Early LIfe

Life in Fascist Italy

Growing up in Pennsylvania

Becoming a Soldier and Officer

Deployment to Europe

Platoon Commander and Executive Officer

Battle of the Bulge

Assault Into Germany

Siegfried Line to War's End

Nuremburg Trials Preparation

Fabricating an American Flag

Nuremburg Prisoners

Military Decorations

Postwar

Crossing the Minefield

Annotation

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Lombardo was born in Calabria in Southern Italy in 1919. He grew up there until the age of ten. He had an older and younger sister. Both sisters would eventually move to California. Lombardo's father came to the United States in 1905. He grew up in America and traveled back and forth to Italy. He married in his home country but returned to the United States to prepare the way for his family. Even at age ten, Lombardo served as the man of the family. The family had a lot of property in Italy. They were self-contained. People wondered why they were coming to America since they owned a home, wheat fields, a winery, a fruit orchard, an olive grove and even a hillside full of wood. The latter was important as a source of fuel. Lombardo's father came to know what living in America meant. The freedom was appealing to him. He obtained his citizenship in 1927 and sent for his family two years later. On 3 October 1929, Lombardo arrived at Ellis Island along with his mother and two sisters. Entry to the United States would have been barred if anyone had tuberculosis, bad character, or illiteracy. The family was crossing through the last of the three check stations where the guards at each one looked to be seven feet tall. Lombardo was concerned that the last station might not be successfully passed. It dealt with illiteracy. When the guard asked Lombardo's mother where her destination was, her ten year old son pulled her skirt and said in English that she should remember that Altoona had two o's in it. So when she answered she said Altoona exaggerating the sound of the two o's. Then she said "PA" instead of Pennsylvania. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo chuckles that she did not use the full state name only its abbreviation.] She did not know that PA meant Pennsylvania. She only knew it was on the letters her husband sent to her from America. They successfully passed the third station and landed on the sidewalks of New York City. Lombardo's father told his son to be proud of his heritage, but he had to do three things quickly. He had to obey all laws and be a good citizen but, importantly, learn English as quickly as possible. That guidance stuck with Lombardo throughout his life. The family reunited in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Back in Italy, Lombardo had assumed the role of man of the house. He had to guard the fields to prevent pilferage. He would shout at anyone attempting to take the produce. He was only ten years old, but thieves would exit quickly without stealing anything after he shouted at them. One night he had a major scare. The trail that he took had a fork in it. One path led to the town; while the other led nowhere. There was a structure over the preferred walkway. Lombardo observed that the structure had large snakes hanging from it and huge iguanas on the wall. He could not take the trail that led nowhere so he reached in himself and yelled and ran through the danger. The ability to reach deep within himself to do what needed to be done would pay dividends during his wartime experience. Lombardo would spend time around the house, but when his sister began to sing, he would leave. She was training to be a singer. His mother gave her children a soft boiled egg for their health. He would dump it off the balcony. A goat herder would provide the family with fresh goat milk. Unlike their neighbors, Lombardo's family had their own oven to bake bread. They were not dependent upon a community oven. Looking back at the dental care that was available in Italy, Lombardo sees just how lucky Americans are to have what they have. A woman down the street in Italy had to lie in the street while her husband extracted a tooth from her mouth using pliers. Lombardo did not know about the United States when his father sent a Christmas card showing a boy pushing his baby sister in a sleigh on the snow. To Lombardo, who had never seen snow and ice in Southern Italy, he thought the American boys must have been very strong. His hometown was small. It had 6,000 people. Everyone was self-sufficient. It was settled by the Saracens in 600 AD. The Ionian Sea was visible. The family went to the beach once a year for a month. There was a thatched hut for them to use. It looked like it was from Polynesia. The beach, like most in the world, had sand that would get very hot. Florida beaches have white sand that reflects the heat. The annual beach vacations for one month were always fun for Lombardo.

Annotation

Samuel Lombardo saw that life was getting tougher and tougher under Mussolini [Annotator's Note: Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini]. Lombardo's father was anxious to get his family out of the country [Annotator's Note: Lombardo's father had become an American citizen in 1927]. Once or twice a month, all citizens had to turn out and observe the Black Shirts in a parade. The Black Shirts were not in the Army. They were a group of Mussolini supporters that were his henchmen. Many were illegals. The citizens had to put their hands up in the air when the parade passed [Annotator's Note: the Fascist salute was the precursor of the salute that was adopted by the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler]. During one parade, Lombardo stood close to the ancient dungeon. Beside him was a frail, elderly man who was stooped over. The man could not raise his arm to salute the Black Shirts. Two of the Fascists came over and grabbed the old man and brought him to the dark and inhospitable dungeon. Lombardo at nine or ten years of age was extremely angry with that. He could not do anything about it. The Fascists put a tax on everything including water from the ocean. A man tried to obtain water in order to extract salt. He was caught and fined. Lombardo had no exposure to the outside world and thought that was just the way things were. The only education he had in the lower grades was about Italy and how courageous the country was in the First World War. After reaching America, when he debated with his sister about how great the Roman Empire was, he reminded her that the family in Italy did not even have an outhouse. It was such a primitive existence. The Americans learned to make an outhouse when they settled the west. As students in Italy, the boys and girls would alternate at recess relieving themselves behind the building. The dogs would come in afterward and clean up the mess left behind. The Italy Lombardo remembers was both primitive and superstitious. He dispels many of the myths that were important to the uneducated people. The town's first bicycle came along in 1929. Some thought the man on the bicycle was the devil. The first aircraft flew over about the same time. The local population thought the plane was the devil. Lombardo had an encounter with Black Shirts. He had the day off to see the parade. As an athlete, he had shoes to run in but the Black Shirts made him remove them to run barefoot on the gravel. They said it would toughen him up. His mother refused to buy Lombardo a Black Shirt. All flags other than the Italian flag had to be registered with the authorities. He had an American flag and a Red Flag. His father was a Socialist and had fought against the Fascists. Those flags had to be hidden in the attic. When the mayor and two Fascists henchmen came to query his mother about declaring any flags she had in the house, Lombardo created such a tantrum that they left rather than tolerate the cranky child. Lombardo was too much for them. At the time, the American flag represented freedom to Lombardo. He thought the streets were paved with gold in the United States. He came to understand more about freedom after he reached America.

