Segment 6


Right after George Griffenhagen and other members of the 20th Engineers removed the mines that were holding up Patton’s tanks in Sicily their company was attached to the 82nd Airborne. The assignment of the 82nd was to sweep and clean out the west end of the island. Griffenhagen and the rest of Company E went down the road looking for the 82nd Airborne. They entered a town and noticed the road was lined with Italian soldiers with rifles on their shoulders watching them pass by. They figured out pretty quick that no American troops had been through that town yet. Later that day a major from the 82nd Airborne Division came by in a jeep and pointed them in the direction of a little mountain town. The major then took four GIs, including Griffenhagen, and told them that he was bringing them to a town they were to take control of. When they arrived in the town center it was obvious that the Italians knew they were coming. There was a crowd of people there. The major dropped the four soldiers off. He introduced them to the local chief of police then left. They declared martial law and everybody behaved. The chief of police took them to a building with a fascist flag flying in front. Griffenhagen took the flag and recently donated it to The National WWII Museum. Griffenhagen’s friends got drunk so he ended up being taken by the chief of police to meet an Italian officer who wanted to surrender his garrison. It took three days for the 82nd Airborne to meet up with them. On the second day some of the Italians were getting nervous because no more Americans had arrived so to ease their mind the captain of Griffenhagen’s company had the company’s six trucks driven around through the town. When they arrived Griffenhagen and the other three GIs were relieved. At the end of the island they repaired an airfield for troops to land. From there they went to Palermo where they were turned into military police. The only problem Griffenhagen had while acting as a military policeman was with the local prostitutes. From Palermo the entire 20th [Annotators Note: 20th Engineer Combat Battalion] was devoted to rebuilding all of the bridges between Palermo and Messina that the Germans had destroyed. They were using Italian prisoners to do the heavy work but they could not use them on Sundays. That was the end of Griffenhagen’s war in Sicily. His unit was preparing to land at Salerno but at the last minute they were sent to England.


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