Mario DeCarlo was born Stamford, Connecticut in 1925. Even though he grew up during the Great Depression, he had a positive childhood experience. He had plenty of friends and they would take the trolley car around town. His father worked in construction and owned five dump trucks. DeCarlo attended school until the ninth grade when he dropped out to work for various factories to help support his family. He eventually got a job working as a tool die maker after getting training. DeCarlo did not take advantage of the offered deferment and was drafted into the Army in 1943. He was sent to Fort Eustis, West Virginia for his basic training, and then shipped to Louisiana for jungle training. He thought for sure he was headed to the Pacific, but to his surprise he boarded the Queen Mary and headed to Scotland. He was assigned to the 456th AntiAircraft Artillery Battalion [Annotator's Note: 456th AntiAircraft Artillery Battalion, 79th Infantry Division] while at a replacement camp in England. He was trained to drive a truck and half-track [Annotator's Note: M3 half-track; a vehicle with front wheels and rear tracks]. DeCarlo and his unit landed on the Normandy [Annotator's Note: Normandy, France] beachhead five days after the initial invasion [Annotator's Note: D-Day; the Allied invasion of Normandy, France on 6 June 1944]. He recalled using a machine gun to fight in the hedgerows to get the Germans out of trenches. [Annotator's Note: a telephone rings in the background at 0:11:18.000.] He also recalled witnessing the aerial bombardment of Saint-Lo [Annotator's Note: Saint-Lo, France]. He made his way through Paris [Annotator's Note: Paris, France], and he remembered the Parisians excitement to see the American troops come through the city.
Mario DeCarlo recalled using a machine gun to fight in the hedgerows to get the Germans out of the trenches. His unit [Annotator's Note: 456th AntiAircraft Artillery Battalion, 79th Infantry Division] captured a lot of German prisoners, many of them were kids. DeCarlo recalled when he shot down a plane and when he went over to the crash site, he took the pilot's pistol as a souvenir. After taking Paris [Annotator's Note: Paris, France] they did not stay in the city very long but began advancing through France. One night while traveling through France, DeCarlo was sleeping under his half-track [Annotator's Note: M3 half-track; a vehicle with front wheels and rear tracks] when an aerial bombardment began. A piece of shrapnel hit him in the arm and cut him to the bone. He was taken to a field hospital and after being stitched up, he stayed with battalion headquarters for two months until he returned to his unit. After the war ended in Europe, DeCarlo ended up in Munich [Annotator's Note: Munich, Germany] before he was shipped back to the United States to be discharged at Fort Devens [Annotator's Note: Fort Devens, Massachusetts].
Mario DeCarlo recalls electrocuting himself when he attempted to install a light bulb in his pup tent one night. He thought the clothing the military issued was not adequate. Decarlo was invited to a French famly's house to eat eggs and he thought it was funny that the chickens lived in the house. He also recalled going to Adolf Hitler's [Annotator's Note: German dictator Adolf Hitler] Eagle’s Nest [Annotator's Note: Kehlsteinhaus, Obersalzberg, Germany]. DeCarlo had a near death experience when he crashed his jeep in a ditch one night, and a German family came to his rescue.
Mario DeCarlo's most memorable experience of World War 2 was when he was wounded and witnessed dying men in the field hospital. When he returned to civilian life, he started a construction truck company with his father. Later, he began building houses. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer pauses the interview to change tapes at 0:50:52.000.] DeCarlo does not like to watch World War 2 movies because it brings back too many bad memories. DeCarlo fought because he thought the war would not end if he did not join. He feels that World War 2 made him a man because he was only 18 when he got to Germany. DeCarlo believes that World War 2 came out with America on top of the world and he believes that institutions like The National WWII Museum [Annotator's Note: in New Orleans, Louisiana] are very important.
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