Segment 3


Kassal was sent back to the United States for five weeks before finally making it overseas. They traveled through Gibralter before landing in Mers-el-Kebir [Annotator's Note: Algeria], east of Oran. He remembers before they landed, he was told that all the men were being to sent to an infantry camp, Camp Canasel. This scared Kassal because he was never training to shoot a rifle or handle any infantry equipment. Instead they were sent to an Army Air Force replacement depot near Mostaganem. He was in a group of 25 officers, 5 of which were Jewish, including Kassal. The Jewish officers were the last to receive assignments.Kassal was assigned to the 12th Tactical Air Command, which was assigned to land with the 7th Army in Sicily. Before they departed, he was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division. The Army officers did not want him there at first. They boarded LCVPs [Annotator's Note: Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel] at Arzew and departed North Africa for the invasion of Sicily [Annotator's Note: July 1943]. They landed at Gela, Sicily one hour after H-hour. He only saw one other Army Air Force officer on the beach, a major general digging a slit trench. He had no idea what the major general was doing until they were bombed and shelled 15 minutes later.Kassal slept in a slit trench the first night of the invasion, he recalls that he felt like he was sleeping in his own grave, he did not think he was going to survive. The next morning, he remembers General Patton [Annotator's Note: General George S. Patton, Commander of the US Seventh Army at this time] leading the briefing. He thought Patton was extraordinary looking in his appearance and dress and he had a high squeaky voice. Kassal thought he was the best general in Europe and he admired him greatly.


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