DVIDS – News – Remembering Operation Husky

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77 years ago a group of American men fought valiantly and tragically died in Ponte Dirillo during Operation Husky in WWII. This year, several ceremonies in the nearby town of Gela and at the historic site of the battle honored their sacrifice.

Commander, US Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Sicily Cmdr. Brian Evans, Mayor Lucio Greco de Gela, President Franco Citta of the Rotary Club, members of the Kiwanis Club, several American sailors and several Italian citizens commemorated the anniversary of this courageous effort on July 10.

Operation Husky was a massive amphibious campaign to liberate the island of Sicily from the Axis powers. The 82nd Airborne Division sent paratroopers from Tunisia on July 10, but severe weather deflected members of the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. They landed among heavily fortified German forces, including three pillboxes and several Tiger tanks.

Nonetheless, American soldiers, led by Lt. Col. Arthur Gorham, fought Italian and German forces through the night and until the morning of July 11. At the end of the battle, 39 men, including Gorham, lost their lives, but not before wreaking havoc on their enemies. In recognition of his heroism, Gorham was posthumously awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses, the second highest honor for bravery bestowed by the United States military.

Operation Husky ultimately succeeded in bringing Sicily under Allied control.

Evans described the importance of the operation. “At that time, seventy-eight years ago, Operation Husky was underway,” he said. “Elements of the US Seventh Army, with beachheads established near here, continued to land forces throughout the day. These landings here in Sicily in 1943 marked the beginning of the liberation of Europe. As the fighting unfolded that day, July 10, 1943, and the next day, July 11, 39 brave Americans made the ultimate sacrifice near this very spot. “

At the first ceremony of the day, held at the Gela seafront pier, Greco and Citta unveiled a memorial stone in honor of those who fought and those who sacrificed themselves. .

“It was here that the Anglo-American troops fought valiantly and with honor, and were also violently counterattacked,” said Greco. “Many were the victims on both sides, but what changed the outcome of the battle was the US Air Force, which, with its absolute dominance of the skies, intervened massively in the areas of ‘landing.”

Greco continued: “When the huge Anglo-American Allied fleet appeared off the coast of southeastern Sicily, it was the beginning of the end. Without Operation Husky, the 20-year fascist era would likely not have ended on the morning of July 25, and the history of our country and all of us would have changed.

Later, the president of the local Kiwanis club laid a wreath on the commemorative plaque behind the town hall in Gela.

After these two ceremonies, the NCTS Sicily organized a ceremony in Ponte Dirillo outside the town of Gela. The NCTS commander described the importance of the operation and the bravery of the soldiers.

“As authoritarian regimes once again cast the shadow of ‘Operation Husky’ tyranny over humanity, NCTS Sicily draws its determination and focus from the memory of these men,” he said. . “As we have all sworn in our oath in the service of our navy and our nation, we remain firmly committed to the principle of individual freedom.”

The memory of those who participated in Operation Husky, and in particular those who gave their lives to Ponte Dirillo, is important to Americans and Italians alike. “We are here today because we are called to remember what has been and to pass it on to new generations, year after year, anniversary after anniversary, ceremony after ceremony,” said Greco.

Evans also expressed appreciation for the commemoration of the day and the collaboration between countries. “It is our common belief and dedication to freedom for all mankind that will prevail against authoritarian competition now and in the future,” he said. “This is why the Navy and the NCTS continue to operate here in this beautiful country. We could not accomplish our mission otherwise, and certainly not without our Italian allies by our side.

Date taken: 07/30.2021
Date posted: 08.03.2021 10:18
Story ID: 402282
Place: SIGONELLE, IT

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