Annotation

Samuel Lombardo appreciated his boyhood in Pennsylvania. He grew up admiring the forefathers of the United States. They were his heroes. He spent his youth outside of Altoona near the Juniata Creek. He attended a one room schoolhouse. Mrs. Adams [Annotator's Note: no given name provided] did a superb job teaching the youngsters. She taught her new Italian students the basic words and commands they would need to start their transition to the English language. When Lombardo's godfather gave him an Italian flag, he expected to be chastised for having the foreign flag in his pocket as he would have been in Mussolini's [Annotator's Note: Italian Fasciast dictator Benito Mussolini] Italy. Instead, Mrs. Adams asked him to do a show and tell about what the flag with its emblems and three colors meant. Lombardo knew that he was living in a country that really had freedom. He had been frightened about being arrested for having a foreign flag, but that was not the case. Lombardo was free to roam the woods and carry his .22 rifle to hunt varmints and game during season. The woods became his home. He became familiar with the terrain. He learned to read a map. It would serve him well in the military. His friends during basic asked Lombardo if he was bucking to be corporal. Lombardo did not know what the word bucking meant. He would eventually become the topographical sergeant for the battalion. Growing up in Pennsylvania was very good for Lombardo. Prior to joining the Army, Lombardo had been in the NYA [Annotator's Note: National Youth Administration] and the National Guard. The NYA was help for people during the Great Depression. Lombardo learned woodworking and other skills at the school. They would go to state parks and assist in the work there. He was paid 25 dollars per month. His father worked for the WPA, Works Progress Administration, and earned 85 dollars a month. Lombardo's country school only went to the eighth grade. After graduating, he had to attend school in the city. He learned to play football and enjoyed the sport. He held class leadership positions. The teachers were tough. One elementary teacher held a spelling contest and anyone who misspelled a word was turned over her lap for a swat on the bottom. Lombardo missed 15 words. The girls would get paddled too. Lombardo learned to enjoy spelling. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo chuckles.] He learned that many of the words had their roots in the Italian and Latin languages. He became a good speller. It was good to have tough teachers.

Annotation

Samuel Lombardo joined the National Guard on 11 November 1939. He had a friend in the Guard who coaxed him into doing so. Within an hour of signing up, Lombardo was in the patriotic parade. That was the best time and the worst time. He was proud to be in the parade, but he had to wrap the leggings around his legs. It was difficult to do it properly. They had to be tight enough to stay in place but not so tight that it cut off circulation. He knew how to right shoulder arms so they started down the Main Street of Altoona when the commander ordered left shoulder arms. That command threw Lombardo. He had to just grab the weapon and move it over without regard to the proper steps to do so. He managed to get through the parade. While he was in the woods on exercises, he was assigned to chop wood. He was so good at it that he did the cutting quickly. It was his only KP [Annotator's Note: kitchen patrol or kitchen police] assignment in his whole military career. He went on maneuvers in the Carolinas. He was a good map reader so he plotted the routes. He did a good job, but he was lucky, too. It was over 100 degrees in the thicket when the first sergeant came over to him. They had arrived at a hill and the non-com [Annotator's Note: non-commissioned officer] told Lombardo that the Colonel thought they were lost. Lombardo said he knew where they were and should just stay the course. When they reached the top of the hill, they could see the officer's tent just 25 yards away in the cotton field. The officer was very pleased with Lombardo and even commended him to his general. It even surprised Lombardo that he hit his destination that close. Lombardo knew that once the compass direction was selected, it was imperative to stick with it. Otherwise, a person could get lost. On the return to base, the outfit reached Lynchburg, Virginia. While camped, the men heard over the radio that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. No one knew where Pearl Harbor was located. The division [Annotator's Note: the 28th Infantry Division] returned to Indiantown Gap. They refurbished and went to Camp Livingston in Louisiana. It was a World War 1 camp. All the sinks and bathing facilities were made out of concrete. It was primitive. After being there for a month, Lombardo applied for OCS [Annotator's Note: officer candidate school] and was sent to Fort Benning in Georgia. General Cap Callus [Annotator’s Note: unsure of spelling] was a classmate of Lombardo. Callus was commander of the 28th Division. Lombardo did not find that out until years later at a division reunion at Carlyle Barracks. They both had been in OCS-31, the same class. The General asked Lombardo if he remembered the 76 sergeants from Louisiana on their train. Lombardo said that memory was why he had become a general. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.] Lombardo was assigned to Headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. He had joined the National Guard because he could see the war clouds looming. His parents did not want him to join the Army. They would have preferred the Air Force. Lombardo knew that Hitler [Annotator's Note: German dictator Adolf Hitler] was on a rampage and within a couple of years the United States would be in the war. That was his rationale for joining the Guard. The fact that his adopted country would be fighting against Italy did not mean much to Lombardo. He felt he would be fighting for Uncle Sam and the new home that he loved. When Hitler banded with Mussolini [Annotator's Note: Italian dictator Benito Mussolini], it turned Lombardo against Italy. Lombardo only returned to Italy once. It was 1993 when he visited his hometown and then traveled north to Milan. There he encountered a woman who bragged about having a penthouse but complained that it was destroyed by American bombers. Lombardo said she should have told Mussolini. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.] They broke up after that so they did not get into a fight. Lombardo felt that the Italian people did not fully support Mussolini. The Italians think more like Americans than they did with him. The dictator subjugated the people by initially doing good things for them but later tightening controls over them. Once a month, a Black Shirt or other official would come to town and show a film projected against a wall. It showed what Mussolini did for them. The first thing Mussolini did was drain the Pontine Marshes and make rice fields. He also created the silkworm industry for Italy. Lombardo was just nine or ten years old. His community was largely illiterate in 1928 or 1929. When one man saw Mussolini sign his name quickly to a decree, he said to his friend that the dictator must be very intelligent to write so fast. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo chuckles.] After OCS graduation at Fort Benning, Lombardo was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry. It was 14 July 1942. He was assigned as a training officer to teach map reading at Camp Robinson, Arkansas for a year. He also led a company of 100 men. A new camp in Texas named Camp Fannin was opened up. Lombardo was sent there to be part of the initial cadre of officers. He had B Company, 112th Regiment [Annotator's Note: Company B, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division] there for about a year. The training continued while Lombardo repeatedly volunteered for overseas duty. He was told constantly that he was needed to teach map reading. Finally, in October 1944, five officers left Camp Fannin for a new assignment in Europe. They left for Fort Shanks in New York but stopped in Washington while en route. One of the officers, Lieutenant Duncan, had served on Guadalcanal and had been wounded. He was not pleased about having to go to Europe. The men went to a large Chinese restaurant and got into a squabble with the owner about the tip for the staff. Duncan grabbed the proprietor by the neck and took back the tip he had formerly paid. That could not be done today or even then except for a guy like Duncan. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.]

