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May 22, 2015     Post-Gazette
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May 22, 2015

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POST-GAZE'I'rE, MAY 22, 2015 Page 5 A Frank De Pose uale Venture : BOOK REVIEI/V by Claude Marsilia FOXHOLE MEMOIR'S A TO Z By Homer V. Wagnon, Jr. Hard Cover * 212 Pages * If you are looking for a true hero, you don't need to go any further. Emblazoned in bold colors with stripes and stars I present by his poetic name, "Homer V. Wagnon, Jr." His book Foxhole Memoirs could easily be considered an Army manual on fox- holes. Every conceivable thought regarding foxholes is brought to light. Upon re- turning from battling in WWII he learned no longer was beer free. In his core of life was a story to be told. Despite all the basic train- ing we received, "it turned out we were not quite ready." Homer states further, "We were young and proud, we believed it all." Nonetheless, "We had to learn on the job." Homer and his fellow soldiers were sent to the Siegfried Line to face the experienced and well- equipped German Army. Homer writes about the frightening emo- tions the soldiers on the battle line feel, when facing the enemy. When you read about the number of times our brave men in arms face the enemy, it's a wonder they ever remained solid and kept their sanity. Homer's sense of battle is acute and allows the reader to remain un- daunted and feel as though you are with them. Homer explains in detail how to defend against attacking German tanks. We learn that during the winter of 1945 Battle of the Bulge the riflemen were outfitted with white sheets to camouflage them. Homer explains the overwhelming dread they experience while in a foxhole watching bombers overhead dropping thousands of bombs. "The earth literally bounced under my feet as I stood watching in awe." Homer, through his realistic writ- ing allows the reader to feel per- sonally involved. In his unique writ- ing he offers numerous suggestions, like how to design better boots, how to combat the enemy's firepower, and how to defend against enemy tanks. These recommen- dations were done in such a manner result- ing in positive statements rather than complaints. He emphasizes the point that all soldiers are stripped of their individuality and they all become the same. In great detail Homer explains how these Grs become blood broth- ers. As I continued to read this book I came to the realization that Homer was a com- plete, honest patriot. He didn't offer half- truths only complete truths. He didn't appear to have any trouble writing what he wit- nessed without any embellishments. Homer with sadness describes a scene he was involved in, the killing, unintentional, of young German boys. He tells about the time his platoon was waiting at the banks of the Elbe River for the retreat of German soldiers and civilians. Homer says, in truth, they were attempting to run away from the Russian soldiers. The scene was chaotic; the Russians were firing upon these Germans. When the firing stopped the Germans surrendered to the Americans, In fact Homer humbly explains that a German officer and others surrendered to him. Homer reveals how on several occasions where his buddies were killed needlessly because of the inadequacies of their com- Author S/Sgt. Homer V. Wagnon, Jr., Company "B", 407 th Infantry 102 nd Divi- sion "The Ozarks" Ninth Army m European Theater EIB, CIB, BSM w/cluster, GCM, WWII VM, EOM American & European Campaigns w/3 battle stars Rhineland, Ardennes & Central Europe Homer explains the overwhelming dread they experience while in a foxhole watching bombers dropping thousands of bombs "The earth literally bounced under my feet us I stood watching in awe." Published by Lulu Publishing Co. manders. Becoming an in- fantryman led Homer to be- coming an expert on fox- holes. He concludes that a two-manned foxhole is the most efficient design. For example, while one soldier slept the other soldier was acting as a guard. "A foxhole was not just a hiding place, it became our home." Homer makes it clear that foxholes are an important part of his training, which included the evolution of foxhole designs and the importance with their everyday military life. Homer and his friend Jack received the Bronze Star for their heroic efforts. Men like these two were embarrassed upon receiving a medal. Homer's