Wednesday, September 02, 2009



Those volcanic islands that are on the way to Japan became islands soaked in blood in 1945.

The Americans were determined to take the islands and the Japanese with their iron will were determined to defend the islands to the death because they knew that they were a stepping stones to Japan.

Thus the stage was set for the bloodiest fight in WW11. The Japanese had pulled soldiers from Burma and other fronts to defend Okinawa. They had peppered the island with pillboxes, tunnels and cave hideouts. This, plus their determination to defend the island to the last man made for one of the deadliest defense systems. AND the Japanese had the high ground.
The Americans had to inch their way up against constant enemy fire.
This combination of Japanese iron will and American determination had created hell's own cesspool on Okinawa. And for the Japanese it was a brutal fight for honor.

The Americans had underestimated the strength of the Japanese on Okinawa. The Japanese had established an elaborate pillbox system designed to maime, kill and deter the Americans. Japanese had dug tunnels between the pillboxes. This was to fool the Americans. Americans knew that they had killed Japs but the Japs retrieved the bodies during the night and it was as if ghosts were snatching the bodies. A deadly game was begun and nighttime was the time for killing on Okinawa. The Japanese game was to call corpsmen in perfect English and then they would kill them at night.

The Japanese had no fear of dying. This resulted in the Japanese pilots flying their planes onto aircraft carriers to destroy the carrier and the Japanese pilot. Japanese were very treacherous and extremely brutal. They would cut the private parts of the dead soldiers and put them on top of the soldiers. They carried photographs of the brutality that they had inflicted on the Chinese. My brother, Giuliano found some pictures about the Chinese brutality and turned them over to intellignce.
Horrendous battles occurred. It was kill or be killed. Sugar Loaf Hill changed hands 14 times. After seven days Sugar Loaf Hill was taken.
My brother said that you could not show emotion and survive. It was indeed a miracle that my brother survived. He was a designated flame thrower and infantry man. The life of a flame thrower is short because the Japanese snipers were always targeting flame throwers. At one point he made the decision to take out some pillboxes. Giuliano's thinking was that either he took the pillbox out or they died. God must have been with him bcause he did take out the pillbox. He said that he hated the job but he had to do it. The odor of burning flesh is horrible when you throw the flames into the tunnels.
Giuliano also said that the life cycle was altered, in other words, you didn't eat when you were supposed to, you did not sleep when you were supposed to and often you lived on the chocolate rations.

Mt Suribachi (Iwo Jima) was another miscalulation by the Americans. There were 21,000Japanese ready to defend Mt. Suribachi. It became a fortress. Kurabyashi was the Japanese High Commander.
There existed a bond between the American men that helped them to win. They were fighting against the iron will of the Japanese that made the fighting extremely vicious.

The Japanese became even more incensed when the flag was raised at Mt. Suribachi. Three of the six men who raised the flag were later killed. The area became known as the meat grinder because of the Japanese ferocity in defending it.
My brother, Giuliano said that near the end of the battle there was a ghostly pull from the dead to have you stay with them.
He resisted the pull thinking that far too many men had already died including Ernie Pyle the correspondent.
Because Admiral Turner miscalculated the number of the Japanese it took much longer and many lives to win in Okinawa.
The battle for Shuri Castle was another brutal battle. My brother said that often there were hand to hand combat battles. He somehow managed to survive.
When all was said and done, over 38,000 Americans were wounded and 12,000 killed in battle.
6 weeks after victory at Okinawa bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
There was no sympathy for the enemy that had inflicted so much pain and suffering for so long.
My brother Giuliano was happy because he was being trained for the invasion of Japan when the bombs were dropped.
If you asked my brother why he survived he would credit God never his own abitlities. Just because a person lacks education does not mean that that person is unintelligent.
When my brother died he had his guns behind his bed. I don't think that the WW11 experience ever left him; he was not afraid of dying.
When he left Italy his grandfather said "Fatti coraggio," never knowing the true meaning of courage that his grandson would show in Okinawa!


IVANO SAYS: Two very important dates slipped by us almost without notice. Seventy years ago, September 1,1939, Hitler's German Army invaded Poland and World War II began. Sixty-four years ago, August 15,1945, Japan surrendered, thus ending the War.
Nancy's article above reminds us all of the countless bloody battles that were fought inbetween those years. Thanks Nancy.