Annotation

Samuel Lombardo went to Fort Shanks prior to going to Pier 42 in New York for departure on the Queen Mary. Lombardo was given a company of men to take care of. They were all billeted below deck while he stayed in the promenade above. At darkness, the doors were secured at the end of the men's hall. If the ship had been torpedoed, they would have all perished. It was a good trip over nearly five days. There were no submarine scares. They landed in Scotland at the Firth of Clyde. Lombardo thought he would be able to see a bit of Scotland, but he did not. The debarking of the ship began from the bottom so his troops came off first. They went to Chester, England where they had no hot water for the two nights they stayed there. They transited to Southampton where they boarded vessels for the trip to France and Omaha Beach. It was November [Annotator's Note: 1944]. Climbing down the cargo net to the boats for transport to the beach was tricky. The timing had to be right so that a person did not fall into the water. Across Omaha Beach was an apple orchard where their tents were set up. An officer had heard of Calvados and went into town. He returned with an empty bottle. He was completely drunk. He may have died. It was raining the next morning when the men were called out. The officer did not show up. Lombardo did not see him again. The troops marched to Carentan which was a railhead for transport north. The men loaded in 40 and 8's [Annotator's Note: a boxcar designed to carry 40 men or 8 head of livestock]. They headed to the big Paris railhead but stops were frequent. It was cold so Lombardo designed a heater to keep the car warm. He told the men to place stones under the barrel. Lombardo was a light sleeper and soon smelled smoke. He looked under the drum and saw the stones were burning. They were not stones but coke. The men could not tell at night when they collected the stones along the track that it was actually coke. The coke was burning a hole in the car floor. Lombardo was anxious. He thought the car would burn. He had the men toss the drum and the ignited materials out along the track. The men made a circle around the burning floor and did their duty and put the fire out. That was the best way he could put it. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.] The men were warm and comfortable for awhile. They placed empty ration boxes around the hole and left it to be discovered by others. Uncle Sam probably had to pay for the car. The troops arrived in Verviers, Belgium. The men were all assigned at that point. Lombardo went to the 99th Division. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division]. It was November and rainy and snowy with bad weather.

Annotation

Samuel Lombardo was assigned to the 394th Regiment as both a platoon commander in Company I [Annotator's Note: Company I, 3rd Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] and the company executive officer. He held two jobs. That depicts how thin the lines were. Bradley [Annotator's Note: US Army General Omar Bradley] said the lines were intentionally made thin to draw the Germans in. The company commander, J.J. Marsh, took Lombardo around to see the company. It took awhile to see all the positions because they were so spread out. Foxholes seemed have 70 to 100 yards or more between them. The distance and rough terrain combined to complicate being able to spot supporting positions. Lombardo commented to his captain that a large group of men could transit between company positions. Marsh replied that Lombardo should forget what he learned at Fort Benning. He told Lombardo that the situation represented how business was done at the front. Lombardo could not refute that since he had just arrived. The next day, Lombardo had to pay the men in the forward points. The men were paid in a variety of currencies and script. Lombardo had to not only pay each man but also to return and make money orders for them. After all the transactions, Lombardo had a huge excess in script. He took it to the Finance Officer who chewed him out. He was messing up the officer's books. Lombardo's company was designated as the division reserve. That usually falls to a regiment, not a company. It again reflected just how thin the lines were. The troops were covering three times the area they normally would. A call came that contact with Colonel Allen [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling] of the 393rd [Annotator's Note: 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] had been lost. That was the 16th [Annotator's Note: 16 December 1944], the day the Bulge started. Marsh would defer many of his decisions to Lombardo. As Lombardo was about to leave the command post, he was told to replace the MLR [Annotator's Note: Main Line of Resistance] with his company. That would mean that 160 men would have to hold back two panzer divisions and a division of Volksgrenadiers. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.]