deep thoughts are revealed when he writes, "Death should be natural and a part of a good life, but not sudden in a wanton war." As you read this book you begin to realize that Homer is writing accounts in a realistic manner. He doesn't try to spin any of the facts. He is telling what he saw, the good and the bad. He tells about the complacency and the desensitizing about death. The atrocities were many, "i,016 men were found mur- dered, burned alive, shot and killed while inside a barn by the German SS guards. Homer is wounded. His nonchalant description of how well he was cared for is remarkable. He wanted to return to his bud- dies in the front line. "I was back in the front lines, where I was needed and where I belonged." So says Homer. Homer is a famous Greek name, author Wagnon is mightily deserving of such a name, say I. Homer's clear writing allows the reader to feel close to the soldier's feelings and how they managed to cope. He notes the fol- lowing psychologi- cal condition the soldiers were in. "Your mind was not on duty to country, nor on the Japanese or Germans. It was on pleas- ing the D.I. (drill instructor). "How then did boys become killers?" "Homer explains how a bunch of sniveling teenage boys became motivated and made into vicious, vengeful hateful men." Throughout the book Homer commented On the great value he placed upon the fox- hole. A term the soldiers constantly used was, "... return to the safety of the foxhole." When the war was over, Homer like the remaining soldiers were issued points to determine when they could leave for home. The higher the points the sooner they left for home. Staff Sergeant Homer was in charge of life on the base. The adventures on base were helpful, but Homer tells how he and many veterans were constantly reminded of certain hairy moments that occurred, while in battle, still were fresh in their mind. The more I read about Homer's war experiences the more I feel closer to him. Of course, my memories of my eight buddies, especially Joe Sciortino, my best friend, who was in the third landing at Normandy, will always remain in my heart. The war ended on May 8, 1945. Homer's new platoon assignment was guarding 118,000 German prisoners. Here we learn how the German prisoners favored the (Continued on Page 13) Quattro Grille, Rosficceria & Pizzeria ooo 266 Hanover St. 617.720.0444 Bricco Boutique Italian Cuisine ooo 24 i Hanover St. * 617.248.6800 Mar( Seafood & Oyster Bar ooo 135 Richmond St. 617.723.MARE Trattoria II Panino Boston's 1 st Original Trattoria ooo 11 Parmenter St. 617.720.1336 Umbria Prime 5 Story Steakhouse Oyster Bar & Night Club ooo 295 Franklin St. 617.338.1000 Bricco Panefferia Homemade Artisan Breads ooo Bricco Place 241 Hanover St. 617.248.9859 Bricco Salumeria & Pasta shoppe Over 50 Varieties ooo Bricco Place 241 Hanover St. 617.248,9629 (next to Bricco Panetteria) Lounge & Night Club Coming Soon O00 150 Kneeland St. Gelateria & Cannoli Factory Homemade Gelato & Cannolis o00 272 Hanover St. * 64 Cross St. 617.720.4243 Cadillac Day by John Christoforo Pictured in front of the 1973 Eldorado are: yours truly, owner John Lombardo, to the right, Joe Motta and John Silva. As many of you know, the Larz Anderson Automotive Museum is the oldest of its type in the United States. The Anderson's began collecting cars when they were still called "HORSELESS CARRIAGES." Each year the museum's curator, Sheldon Steele, kicks off the spring and summer seasons with Sunday lawn events that feature milestones in automotive history. The first of these events is always Cadillac Day. For the past several years I have represented the Post-Gazette riding to this opening event in a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado convertible with the owner, John Lombardo and several other friends. Once at the museum, we park on the lawn with dozens of other Cadillacs representing decades from the 1920s to the present. Christopher Romanq Receives Scholarship (L-R) John Romano, Christopher Romano and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito Former North End resident Christopher Romano, son of John and Patricia Romano receives a Scholarship from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts of the Sons of Italy. Christopher will be going to UMASS Lowell in the fall to study Electrical Engineering. Chris volunteers at the Nazzaro Community Center and with North End Against Drugs.