo:

Yeah. Well, (unintelligible) get through it now. It was a very horrible thing to look at, you know, to see innocent children, and you wonder why wars are fought like this and they have to suffer along with it. I guess it happened in our Allied countries, too, so -- it was just the horrors of the war. But anyway, we got through that all right, and got back to Caan, and that was our daily work every day, to go out to these places that had to be repaired, and then --

Alice Healy:

Was this the winter months now?

Aldo Fredo:

Yeah, we were in winter months, yeah. It was pretty -- as a matter of fact, some of our clothing started to wear, our shoes. And I'll never -- they gave us shoes, wooden -- the leather tops and wooden bottoms, like the Dutch. Pretty hard shoes to walk on. (Unintelligible) we got a half a day, so we wouldn't have to waste a Sunday to do our Sunday chores, and we told them that we would try to get it done, and -- which we did. And when Saturday came around, we were finishing up, and it was 12:00, it was 1:00, and he says, "Let's work. Work." And all of a sudden it started raining. I just couldn't take it anymore. I said, "Everything is done. You promised us we're going to get off," and I left, and I walked under some overpass or something, because it was raining, and two other guys followed me. I'll never forget that. And he was ranting and raving. He wanted us to get back to work. I says, "The work is done." I said, "You tell us we're going to work a half a day, you promised us, and we thought we'd get off and get home early." So he said, "No. You got to stay here and work."YAnd now, for that, not only did we have to stay until the end of the day, but we had to walk back to camp. We couldn't get a train back. So we had to walk about six miles to get back to camp. And our underofficer, who was in charge of the camp -- when we got back, it was nighttime, he was -- because at that time we didn't have the guard. We just had this railway master that was in charge of us. And he was concerned because we weren't back at the given time. And he wondered what happened. And he was ranting and raving when we walked into camp with the railway master, and he couldn't get over it. He says, "What happened? What happened?" And after we got straightened out, we all had to stay at attention, because he wanted to know what was wrong. So the railway master pointed out, "saboteur," because we walked off the job. He called Fredo. There was another kid, Montanito, from Brooklyn, and a fellow from North Carolina. His last name was Bears. I forgot what his first name. But they had us set up that we saboteured the job. So he had to make a report to the railway people, and they said that I was going to go before a firing squad.

And I tell you, that really -- it didn't work on me. I don't know, I was at such a point where you felt miserable. But anyway, they said, "You will have a hearing," and in about a week or so, some colonel came down from the services, from the Army, the German Army, and very, very -- you could see he was a real military man. And he says he wanted to speak to me. And he says, "Were you the one that was involved with this" -- you know, I don't know what they called it, but he says, "You know the way you walked off the job?" I says, "Yeah." He wanted to know what the facts was. I said, "Well, they told us if we did the job, we would have a half a day Saturday, we could come back, and I figured, you know, the guys would all have a half a day off, and we could do our Sunday chores on Saturday afternoon, we'd have Sunday to ourselves." And he said, "Well, what happened?" I said, "Well, he promised us that we would have a half a day off. But when it came time, the job was done, there was nothing to be done, he went out all" -- they took us out on a Sunday morning to finish the job, and when I was talking to the guard -- because the guard came out. And he came over to me, he said, "What happened, Fredo?" And I told him, I says, in my best German that I knew, because I picked up the German, I told him that we were supposed to finish the job, and he even got mad with him that day.

He said, "Why did you have these fellows come out, walk them back when the job was done?" And he started yelling at him in German. I don't remember what it was. But anyway, he said, "Well, you got to remember that" -- he seemed like a gentleman. I don't know. He just says, "Look. I apologize for the railway master," he says "if he gave you a promise that you were going to get off," he says, "but remember. You're still a prisoner of war." And he said, "But I'll take the report back," he says. "You're still" -- I don't know how -- "up on charges." He says, "I'll make my report, and if nothing else is done, just feel that you're lucky." Nothing else was done, so I'm lucky, and I'm here today.

And those were some of the feats that came. And then as the -- and that was our day-to-day chores. And as the days went on, we had an incident where we were strafed by a fighter plane one Sunday morning, and the bullets were flying all over the place. And because I guess our barracks were right by the railroad, they figured that it must be something to do with the railroad. So when he left, I said, "Thank God, nobody got hurt by any bullets or anything." He ordered me -- he said, "Look, we better do something," so he gave us paint and we put "POW" on top of the roof, so any planes that come by -- which one did about a couple of days later, but he came down, and then he just flew off and tipped his wings, knowing that -- he realized that we were prisoner of wars there in that barracks.