Annotation

Samuel Lombardo gave Captain Marsh the orders and moved forward into the action. [Annotator's Note: Even though Lombardo was the executive officer for the company led by Captain J.J. Marsh, the captain often deferred to his exec for issuance of orders. This occurred at the start of the Battle of the Bulge on 16 December 1944.] He and his men worked their way up a trail to reach Colonel Allen. Allen only had six officers left and one was crying. They had been hit hard but maintained their position. Lombardo had his men build their positions around a knoll. They spent the night there. He told his men not to respond to any curious noises in the night. It could be the enemy trying to determine their placement. The next morning, the captain and a doctor loaded as many wounded as possible into an ambulance. Others had to be abandoned. Lombardo never previously acknowledged that some wounded were left behind. Lombardo was given a box of chocolates. He passed the treats around and attempted to lift the spirits of the men. Orders were given to withdraw. Being topographical sergeant, Lombardo led the battalion and his company out of the pocket. Elsenborn Ridge was their destination. As the group proceeded, two tanks were seen. There was a defilade so Lombardo placed the troops there. He had visions of jumping aboard the tanks and single-handedly taking them out. As the tanks came down the road toward the Americans, they turned the opposite way. That was a relief. Halfway back to the Ridge, he reached the hill and saw all the American forces withdrawing with their equipment. It was very demoralizing. Lombardo was convinced that the events just could not be happening to them. It was impossible that the strong American Army was being pushed back. The men had not eaten in two days. A field of cattle beets was found and Lombardo attempted to provide food for his men. The vegetable was just too tough and tasteless to consume. The beets were the consistency of cork from a wine bottle. The men eventually gave up on eating them but at least Lombardo tried to feed them something. The next evening, they reached Elsenborn and got up on the line. They had not eaten in three days and had lost contact with their kitchens. Lombardo asked a volunteer to go back and try to find the kitchen. Meanwhile, he looked up on the Ridge and spotted a church steeple. There was a foot of snow, but Lombardo decided to head that direction. As he was crossing an open field, two aircraft flew above him. Lombardo foolishly waved at the aircraft. He then noticed the German cross on the first plane. The two planes were in a dogfight. The German aircraft was shot down by the P-47 [Annotator's Note: Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bomber]. The enemy pilot bailed out and was captured. It was the only dogfight that Lombardo witnessed in the war. Afterward, Lombardo felt so dumb having waved at the German plane. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.] When Lombardo arrived at Elsenborn Ridge he found that all the field kitchens were there. He was provided with supplies to load in a jeep and a trailer for his men. Soon, there was a bombardment but no one was hit and the supplies were brought up to the men. They had food for the first time in three days. The jeep driver immediately turned around and left. He did not want to stay near the firing line any longer than he had to. Lombardo's men started digging in on the Ridge. He anticipated a big attack was coming. The command post was dug deep with steps on each end. The company commander, J.J. Marsh, wanted to know why it was so deep. Lombardo assured him that when the bombardment commenced, the officer would appreciate the depth. Trips were made back and forth to get K-rations. At five o'clock in the morning, the Germans threw a heavy bombardment at the Americans. It lasted continuously for half an hour and felt like Armageddon. There were 88s [Annotator's Note: German 88mm multifunctional artillery pieces], Nebelwerfers [Annotator's Note: German multi-tube rocket launchers], and other heavy weapons fired at the American troops. Near the end of the bombing, Lombardo's hole was hit. All the excavated dirt had been used to build a parapet in front of the hole. The hole was directly hit and one internal wall collapsed. It was like an inverted ice cream cone. Neither Marsh nor Lombardo was injured. The parapet helped save their lives. Lombardo felt he was vindicated for the depth of the hole. Shortly after the German bombardment, the American artillery responded. There were no further responses. The Germans must have had their backs broken. The outfit moved out and advanced through the plains of Cologne. There was not much fighting there. While on Elsenborn Ridge late at night, a sergeant told Sergeant Rosen [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling] in Lombardo's command that his patrol had been shot up. The non-com [Annotator's Note: non-commissioned officer] was crying. His patrol leader had been severely wounded. They were up on the front line. Lombardo and his men were 500 yards back in a clear area. There was snow in the open field and then a wood line where Germans were situated with their machine guns. The sergeant and the wounded lieutenant were the only survivors from the patrol. Lombardo called Marsh and told him he was going to help the officer. Marsh asked if it could wait until daylight. Lombardo replied that it would be more dangerous to walk the open field in the light of day. Lombardo wrote an article on this action. It was called “Rescue before Dawn.” The Army Times changed the title to “No Lieutenants are Left Behind.” Lombardo did not like the inference that individuals who were not officers would be left. Lombardo took a medic, the patrol sergeant, a private and a litter and told them not to talk. There was a blizzard and wind but the machine gun was very close to where they were going. They kept in contact with each other through touch. The medic administered morphine to the wounded officer so he would not call out. Carrying the lieutenant back was the hardest physical thing Lombardo had to do in the war. The wounded man had to be brought up a 25 degree slope over 500 yards in the harsh weather. Every 20 feet, the men had to stop. Soon, flares were ignited. The rescue patrol had to freeze in whatever position they were in. The lieutenant was brought to the aid station. Lombardo never heard any thanks from anyone or anything else concerning this action.