Anonymous said...

Apparently, my brother realized that his real enemies were the Japanese snipers because he would shoot them whenever possible and brought home a Japanese sniper's rifle. He was their target because he was a flame thrower.
I credit him for promoting my education. He was always supportive and bought many interesting books for me as well as the box camera that I was able to take the photographs of the ranch with. I can thank him for giving me the tools that I needed to marry my husband, a Navy Officer. I studied hard and my life has been a continuing education. I will say that law has been easy for me. Paralegal work was easy for me. I am now retired and only do property management for myself. It is a lot of work.
My brother could have been selfish but he felt that I needed all the help I could get because I was the youngest and my parents would not be around since I was born when they were in their late forties or early fifties.
He worked for Aptos Seascape golf course as a greenskeeper.
He died March 5, 2002 in Santa Cruz, California.
I would like to thank Ivano for posting this story.

Canadian Furlan said...

Nancy fantastic recount of your brother's experience during WWII on the Pacific Front. You certainly have continued with your life long journey of never ending education. This is my philosphy as well. You have kept your brother's memory alive and it will remain with you and continue. As mentioned by Ivano there were two important dates that passed by, I feel the most important is September 3, 2009 the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII. I shared this date with my parents who were right in the middle of it in Friuli. My father is 86 and Mom 82. They recall the lead up of potential war. My parents were raised their entire lives under the Fascist rule, during this time they were prepared for war starting at a very early age. My Mother remembers conducting countless hours of practice during their elementary school years in the event of war. The reality of it all was Musolini orchestrated war from the beginning of his madman dictatorship. My Mother would always pray that this would not happen. My Father lost a brother in 1941 when Italy invaded the Balklans, Albania in 1939 and then the ill fated suicidal conquest of Greece. War is not a pretty sight regardless who wins and are there really any winners at the end of it? Nancy you have provided all of us with a detailed recount in the memory of your Brother Giuliano. We should all take a moment for a prayer for all those that defended our country during this terrible period in history.


Anonymous said...

My brother was unique because, although, he seemed uneducated he always seemed to know history. It was his wish that Italy be reunited and his hero was Garibaldi.
He felt that the Italians were always looked down upon and treated like second class citizens especially, during the early part of the 20th century.
He wanted to restore some dignity and appreciation for an ancient people that had been thrown into the dark ages by the fall of the Roman Empire.
Here is an interesting bit of information the original Romans were farmers. So, why should we be ashamed of farming? I was going to write about farming. It requires certain skills and discipline.
I liked the ranch because one was close to the earth and there is a certain bit of honesty in being close to the earth.
Anyway, my brother always considered himself a simple man but I think not. I think that he was deep thinker.
I have given Mussolini some thought. He would not listen to the various Counts etc. about Italy not being prepared for a war. If one were to trace his roots they could possibly be barbarian or from a Germanic tribe. Many invaded Italy after the fall of the Empire.
Anyway, this comment is for the Canadian Furlan.
On a lighter note, I watched Lidia's Italian Kitchen yesterday and they had a segment on Friuli. They took a short camera tour around the countryside. It was quite beautiful and she cooked dishes from Friuli. I cannot remember the name of the cheese but she made these little vegetable patties with the cheese and served it with wine from Friuli. Lidia really raved about the wine so I assume it was quite good. I do not drink, never have, I get horrible headaches from wine so I have to be happy with tea etc.
Oh well!
I will try to write about farming since I am the only one who seems to appreciate it at some future time.

Anonymous said...

For Canadian Furlan:
My brother had already been through 4 or 5 battle campaigns before Okinawa.
As you know my family really resisted Fascist rule in Italy. I don't know whether they were in a region that liked freedom as the French did or whether they were alone in resisting the Fascists but I can tell you that my mother's family, in particular, hated the Fascists. the whole thing was really not good for her mental health but she survived SOMEHOW.
The Italian troops were killed by the Germans in Greece.
Mussolini's thinking was all wrong and he was not dealing with the reality of the situation.
His only good attribute was that he did want to rid Italy of crime which was a good thing.

Jerry M. said...

Great story. Is the name Guiliano or Giuliano?

Anonymous said...