And that's how we wound up until after the daily chores of the railroad, part of the prisoner of war days, it came that the Allies were coming close and this was around the beginning of -- the end of April, the beginning of May. The Allied lines were coming close, and I guess they got orders that they had to move us out, and they started walking, I guess, in a southerly direction, to Czechoslovakia, which we had to rely on people. There was some people that, you know, they was Germans, but we were in town, and they would talk to you by the windows or their doorways, where we were. And some of them would give you food and that's how you had to survive, until we were liberated. We wound up -- the last time I remembered before we were liberated, we were in some small town, but it was like a farm area, and we made -- we had, I think, four guards, three or four guards with us, and we told them, "Let us send some men where we think our front lines are," because all the front lines were coming close. And they said we'll send four men out every three hours to see if they could get to our front lines, and maybe our soldiers could come in, because they knew the end was near, and they realized that they could do nothing but just be guarding us until we were liberated.

And the first four guys went out. I think it was around the end of April, it was, I guess, and we were in this town. I don't even know the name of the town. But the people -- one of the members of the families there in this town, we went by there, about three or four of us to eat that evening, and she had -- I know that was the first time I saw a meal at a table in such a long time. And she had this big bowl of mashed potatoes with some meat in it, and I guess some greens on the side. And I remember getting the ladle and just starting to dig in, and all of a sudden, I hear bullets flying, and I said, "The Americans are here." The kid comes running, "We're going to get killed, Mom." The little kid was saying in German, "Americanischen hier." I dropped the thing, and she said, "No. Eat." She was trying to tell us to keep eating. "Eat first." She said, "I made this thing for you to eat."So I said, "No, they're here." So we ran out and, sure enough, there was a Jeep out there with a couple of soldiers that came in. And then later on, some trucks came in from -- and there were guys from the 87th Division. And food meant nothing to us at that time, we were so glad to be -- that we were going to be liberated. And then they said some -- and they took us back to their headquarters in some town -- I don't remember the town -- and then from there on in, we went from one railway station, and we wound up in the (unintelligible), I think it was Riegensburg, and from there, they took us to -- on a plane, and they took us to camp in Le Havre, Camp Lucky Strike, to be processed to come back home. And we happened to be there at Riems. No, I'm sorry, before Lucky Strike we had Riems. They took us to Riems where the headquarters -- as a matter of fact, we were there that day when the armistice was signed, in Riems. Was Eisenhower there, or something? I don't know who the representatives were that were signing. But that was, I think, on May 6th or May 7th when they were signing the armistice papers. And then from there, the next day they took us on a plane and they flew us to Camp Lucky Strike. And from that point on, then we were put on a ship and we came back to Boston, I think we docked at. And the funny part of -- I'm trying to think of the embarcation point where we left from. And it was very coincidental that I wound up in the same barrack that we left from when we went overseas. It was really something of a wonder.

Alice Healy:

Did you lose much weight --

Aldo Fredo:

Yeah, I think I was normally about 165 pounds at that time, and I think when I came back I was about 110 pounds. But by the time -- but while they kept us at these local camps, like Camp Lucky Strike and the Greaves, I remember that they fed us all this boneless chicken and eggnog. Eggnog we had all day long. And I remember, when I got home, I think we landed, I was liberated in May, and I got home I think it was June, about June 10th, or June 11th, and I was up to about 170 pounds. So in about 30 days, I gained about 50 pounds, I guess. I don't know. But that was an experience that we came back, and landed in Boston, and then they shipped us to Fort Monmouth -- no, Fort Dix. Fort Dix. And from there they gave us a pass, and we were wondering if we could get a train, and I got a train that night. That's what it was, yes. And I got -- I don't know. They gave us a pass, I think, from Boston, I think, we got to Fort Dix. I know it was around June 10th or so. And they had to process us, and they gave us -- they said, "You can wait until the next day and catch a train," or -- but being that we got a pass, we tried to catch a train. They said there was a train leaving (unintelligible) which was from Fort Dix, and I got on a train. And I got into Newark. And before I left, I called from Fort Dix, I told my family that I would be coming home. I said I'd catch a train that night. And there was a train I think about 11:00 at night, and I wound up in Newark, and I'll never forget when I come out of the train, my brother and my father -- my oldest brother was running down, and my father was trailing him. It was a beautiful sight. And I had some relatives that lived in Jersey City, living at that time, and they had relatives that lived in the house, and they woke them up and they said, "Aldo's coming home," and they were all waiting for me that night. I got home about 1:00, 1:30 in the morning. It was such an eventful thing. Another beautiful sight. I never thought that I would ever be back home again. And that was more or less what happened.

Alice Healy:

What did you do after the war?