Annotation

Samuel Lombardo and his regiment [Annotator's Note: 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] experienced light resistance through the plains of Cologne. It was, however, the first time that anti-aircraft weapons were used against ground troops. When it happened to Lombardo, he sent a squad to flank the weapon and capture it. As they neared Cologne, orders were received to transit by truck to Remagen. A bridge existed there that would enable crossing of the Rhine River for Allied men and equipment. That was a full speed trip. Lombardo was placed in a barn near the bridge. He told his men to get some rest but there were two 40mm cannons next to them that fired every 20 minutes. The men slept, but Lombardo did not. Late that night, their time came to cross the bridge. There were railroad crossties near the Ludendorff Bridge since it was a railroad bridge. Every two men took a plank and moved it forward to lay over the tracks. That facilitated truck traffic. Lombardo's regiment was one of the first to cross the bridge. Every 20 yards or so was a gaping hole from aerial bombardment. The holes were from friendly aircraft. The bombs had gone right through the bridge. Every 20 seconds there was shelling to avoid. The progress was at 20 yard intervals. It was the longest 1,200 feet Lombardo ever had to travel. His outfit made it across with no one lost even though it was dangerous. They made a right turn and went to Hönningen. It was the first city south. The Americans took the high ground but were shelled. Company K came around and took the town in the next series of days. Meanwhile, on the hill, Lombardo's medic took care of 22 casualties in one day. A reporter with a green band came up. Lombardo tried to track him down. Andy Rooney was a reporter at the same time. He would go on to work with CBS. The unnamed reporter said he had to see Hönningen. Lombardo tried to hold him back because of the heavy opposing fire. When Lombardo let him go, the reporter rose up and was immediately struck down by a sniper. The man realized he was so lucky not to have any worse a wound. Lombardo should have told him that he had been warned. The wound was treated and the man sent to the aid station. His identity was never determined by Lombardo. Lombardo tired of the machine gun fire directed his way. No one was doing anything so he took the steps to halt the fire. He tied a spool of telephone wire to his waist and advanced solo to higher ground to get a better vantage point. He should have taken someone with him but he did not. He crawled through an area full of empty German foxholes. He reached the top of a hill and crawled in a hole to put the phone in service. He should have had someone there to provide back-up protection for him. When he looked down, he saw the enemy machine gun location. He called in mortar fire but the Germans escaped. It was the end of the incoming fire. When Lombardo returned to his lines, nothing was said to him even though the enemy machine gun was silenced. The outfit went down the hill and began the march to the Ruhr. While on a hill at Remagen, Lombardo saw artillery fire that was hitting trees instead of the targets. From his vantage point, Lombardo advised that a higher trajectory was needed. A sergeant and a young soldier who looked to be 15 or 16 came to join him. They represented the artillery and required the position. A tree burst exploded and killed the sergeant. The young boy had his arm severed and died in Lombardo's arms. He cradled the boy like it was his son. Sergeant Rosen [Annotator's Note: Lombardo's company sergeant] and Lombardo were not hurt in their hole. Lombardo went back and told J.J. [Annotator's Note: Captain J.J. Marsh was Lombardo's company commander] that he was going to rip out all the wires. The men on the hill had been killed by their own artillery. The firing stopped and Lombardo and his outfit moved out toward the Ruhr. One company commander did not agree with Lombardo's assessment of their location and made his own course. Lombardo did not see him again. Meanwhile, J.J. stuck with Lombardo's map readings. Soon they encountered friendly tanks. They continued into the Ruhr where there was not much fighting. They found a town house with the community supply of eggs. They had not eaten good food in a long time. Sergeant Olivera found a ham which was still warm from being cooked. The men ate their fill of the good food. The men found a beautiful German lady with a French farm helper assisting her. She was the wife of an SS man. The Frenchman was told he was free but he wanted to stay. He had a job there helping with the horse and cow. He told Captain J.J. that he did not want to leave. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.] Lombardo picked up an Iron Cross from the home. The Americans happened upon many German stragglers. They finally reached the last city in the Ruhr, Aßlar. The Americans were on a hill near the city. They observed 300,000 German troops and their armor. Lombardo received an order to take a patrol and probe forward. He knew that the mass of Germans were ready to surrender. Lombardo took Sergeant Rosen with him because the non-com [Annotator's Note: non-commissioned officer] spoke German. About two thirds of the way to the huge enemy force, the patrol came upon a German aid station. There was a German captain, doctor and two nurses feverishly packing. They had no weapons. Lombardo told them to continue. The thousands of soldiers would not surrender to him because of his lack of higher rank. On the way back to friendly lines, the Americans commandeered a German farmer in his wagon to transport them. They covered themselves with hay and returned to their lines. The farmer did not speed up because he had a pregnant horse. The wagon was challenged at the American line but allowed to proceed. When he was queried by American tankers about potential enemy troops ahead, Lombardo only acknowledged the aid station. The tanks moved out and advanced toward the enemy lines. The next day, a brigadier general took the surrender of the mass of Germans. Lombardo turned around and got his second ride of the war toward Nuremburg. They spent the night there and made the last push for the end of the war. He walked 120 miles in five days. The only thing he hit was a cavalry veterinary unit. A German colonel was in charge and headed to Regensburg. The Americans could hear the fighting in the distance. Lombardo covered 60 miles in the first two days of the march. Lombardo told J.J. that the marching was better than fighting. They pursued the Germans who never turned to fight. Then the war ended.