HI Jerry:
The name is Giuliano Quilici.
Giuliano fought three or four other battles before Okinawa. One of the other battles was Tarawa, also the liberation of the Philippines and several other battles.
I have graphic photographs from the war that he left me. It was as horrible as he describes it.
I am glad that you asked about his name because the Armed Services had him listed as Gulio Quilici.
Tarawa is a sad remembrance for those who fought there because the U.S. Government left many of the bodies of the dead there and are still listed as missing in action even though they were buried on the island where they fell.
I hope that the government takes responsiblity and finds those bodies still there and returns them to their families or at the very least sets aside a burial place for them instead of listing them as missing in action. The whole thing seems irresponsible on the part of the government.
Those soldiers gave so much to win. Lets respect them.

Anonymous said...

Kefalonia, Greece
It was on this Greek Island that the massacre of Italian troops took place.
The few that survived were helped by the Greeks and the British.
An injustice still exists because those responsible for this massacre were never adequately punished.
I would also hold the U.S. government responsible because of the Nuremburg Trials. A crime is a crime and should not be excused for whatever reason.
This is more proof of the German mentality that in their mind treachery is the way to success.
Not only did they cause the fall of Empire but centuries later they massacred Italian troops on the island Of Kefalonia.
The Greeks and the Italians honor those killed once a year. There exists a Greco/Italain society I think that is in charge of this remembrance.
If there was any justice at at all it was meted out by the Russians when they marched the German soldiers to Siberia never to be seen again.


Anonymous said...

The legacy of Kefalonia is that from this mixed up murderous event the Italians were left with a reputation for being cowardly and inefficient fighters.
However, those Italians who fought on the side of the United States showed valor, fighting ability, and courage.
There were many Italians in World War 11 who fought for the U.S.
This should be noted.
The cowardly image foisted on those Italian soldiers unfortunate enough to be stationed on Kefalonia during WW11 should be rethought out and not used as an image maker for all Italian soldiers.
Not only were the Italian soldiers massacred by the Germans but their fighting ability reputation was shattered. They were portrayed as hedonistic lovers of wine, music etc. with an aversion to fighting.

Canadian Furlan said...

Nancy Thank you for all the historical information. And as I stated to Ivano, you are keeping your brother Giuliano's memory alive forever with all these recounts of his life and of yours as well. I agree with your comments about Fascism. My parents both were against Fascism but what could one accomplish against a governement that acted like a bunch of thugs threatening and manipulating people. Yes they did away with crime but they were criminals as well with what they did to the Italian population. I know there are a few Italians here in Canada that experienced the good things that the Fascist regime did happen to accomplish. They provided free land to Northern Italians to culitivate in Sourthern Italy. Yes apprently in the mid 1920' to well into the mid 1930's just before WWII the fascist regieme organized a free plot of farming land to all Northerners to move to the South to cultivate and render it productive. Many of these Italians now living here in St. Catharines Ontario, Canada who witnessed this and who were born in the areas of Latzio and Campania from Friulano parents will tell you that at one point Mussolini did something positive for the country. The discipline in the schools was also another area of admiration as well. We can go on and on about Benito.. however in the end of it all the Italians dealt with him in a manner that they were...

Ciao e Mandi

Anonymous said...