Aldo Fredo:

After the war, I had decided that then they had the GI Bill, you know. At first they gave us this 60-day leave, I think, and so I was on leave for, I think, 60 days. And so I stayed home, you know, meeting relatives and all. And then I had to go -- and then they assigned me to go to -- oh, they gave us what they call a rehabilitation vacation after that point, and we went to -- they assigned us to Asheville, North Carolina. We were supposed to stay there for two weeks as a vacation point. It was a beautiful place they have at Asheville, some hotels that they had us there, you know, for part of -- as part of our rehabilitation. And then after that, they assigned us, I think, to Fort Meade, and they wanted us to get some Army job there in Fort Meade if we wanted to stay there. And I told them, "No, I'll take my chances going someplace else." And they said -- well, at that time, the Japanese war wasn't over yet. They said, "You know, you still could go to Japan." I said, "I can? Well, if it has to be, it has to be, but I don't think it would be that soon, I think," and that probably would be over pretty soon, too. But evidently, the next thing, they sent me to New York and I wound up at the Army Post Office in New York, handling the Army mail, you know, for the soldiers that were still receiving mail. And at that point, we were notified that all prisoners of war were going to be discharged, and so we had to just finish our tour working in the Army Post Office in New York, and everybody was -- so we'd have to look on the bulletin board every day to see who -- you know, who was being processed for discharge, and my name was never coming up, and everybody was going. So I finally -- I mean, all the guys I was working with, they were gone. And I was wondering why my name never come up. So I went in to the company clerk there, and I says, "You know, I'm a prisoner of war," I says. "My name didn't come up." He said, "We processed all of them that were prisoners of war." I says, "I was a prisoner of war." So he looked in the files, he took my file out, he says, "The last thing that you have in your thing is that you're missing in action. There was nothing else put in." And they never -- they didn't even have me registered as a prisoner of war. So then he set up the papers, and then the next day I was transferred to Fort Monmouth and from Fort Monmouth I was discharged, and I wound up home, and that was it. And then after I was discharged, I applied for the GI Bill to go to school, and I wound up having to take a preexam or something to see if I'm qualified for college and all, and -- which I went through that process, and -- because I had to have entrance credits because I didn't qualify to go into college because I didn't have the type of credits that were qualified for entrance into college. I had to take up a couple of courses, which I did, which was accelerated courses that summer. And I got through with that, and then I was accepted at Seton Hall. And I attended my college years at Seton Hall with a BS in accounting, and I finished the course in three years by going summers, and then I applied for law school, Fordham Hall, which I was accepted, but I never finished. I started, but I guess it was too much schoolwork all at once. And I thought I would leave for a while and then go back, but once you leave, you never go back. And the next thing I know, I was working on -- I got a job working in New York as an accountant in the -- as a matter of fact, with a Dutch outfit. They were managing agents for shippings that were going -- transportation, equipment, and supplies going overseas to Europe. And I stayed there about a year or so. And in the meantime, I was -- I met my wife on a summer vacation and started going out with her, and then planning to get married, and I think it was April 19th -- 16th -- I can't think of the dates. It's 50 years back. So it would be 1952. Actually 50 years ago. It would be April of 1952, we decided to get married. And then, like I say, I was still working for this company then, (unintelligible) the Dutch outfit, and I took a test for a government job with the Internal Revenue Service as a revenue agent, which I passed, and I was called in. And I'm trying to think of the date that I started there. It was around March 15th of 1954. That's when it was. March 15th of 1954. And I worked there, I spent my 30 years working for the IRS, and --

Alice Healy:

What did you actually do?

Aldo Fredo:

I was a revenue agent, examining tax returns. And then got into the corporate field, put me into international corporation work, and I was -- finished up my years there, and then went into retirement and here I am.

Alice Healy:

How many children did you have?

Aldo Fredo:

I have two girls and one boy. One girl, she was born July 4th, 1956. She's going to be 49. And then the following year I had my son, who was born Aldo, Junior, and he's currently a dentist. And my daughter, the oldest daughter, now is -- she's a special education teacher. And then 11 years later, I had little Gina, June 3rd, and she's married now, she has two children, and that's the story now. I just celebrated my -- just finished celebrating my 50th anniversary.

Alice Healy:

Congratulations.

Claire Honiker:

You have been active with the different organizations?

Aldo Fredo:

Yeah, well, I was with the DAV and Disabled Vets. I was first -- the first organization I was Catholic War Vets, we were charter members in Jersey City. And then I next joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and worked in that organization, and the Disabled Vets. And then I came to be -- join the POW chapter 1 (unintelligible). Some number of years ago I started with chapter 3 in Clifton, and then I was inactive there for quite a while, and then I met up with Bob Levin, who's in chapter 1 of the Prisoners of War. I met him at the last reunion of the 90th Division, which I attended last August, the end of August. I think it was from August 29th to the 2nd of September. And he got me active again into the Prisoners of War.

