The LoDico Family
Emigration to America
Mansfield, Massachusetts




The Second World War impacted greatly the town of Mansfield and the Italians of the North End.

In 1933, Camp Edwards, on upper Cape Cod, was created as a training camp for the Massachusetts National Guard and for soldiers in the regular army. As early as the summer of 1936, Guard units began formal training at the new camp, setting up large tent camps just north of the proposed cantonment area. These early troops were generally poorly equipped, often wearing World War I uniforms and using wooden guns or Enfield rifles for training exercises.

In July 1938, then Governor Charles Hurley dedicated Camp Edwards, naming it in honor of Major General Clarence Edwards, former commander of the 26th (Yankee) Division. Otis Field was made part of it and later expanded when the war broke out. There was a need to create an air patrol for the coast. Otis Field was named after 1LT Frank J. Otis, 26th (Yankee) Division Aviation, killed while on a cross-country flight. In 1940, the U.S. Army leased Camp Edwards and undertook a major World War II mobilization construction program.

In January 1941, the 26th (Yankee) Division, comprised almost entirely of Massachusetts National Guardsmen, was federalized for a year of service and entered Camp Edwards as the first soldiers to train at the camp proper and live in the new barracks.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the draft started and Mansfield began to contribute it's share of men. Unless you volunteered into some branch of the service other than the Army, you were in the Army. The 26th Division was made up with many Italian / American kids. Dom Roman of Mansfield was among them. Guido "Pee Wee" Falotico enlisted and shipped out to Camp Chaffee in Arkansas. George Santucci and Frank Green joined the Marines in the Pacific. Guido 'Father Monk' Amici, another good football player on that first Italian team, soon followed, also into the Marines in the Pacific. Alfred "Pada Poopa" Albertini was in the Army in Europe. Hugo Carbonetti enlisted in the Army and shipped out.

The Army created an embarking spot and Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Mass., came into being. They had a quartermaster set-up so that they could outfit an entire Division in 24 hours to go to Africa or Iceland. Train traffic every night was a frantic mix of chaos and order. Troop trains came through Mansfield from Springfield, Providence and Boston, heading for Myles Standish and Camp Edwards. Commuter trains and truck convoys carrying workers and supplies intersected at Depot Square in Mansfield. Roger Thayer, still on the police force in Mansfield, was working the 4 AM to Noon shift and drew traffic duty at Depot Square every night. He stood on the corner of Cuneo's and Flammia's Shoe Repair and directed traffic.

S. W. Card Company and Bay State Tap and Die of Mansfield were going full speed providing drills, taps, dies and other cutting tools.

The Navy enlisted included two of the Thayer brothers: Norman and Raymond Thayer. Angelo "Dynamite" Cataloni got stationed on a Coast Guard destroyer in the Atlantic. Americo "Mutt" Carnevali shipped out to the Pacific theater. William LoDico, son of my uncle Prospero (Joseph) LoDico, also joined the Navy.

My father was 3 weeks short of turning 27 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Passed over for the younger volunteers, he watched as his friends and the younger brothers of his friends shipped out. On October 19, 1942, the Japanese broadcast that two of Col. Jimmy Doolittle's crews had been put on trial for supposed war crimes, and had been sentenced to death. Soon after they reported that a small number had been executed and that the remainder had been sentenced to life imprisonment. A paper published a photo of an American flyer being beheaded by a Japanese officer. The resultant outrage swept across America and a rush of new recruits flooded draft offices.

My father, Alfred G. LoDico, age 28, was one of those who enlisted when the age restrictions were dropped. He grabbed a large monkey wrench and posed for the newspaper saying, "Now let's really knock the hell out of them, and don't think we won't and can't do it".

The enlistment continued in Mansfield.

The Liberatore family had three sons in the war; Guido (Guy), Wilfredo (Ozzie) and John. How fitting the name 'Liberatore', in Italian means 'to free the oppressed, to liberate'.

The Flammia's also had two sons serving in the Army; Frank and Anthony.

Hugo "Putt" Blandori became an FBI agent, the first Italian from Mansfield, and shipped overseas. Patty Catalani, a close friend of my father, shipped off first to England and later saw action in France. Johnny 'Lundy' Falotico shipped off to the Pacific and saw combat on Guadalcanal.

The men weren't the only ones who served. My Aunt Norma Faiella was a "Rosie the Riveter" at the Fore River Quincy shipyard. My mother volunteered at the Quincy hospital and served in the USO. Dot Austin, one of my father's girlfriends joined the WAC. Another girlfriend, Lorraine became a WAVE pilot.

In July 1943 the Allied army under General Patton invaded Sicily. Soon the names of Calabria, Taranto, and Salerno were as common a name for non Italians as it was for Italians. In late July the Allies made a push into the center of Sicily and on the 23rd won a major victory around the small village of Bompietro. My grandfather's birthplace in 1862 was in that very village - Bompietro. Soon Sicily was freed.

Then in January 1944, came Anzio.

Over 100,000 American and British troops landed on the beaches of Anzio. During the four months of the Anzio Campaign the Allied 6th Corps suffered over 29,200 combat casualties (4,400 killed, 18,000 wounded, 6,800 prisoners or missing) and 37,000 non combat casualties. Finally in May the Allies broke through the Gustev line and raced in to capture Rome on June 4th, 1944.

Young Valentino "Picky" Piccandra was in Europe and saw action in the Italian campaign, a common occurrence for Italian Americans to serve in the Army divisions that invaded Sicily and Italy.