This may be of interest.
Fascism was primarily Mussolini's baby. Hitler hijacked Fascism and Mussolini as well with disastrous results.
If there had not been a Hitler perhaps everything would have been different, however, there were still those in opposition, particulary, where my parents were from. It all had to do with freedom of speech and the methods used by the Fascists to instill fear in the people. How can one think clearly if one is full of fear.
Also, the Austrian troops stationed in Kefalonia objected to the massacre of the Italian troops and they were told that if they did not support the orders to massacre the Italians that they could join the Italians and would also be massacred.
There was an article in the Sons of Italy publication that had some very factual and very harsh things to say about Mussolini. The article was historically accurate and it shed light on the fact that Italians were looked upon as weak fighters because the country did not have the money for the war. Did anyone besides me read the article? The article has very SERIOUS implications. That means that Mussolini was sending soldiers on a suicide campaign because they were not properly trained or equipped. If one does not get upset about this there is something wrong. Under the right circumstances they could have been great fighters but that title went to the Germans!
One could once again lay the whole mess on the Germans for hijacking Fascism and the Italians.
Throughout history different countries have had GREAT LEADERS. Greece had Alexander the Great, Rome had Caesar, Russia had Catherine the Great, England had Queen Elizabeth. One could go on, even Muslim countries have had great leaders.
I would say that what Germany needs is a creative, original, (which means not copying any other country), type of leader. This will make them great. A leader who deals only with the welfare of Germany and forgets treachery but only concentrates on the welfare of the people of Germany.
Anyway, as I have said before if people do not see these things I do not have to write because history CANNOT BE rewritten by anyone.
History is there, it happens and as in the case of King Tut in ancient Egypt justice eventually happens. During his time those in power tried to erase all trace of him but his tomb was the only one found centuries later and one of the few to be intact. One of those ironies of history.
I know that there are people who do not believe in God but God has been the invisible driving force for me as I have been so alone since my husband passed away that God has been perhaps the only friend. Perhaps he was also the driving force in the King Tut tomb discovery.
I just have a strong faith.
Who knows?
There were many more military men of Italain descent in WW11 fighting for the U.S. than one can imagine. To name a few, Basilone who won the highest honor, Liccione, Ponza and the list goes on.

Anonymous said...

For Doriano:
I researched the Fascist form of government and the Ancient Roman form of government.
The Roman Empire lasted roughly 1500 years. They had a form of government that was a mix of Republic and Democracy that they got from the Greeks. Because they did not want any one person to be in charge of everything, the Romans had an Executive branch, a Legislative branch and a Judicial branch of government.
If I am not mistaken Caesar was killed because the Senate did not want him to become an Emperor and sole ruler and they feared Cleopatra's influence.
From what I have read I do not think that an autocratic type of government will work and Mussolini did curtail free discussions. This may actually be the cause of his demise. After 1500 years of free discourse and 500 years of oppression and exploitation to once again have a government, the Italians wanted free speech.
Strangely, England has a Roman type of government as does the U. S. I am not so sure that the U. S. version is working. It is horrible that health care is not available to all people and the problem may very well be that it is a capitalist version of the ancient Roman and Greek Republics. The Romans had many Greek engineers and philosphers working with them. Check the countries where the Romans were and you will see fantastic engineering feats, buildings, etc. Libya has them Constantinople has them, England has them, even Germany has them.
As far as I know the Romans after the conquest of a country were not about killing but about including the country into the Empire complete with Aqueducts, Greek engineers, even fighting and racing arenas.
This may be another reason why soldiers of Italian descent have done well in the U.S. military. It is probably very similar to the ancient training ways because of the Democracy factor. On this one I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

I learned something from this.
I always thought that my family's resistance to the Fascists was because of the French influence but NOW I have arrived at the conclusion that it was a Roman characteristic.
Of the four Italians that I am aware of in WW11, Basilone and Liberato Riccio both served in the same arena as my brother. Basilone died a super hero, Liberato Riccio survived to become a spokesman on the Pacific war. My brother, even though, by all standards was a hero never said much and kept to himself. He did leave graphic photographs that speak for themselves.
Ponza is a soldier that my brother knew but I do not know which arena he served in. I know that Ponza is from the central coast and now deceased because my brother when he was alive would visit his burial site.
Kefalonia reminds one of another massacre that occurred during Roman times in Germania. As I recall it was another example of treachery. The Romans had trained the German Officers if you will to lead and fight with the Romans instead the Germans killed the Roman legions as they advanced into Germany. This is HISTORICAL FACT and NOT Nancy's imagination or ill will. Those in Rome mourned for their legions lost in Germany.
In fact, recent archaeological excavations in Germany have produced concrete evidence of this.
This is my last comment on this. Actually, I just wanted to include Liberato Riccio to the list of Italian American soldiers who fought in WW11 and as usual I got side tracked. Riccio became a spokesman for the Pacific war on a small scale.
The following is Nancy's opinion: I think that the Italians wanted a Democratic from of government which is what they were used to for 1500 years. I also think that Mussolini may have prevailed had he not gotten embroiled with Hitler. Hitler by all standards was a super killer and he did not care whom he killed be it German or other. This alliance caused the downfall of Mussolini along with the fact that Italians love to talk and to punish them for talking as they id my grandfather will certainly cause ill feelings.
This is my last comment.