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Samuel Lombardo and his regiment [Annotator's Note: Lombardo was a platoon leader and the executive officer of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] crossed the Siegfried Line at night. A guide from the 82nd Airborne was there. He took them to the Siegfried Line with its huge pillboxes. J.J. [Annotator's Note: Captain J.J. Marsh was Lombardo's company commander] told Lombardo to make a relief group and proceed forward. The captain did not say what size or who would do it but just gave the order. The captain and the remainder of the company would join Lombardo and his group the next day. The guide from the 82nd brought Lombardo and his men to his colonel. The officer asked Lombardo how many men he had with him. When Lombardo responded that he had 36 men, the colonel furiously replied that he had lost 200 men while his battalion took the hill during the previous day. The 36 man replacement group was far short of what was needed to hold the prominence. The colonel was slated to withdraw the next day but called General Gavin [Annotator's Note: US Army General James Gavin commanded the 82nd Airborne Division] and expressed his concern over leaving the hill. It had cost so many men to capture. The division commander told the colonel that he had to leave to take part in another upcoming action. The colonel left his phone with Lombardo since the latter had no means of outside communication. He departed saying "may God be with you." The airborne commander said that the 82nd personnel had to leave and expressed his apology for not being able to stay with Lombardo and his platoon. Before he departed, the colonel told Lombardo where his troop concentrations had been and the latter deployed his men accordingly. He replaced the remainder of a whole battalion with just 36 men. They had to move in quietly so that the Germans did not know what was happening. He stayed up all night and rotated his troops and the artillery fire he was directing. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo gestures the fire alternating in multiple, random directions.] He changed fire every 20 minutes. In the morning, he could hear the enemy's kitchen preparations and their horses neighing. Lombardo assumed that his artillery fire must have hit the kitchen. The German battalion was still there despite the American fusillade. If the enemy had attacked Lombardo's platoon, they would have wiped them out. As his platoon was going up, a young replacement about 16 years old joined them. He was obviously scared to death. Lombardo told the boy to stick with him. He planned to take him under his wing. The snow was everywhere. The treetops had been blown away. As they walked along, they felt legs under their feet. The young soldier questioned Lombardo about what he was feeling. So as not to make the boy any more anxious, Lombardo said it was merely pine tree branches even though the veteran knew it was frozen bodies below the snow. When the rest of the company joined them the next day, J.J. told Lombardo that he would have a pass to go to Paris. It was Lombardo's only liberty of the war. He was extremely fatigued at the time. As he passed through the forests and battlegrounds, he spotted 200 to 300 dead paratroopers. Lombardo paused and said a prayer for the fallen American troopers. It was demoralizing to see the dead under the treetops that had been destroyed by the tree bursts. Seeing those dead paratroopers made Lombardo fully understand why the colonel he relieved was so mad that he had to withdraw and leave the hill to just a platoon. When he reached Paris, Lombardo was so beat that he slept about 16 hours. For his only pass of the war, Lombardo just rested up and then returned to the front. He did manage to see the Follies Bergère. As he walked the city, he noticed locals using a nail on a stick to retrieve cigarette butts that had been discarded. They were precious to the Europeans. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo laughs.] Lombardo did not smoke and gave all his cartons of cigarettes away. Similarly, he spread his two or three bottles a month whiskey ration around among his men. His men loved him for that. They told Lombardo that they would still be lost in the woods if he was not with them. The training in Altoona really paid off. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo became proficient in map reading as a youth exploring the woods near his hometown of Altoona, Pennsylvania.] For the end of the war, Lombardo and his platoon were at an old farmhouse near Partenkirchen in Bavaria. There were two Russian DPs [Annotator's Note: displaced persons] there. The DPs had found a chicken and asked Lombardo if they could cook it. They had been there for two years and never had chicken during that time. Lombardo gave his permission to them. Lombardo's medic, Murchison [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling], asked if he could go hunting. Lombardo told him to change his Red Cross helmet because medics were not allowed to carry weapons. After that, he gave his permission. In short order, the medic and another man brought back a deer. The mess sergeant and Sergeant Rosen [Annotator's Note: Rosen was Lombardo's platoon sergeant] were there. Rosen was a butcher from Pittsburgh. Venison was served to the platoon. The next day, another deer was brought back. The venison meals were well received, but the third day, the men were all reassigned to different outfits. Lombardo was lucky because he was assigned to the palace [Annotator's Note: Palace of Justice] in Nuremburg.

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Samuel Lombardo had 100 people working for him in the effort to get the palace and courtroom ready [Annotator's Note: preparatory to the start of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunals on 20 November 1945]. There were SS troopers doing the work with two American soldiers watching each one. Lombardo reported to 1st Infantry Division Colonel J. T. Corley [Annotator's Note: later US Army Brigadier Genral John Thomas Corley] who was a highly decorated officer. The first person he dealt with from the defense side was the wife of General Jodl [Annotator's Note: German Army General oberst Alfred Jodl]. Jodl took Hitler's place in Berlin. She carried an apple and an orange and requested that Lombardo give them to her husband. The courthouse was on one side of the street with the jail on the opposite side. A tunnel connected the two buildings. That prevented the prisoners from being exposed. Lombardo was on the courthouse side. Von Ribbentrop [Annotator's Note: German Foreign Minister Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop] and the others were kept on the opposite side. Lombardo at first denied knowing about Jodl being present, but Jodl's wife said the Berlin Stars and Stripes said the trials would be there. Lombardo held to his story and refused to help her. She left. In another situation, a little old lady was at the gate every night at five o'clock. She said she was waiting to see Panzer General Patton [Annotator's Note: US Army Lieutenant General George S. Patton]. The Germans were afraid of Patton but they admired him. The building was prepared and readied for the trials. The carpenters did a fine job. They even made a "Home Sweet Home" sign for Lombardo.