Before much of Mansfield could learn of the tremendous cost of lives in the Italian Campaign, on June 6th, 1944 the Allies launched the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy. Few events in the great war can eclipse the valor and courage shown on Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches that day. Few words here can begin to give justice to what these men sacrificed for our freedom.

And, as it is with war, there came casualties.

And Mansfield had more than it's share of losses, especially the Italian community.

"Mutt" was one of the first to return wounded from Guadalcanal. Mutt was one of the first ones in and one of the first Mansfield sons to come back wounded. Mutt would hang out at the North End Common, close to the fountain. That was his hang-out spot. He would tell stories about being in the service, but only if he was asked. When more reports came in of the killed and wounded, Mutt too became one of those soldiers who suddenly kept away from the common. He was well liked and respected.

Giuseppe 'Joe' Guilano Jr. saw action in the Pacfic: The Battle of Cape Gloucester, was nominated for the Medal of Honor, and was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism.

Staff Sergeant John Liberatore, an Army veteran, serving in the European theater, was killed in action, in France, during the autumn of 1944. Upon learning the news, Guido (Guy) Liberatore enlisted in the Marines to avenge his younger brother's death.

With the victories in Italy, soon Camp Myles Standish was converted over to a POW camp. Thousands of Italian prisoners were shipped to America and were held at the camp. It was rather ironic that one of the largest POW camps for Italians was so close to one of the largest communities of Italian Americans. It wasn't long before some families learned their relatives were in the camps. There were prison breaks, yet most prisoners were easily rounded up and politely escorted back. Perhaps because the war was going well, there were dances and social events that allowed some of the prisoners a chance to mingle with Italians from the surrounding communities. There were tensions, mainly from some families whose sons were serving in the Army, but for the most part, the community of Mansfield embraced these prisoners, and in some cases after the war, marriages took place.

Much later in the war Camp Miles Standish became a staging point for the returning troops. As a point of embarkation, the Camp housed and reoriented many soldiers before they headed home. Finally, as the war came to an end, the Camp was once again converted into a field hospital for the wounded and recovering soldiers.

In late February of 1945 Mansfield began to learn of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the participation of five of her sons: Al Fercozo, George Santucci, Frank Green and Guido Amici, and Guido (Guy) Liberatore. What was thought to be an easy victory turned out to be one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The black volcanic sands of Iwo Jima claimed close to 30% of all our Marine losses in the war. The one month battle for Iwo Jima left 6,821 Marines dead and 20,000 wounded. Twenty-seven Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded in the Battle - more than were awarded to Marines and Navy in any other Battle in our country's history.

Guido Liberatore, a member of the 26th Marines, lost his life on Iwo Jima on March 4th, 1945. Guido was awarded the Purple Heart. Guido Amici was with Guido Liberatore when he died. Guido Amici was part of the fabled 28th Marines, which was the Marine divison that had raised the flag on Mount Suribachi.

There was a Western Union office in Mansfield and it was staffed by one man: Roy Foster Martin, who later became the town's Fire Chief. Roy had the job of delivering those telegrams to the families of those in the military who were wounded, dead or missing. The sight of Roy, off to get a priest or minister to accompany him on a call, was enough to send a shiver up the back of anyone witnessing his brisk walk out from his office.

Twice he knocked on the front door of the Flammia's. Both Frank and Anthony were now lost. After walking up the front steps of the Liberatore home for both John and Guy, Roy came once more to tell the Liberatore family that Wilfredo 'Ozzie' Liberatore, now a veteran of Guadalcanal and Saipan had died in the Pacific. All three sons of the Liberatore's were now lost and Mansfield was in shocked silence.

Soon, two of the Liberatore sons were shipped back to Mansfield for interment at Saint Mary's Cemetery. Guido Liberatore was interred in Hawaii's 'Punchbowl' cemetery after the war. The town turned out to mourn it's fallen sons. During the funeral, the father Felix Liberatore, overcome with grief at the lost of this three sons, suffered a heart attack. Refusing to leave the cemetery until he heard 'Taps' played for his sons, he passed away as he was rushed to the hospital. The Italian community and Mansfield had little time to recover.

"Putt" became missing in action, never to be heard of again.

Angelo "Dynamite" Cataloni was killed in action. He died on May 4th, 1945, just days before the end of the war. He died somewhere in the Atlantic and is memorialized at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. Angelo was awarded the Purple Heart.

In later years Mansfield would come to honor those who gave that 'final measure of devotion'.

Mansfield erected one war memorial on the South Common. In East Mansfield, there is a dedication to the veterans of the Second World War. In the North End, on the North Common is the third memorial dedicated to 'America's greatest generation'.

There is a set of lights at the intersection of Pratt Street and Main Street.

A simple plaque is located at this intersection. Inscribed on it are the names of Guido, Wilfred, and John Liberatore.

North of the lights is the North End.
 
 
 
 

  I want to thank Roger C. Thayer for his contributions to these three pages on Mansfield's past.
  When I first contacted Roger, I had hoped for a few recollections from this 88 year old Mansfield native. 
  I was surprised to learn he was not only the next door neighbor to my LoDico family in the early 1900s,
  but my father's childhood friend from age 6 through age 16. Without Roger's extensive contributions, 
  these pages would not be possible.

 

This web page is dedicated to all the Mansfield Veterans of the Second World War.
The freedoms we so dearly cherish are not a result of Poets, Priests, Politicians or the Press.
Our freedoms were given to us by the American Soldier.