Alice Healy:

Did you -- at the reunion, did you meet any of your old buddies?

Aldo Fredo:

Well -- oh, well, that's -- to get back to the meeting the buddies, I was in contact with one -- I came out of service with a couple of friends of mine that were prisoners of war, and later on we were corresponding. But I got to a point whereby my letters were coming -- they weren't coming back, but I was never getting any response. And there was one, two fellows in particular that -- this Roman Sosha from Chicago, and another boy from Arkansas was Roy Harper. And we were corresponding there for a while. And the letter I got from him back about 1950 -- as soon as he got out of the service, he got married, and when I -- and then Roman Sosha, he just kept in contact with me, he was still in Chicago, and his letters -- there was no response after a while. So when I went to this reunion, I was looking up for these, and sure enough, they had two men on the roster of the 90th Division veterans and contacted them. I figured they're with the same name and all, and turned out to be that they were the fellows that I was looking for for 50 years. And this one fellow I met was from Chicago at the reunion last year at San Antonio, and he said he would look them up. If it's the place where I think it is, he's living in a YMCA. And sure enough, when I got home, he called me after the reunion, and he says, "I got in touch with Roman Sosha, and he says that he remembers you. He says you were the guy that was in the barbershop cutting the guys' hair in the prisoner of war camp." And he was so happy to hear that I was still alive and that -- so he got his phone number and he called me when I got home, this fellow -- his name was Orsido, Orsido, and he contacted him. And he called me. He says that he is living in the YMCA. He gave me his phone number, and I got in touch with him the following day. And he was so happy to hear from me. He says, "Do me a favor. I can't talk to you. I'm going to start crying." I had to call his sister. He gave me his sister's number. He said, "Just tell her that you were the fellow that was close to me." And I spoke to his sister that day. In the meantime, I saw the roster of Roy Harper, this other fellow, and Roman Sosha, the same fellow that I got in contact with. He says he knows -- it is Roy Harper, the fellow that was in prison with us, and he is now in New Mexico. And he gave me his phone number -- no, his address, and I wrote.

[END OF TAPE SIDE 1] [BEGIN SIDE TWO, TAPE 1]

-- "wasn't too sure it was you, but I figured there are not too many fellows in the 90th Division with a name like Roy Harper." So he says, "Yeah, that's me," he says. And as a matter of fact, before I called him, I had the copy of his original letter when he said he got married. And I made a copy of it and mailed it to him when I wanted to get his phone number, to see -- you know, after his address. And he had told me that his -- that when he got that letter, then I got correspondence back from him, and he says the guys were amazed to know that I made a copy of his original letter that I got back from him around 1949, and you know, that he was telling me he got married after he came out of service and all. And he said, when he called me, he says that "My wife just had died this past year." And he has MS, poor guy. And -- but he said, "I'm going to try to make the next reunion," he said, "being I've been in touch with you now. There was a lot of days back there." I says, "Yep," and he says, "Well, I'm going to try to make the next reunion of the 90th Division." He says, "I have to have somebody to be an attendant with me." And I hope he comes, because I'd like to meet him, and he says -- he came from Arkansas, so he says, "My brother is going to be there," he says, to meet him, and he hopes that I make it. So he says, "I'd like to see you, because that's the only way I can travel, only way I'll meet you."

Alice Healy:

Where will the reunion be?

Aldo Fredo:

Little Rock, Arkansas. So I'm looking forward to seeing him. As a matter of fact, I just spoke to him on the phone Sunday.

Alice Healy:

And when is the date for?

Aldo Fredo:

The day is August 29th to September 1st. So I hope to make it. So I'll probably be seeing somebody. Now I got to call Roman Sosha to see if he would make it, too.

Alice Healy:

Good. That's great.

Aldo Fredo:

Get to 50 years married and 50 years after not seeing these guys.

Alice Healy:

Yeah, another emotional time.

Aldo Fredo:

Very emotional feeling, yeah. And that was it.

Claire Honiker:

We appreciate it. Did you think of anything else, or is that about it?

Aldo Fredo:

That's about it, I guess, I tried to --

Alice Healy:

Yeah, thank you.

Aldo Fredo:

I hope I just didn't ramble on.

Alice Healy:

It was very interesting. It's what we want to hear. Thank you very much.

[Conclusion of interview]

 
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  October 26, 2011
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