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Following the Battle of the Bulge, Samuel Lombardo had to return to Verviers for supplies. All the way back from the front, he noticed there were no American flags being displayed. When he reunited with his company, he told J.J. [Annotator's Note: Captain J.J. Marsh was the company commander of Lombardo's Company L, 3rd Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] that he wanted a flag. Ten minutes later, J.J. came to Lombardo in his foxhole and told him that supply would not issue a flag to a unit so close to the front. That angered Lombardo. He decided to make a flag for his platoon. Crossing the plain of Cologne, he passed homes that had white flags or sheets displayed along the street following surrender of their town. He saw one that was three by five and decided that it was just the right size. He found pillow cases in a beautiful home that were all stuffed with goose breast pin feathers. G.I.s were playing baseball outside when the cases were opened. The feathers clouded the area and surprised the players. The curtains were the perfect blue. The platoon sergeant, who was positioned to catch stragglers, carried the pouch of material. Every time they stopped, the material would be broken out and work on the flag would proceed. Sergeant Rosen [Annotator's Note: Lombardo's platoon sergeant] would get a sewing machine from the local Bürgermeister [Annotator's Note: a local political position similar to a mayor in an American town or city] to aid in their efforts. Lombardo cut the first star and then his medic used surgical shears to cut the rest. They would work late at night on the flag. The next morning, the sewing machine would be returned to the Bürgermeister and the men would move to the next town. It took two and a half months to make the flag. The last day of the war, the platoon called out a formation and Lombardo had no idea why. They presented him with the flag because of his key role in its fabrication. Lombardo later offered it to the Smithsonian. The museum was grateful but could only promise it would be displayed for a year. They received so many items over a year. After a year, it would go into the archives where few would be able to see it again. Instead, Lombardo gave it to Fort Benning. He brought his family and some friends from Destin to see it on Flag Day. It was in a glass case and would be displayed until it would be replaced with Patton's [Annotator's Note: US Army Lieutenant General George S. Patton] flag. Lombardo's flag would then go to replace Patton's flag in its previous location. That flag meant so much to his men. It raised their morale. Lombardo wrote a book to tell American children how much the flag meant to him [Annotator's Note: Lombardo authored "O'Er the Land of the Free" published in August 2000].

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Samuel Lombardo had interactions with some of the German women held as prisoners after the war. He was sent to where about 100 Wehrmacht girls were held under arrest. They had accompanied the troops for the pleasure of the men. They carried cards indicating their role in the war. They were very fetching in prison wearing shorts and being half naked. One lieutenant got into trouble because the jail door adjacent to the enlisted men's barrack was not kept locked. Lombardo ordered the night sergeant to lock the door. That was really something. Another incident involved an incarcerated SS colonel. He was digging a large hole for nothing. Lombardo told the enlisted men to stop that taboo activity. It was against regulation. He stopped that as well as the activity with the girls. Lombardo wished he would have kept one of the girl's ID cards that showed their picture and indicated their role "for the pleasure of the Wehrmacht." That was his only confrontation with the prisoners after the war.

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Samuel Lombardo received the Silver Star for advancing on a hill under enemy fire. His men hit the ground when the firing started. They had no artillery fire support behind them. The company commander, J.J., asked Lombardo what they were going to do [Annotator's Note: Captain J.J. Marsh was the company commander of Lombardo's Company L, 3rd Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division]. Lombardo was astounded that the commander would defer the decision making to him. Lombardo was behind a six inch tree trunk when a shell passed through it and just missed him. [Annotator's Note: Lombardo gestures that he was missed by approximately six inches.] Lombardo told J.J. the only thing they could do was to fix bayonets and charge up the hill. Lombardo communicated that order to his platoon and the one next to him. They were going to attack across the field and fire at the enemy with their bayonets fixed. When they reached the top of the hill, only four or five men were there. The rest of the German platoon had abandoned their positions. They were about 800 yards away. He received the Silver Star for that action. It was a dangerous act, but something had to be done. An enemy platoon was shooting at them. He also received the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He always seemed to be going back and forth from the front to get supplies. He also repaired wires but was chastised by the battalion commander who felt like it was not his job. Lombardo always felt that, in war, if something needed to be done, he would do it. Every time he saw the wires had been cut up by artillery, he would repair them to provide communication from the front to the rear. In today's wireless world, that problem does not exist. At that time, however, he had to repair the communication wires as needed. When he went back for C rations, he would repair any wire he found that was cut. He had to do what needed to be done even though he was not ordered to do it.

