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Airmail Letter
Postmark: 07/20/1944

Return Address:
Pvt. V. Misitano
Co. A. 350th Inf APO 88c
c/o Postmaster N.Y.

July 20, 1944

Dearest Mother,

    Just a few lines letting you know that I'm O.K. and in the best of health and hoping that all at home are the same.

   This is the first chance that I got to write since I've been here on the front lines this time.

   I received the letter a few days ago that you wrote on June 20th and very glad to hear that you and all at home are feeling well. Your letter was a nice long letter and I enjoyed reading it very much. Your letter was in ans. to the one I wrote on June 16th while I was in a rest camp. You said that the things that I've seen will be nice to remember in the future. Well mother, I did see a few beautiful places that I may want to remember, but believe me mother, there's a million horrible things that I've seen and even had to do that I'll never want to remember.

   We've been having it pretty tough but mother, I'm still managing to get by without a scratch.

   The Italians up at this part of Italy really treat us nice. When we take a town they usually know that we're tired and hungry and bring out water and wine for us and plenty of figs, peaches, pears, and nice big ripe plums.

   We stopped near a small village for over night a few days back and there was a lot of chickens around so that night we all had chicken for supper plus all the corn and fruit that we could eat. We cooked all that stuff ourselves and it really tasted good. Mother, the other day was the first time that I ever skinned a chicken, cleaned it myself and cooked it. So when I come home I'll know how to cook something besides eggs.

   Well mother, I guess this is all for now so I'll close till I get another chance to write, with lots of love to you mother dear, daddy and the kids.

   Your loving Son,


   Mother please don't worry about me because I'll be O.K. Mother say hello to Aunt Kate for me and tell her I'll write as soon as I get a little more time. Also say hello to "Pal" for me because I haven't written to her for a good while. I guess she thinks I forgot about her.

   Love, Son


Supplemental Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes:

Liberation of Volterra:

Volterra is about 52 kilometers (32 miles) southwest of Florence in Italy. It was along the path the 88th Division would travel in its World War 2 journey across central Italy.

Wikipedia Notes: Volterra is a walled mountaintop town in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its history dates from before the 8th century BC and it has substantial structures from the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval periods. The site is believed to have been continuously inhabited as a city since at least the end of the 8th century BC.

Excerpts from "The Blue Devils in Italy" by John P Delaney:

Page 105: The ancient stronghold of Volterra was the first main objective. From observation points in the high walled city, the Germans commanded a 15-mile view in all directions and for the sake of the entire mission, Volterra's capture was essential. Assigned to take it were the 349th and the 350th, with the 351st held in reserve. Plans called for the 349th to flank the mountain city on the right, the 350th on the left, with both outfits then scheduled to cut in behind the stronghold and seize high ground to the north.

Page 108: The regiments jumped off at 0500 hours on the 8th over gently rolling terrain with poor cover. ... By 2200 hours the regiments had reached their objectives and the 349th sent strong patrols to block entrances and occupy the city itself.

Excerpts from "Draftee Division" by John Sloan Brown:

Page 143: Some observers consider the 88th's next battle, from Volterra to the Arno River (8 July to 25 July 1944), the best it ever fought. The Germans had finally stabilized their front lines on defensible terrain some twenty-five miles south of the Arno. A key position in their defenses was an ancient Etruscan hilltop fortress, Volterra. On 8 July the 88th seized Volterra with a textbook combination of heavy suppressive fires and engineer breaching parties, close followed by assaulting infantrymen. Extraordinarily effective artillery-delivered smoke did much to compensate for lack of cover in the gently rolling terrain approaching the citadel.

The 88th's rupture of the defenses around Volterra forced the Germans to abandon their defenses south of the Arno.

88th Infantry Division troops entering Volterra
Photo Credit: 88th Infantry Division book
Fast Forward 50 Years - Volterra Remembers its Liberators:

In 1997 my dad received a commemorative certificate from the town of Volterra honoring his service in its liberation in July of 1944. An accompanying letter from the 88th Division Association reads as follows:

9-11 July 1997

Dear Fellow Blue Devil,

Fifty three years ago this week we were involved in a nasty shoot out which cost us over one hundred casualties.

Three years ago the council of Volterra began to consider appropriate recognition for men of the 88th who had participated in the liberation of their historic city.

On 25 April 1997 at a ceremony to commemorate the liberation, special honor was given to the men of the 88th and a testimonial document authorized for each survivor.

Enclosed is your award. It may be a small token. It may be late. You can be sure that the many citizens of Volterra remember...with gratitude.

Signed by Art Dodge and Doc Waters

In 2006 during a once-in-a-lifetime vacation trip to Italy, my brother Richard and I, along with our wives, made a special point of visiting Volterra. I had learned by then that one of the Volterra residents who witnessed the liberation as a teenager had subsequently organized having a memorial plaque placed on the stone wall near one of the entrances to the city. It commemorates the 40th anniversary of the liberation, with the dates July 9, 1944 and July 9, 1984. The plaque is near the eastern entrance gate, and is shown below. It depicts the soldiers moving into the city, and has insignia on the right for (top to bottom):
  • Town of Volterra
  • United States of America
  • 5th Army
  • 88th Division


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