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Samuel Lombardo did not think much of the German people. He felt they were negligent in allowing Hitler's [Annotator's Note:German dictator Adolf Hitler] rise. Lombardo realized that the Italians had been fooled by Mussolini [Annotator's Note: Italian dictator Benito Mussolini] so he partially understood the slow changes that occurred. He felt the Germans were not telling the truth all the time. Lombardo did not hate the Germans but he did hate Hitler. He met an enemy artilleryman after the war who had fought against his division [Annotator's Note: Lombardo served in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division during combat operation in the European Theater] throughout the war. They would become friends and write to each other and call on special occasions. They met at the bridge at Remagen. The German was a healthy individual who liked tennis and played every day. He, along with most people Lombardo knew from the era, is now dead. He was an artilleryman named [Annotator's Note: inaudible] who faced the 99th Division throughout the war. He eventually became judge advocate. After the surrender of Germany, Lombardo did not face the possibility of having to go to the Pacific. He returned to the United States on 19 December 1945 through New York. He saw the Statue of Liberty for the second time. It was great because he had a true appreciation for what America was. The first time [Annotator's Note: when he emigrated from Italy in 1929], he knew some of what the country stood for but in 1945, he knew much better. Winning the war and saving America was really a great thing for Lombardo. When the Battle of the Bulge first started, Lombardo knew that it could not end with a German victory. The Americans just had to win. Coming back and having won the war, he appreciated America much more. Lombardo was separated from active duty in 1962. During the postwar interim, he went into the Intelligence School and served in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. He learned the Japanese language. It was similar to the Italian language in that many of the words end in a consonant and a vowel. His pronunciation was good. He studied hard for a year and then went to Japan. He requested a station in the country so he could use the new language. He was sent to Aomori which was similar to Kentucky. It was referred to as the country of Japan. It was the best thing he did. He got close to the people while he was working counterintelligence. He would travel to different towns and become acquainted with the mayor and other authorities. He found that DPs [Annotator's Note: displaced persons], especially former Japanese prisoners, knew a significant amount about Russia. He learned quite a bit about Japan by being in the country. He also served as the club officer for the airborne division in Hokkaido. He had to keep them happy. He was introduced to golf. It was nice. The whole division came back to Fort Campbell. He had three tours in Japan. He enjoyed them all. He served in the 11th Airborne. Then, he was in counterintelligence and then intelligence. The Japanese did the real groundwork for him. He also served 11 months in Korea. In the last nine months of his service, he was sent to Vietnam. He opened the Intelligence School in Saigon. He contracted intestinal typhoid and almost died. After his retirement, he was listening to the radio and Charles Kauralt with "Dimensions in Health" and going to the VA. He was getting pills which were not helping him. Lombardo usually walked his Irish setter at night. One time, he saw two moons one night. He told the VA they had to do something for him. They continued to prescribe medications that did not help. Lombardo went to a civilian physician after hearing 25 million people had typhoid in America. Studies by Stanford University showed Ampicillin to be effective in treatment of the disease. Lombardo asked his doctor to prescribe it for him. The physician said that if that did not work, the next option was arsenic. That sounded drastic to Lombardo. That was the first time he really was frightened. Lombardo's doctor knew of Ampicillin but had never used it to fight his disease. He received the medication and within three weeks he was completely cured of the typhoid. The day Lombardo's wife died, the Los Angeles Department of Health called him and requested a study be performed on him. [Annotator's Note: There is a slight break in the interview.] Lombardo used the G.I. Bill for his education at the University of California and the University of Maryland. He built up 60 credits at the two colleges. He had no trouble adjusting after the war. He talked about his experiences, and it benefited his adjustment.

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The most memorable experience for Samuel Lombardo during the war came when he had to cross a minefield. It was the most daring thing he did. It took a lot out of him. It was the last three days of the Battle of the Bulge on the German border. There was a large open field at least a thousand yards long. The companies lined up L, K and I. The objective, a hill, was just ahead. The advance began with the first man stepping on a mine. His leg was blown off. He was visible just ahead of all the other troops. He was lying there moaning. Company K started out and its first man had the same misfortune. J.J. [Annotator's Note: Captain J.J. Marsh was the company commander of Lombardo's Company L, 3rd Battalion, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] called and said to Lombardo that it is their turn. Lombardo ordered his scout to lead out. The scout turned white and his eyes became opaque. Lombardo had never seen that before. He could not communicate with the man. He must have had battle fatigue. He collapsed to the ground and had to be carried away. Meanwhile, the wounded men in the field continued to yell. With the snow and the crystal clear air, their voices were loud. After Lombardo had his scout fall right in front of him, he could not ask another man to take the scout's place. As the platoon leader, he decided to take point. He told his frightened men to follow exactly in his footsteps crossing the snow. If Lombardo was injured, Sergeant Rosen [Annotator's Note: Lombardo's platoon sergeant] would take over. Lombardo took a diagonal direction across the 200 yard field. Each step was agony. When he looked back, he saw that not only his platoon but the whole company was following behind him. It was a great feeling to see everyone in his footsteps. They cleared the field and Lombardo was very relieved. J.J. was the last man in the column. There was no indication of gratitude or recognition for his feat. The woods were cleared in three days. The March [Annotator's Note: March 1945] rains came and cleared all the snow. They had to return through the area. Lombardo insisted they return the same way as they previously came. He wanted to see what they went through. They were 200 yards away and awaiting trucks to carry them to another location. Lombardo could see the disturbed sod and thought about lifting a section. A sergeant told him not to risk changing his luck. He stayed away. A net of mines ran as far as he could see along the German and Belgium border. The action took reaching inside himself more than anything he had ever done. To Lombardo, America means freedom and being able to accomplish things if you work hard. He knows the difference in not living in freedom since he experienced it early in his life. He appreciates living here. The forefathers are his heroes. If he would have lived in earlier times, he would have participated in the discovery expeditions out west. America means so much to him. He is honored and humbled to have had a chance to express his feelings and tell his story.

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