Louis "Lou" Lucidi
(11. 22. 1920 - 8. 21. 1944)
The hot sweet smell of doughnuts into the oven was mixed with a strong taste of the coffe, Lou pervaded with pride have been finish to dress a new uniform. Mamma Teresa and Papa’ Costantino seeing a son go downstairs got distinctly the passionate devotion to the adoptive Country characteristic of Immigrants. During the breakfast nobody spoke, the only one to do was cracling the old Motorola radio was announce the speech of the President Roosvelt to the Nation. After meal Lou clumsy tried to help the mother to tidy up the kitchen then said hello to her kissed on the cheek and opened the door but he turned back unexpectedly to hugg to him deeply the father. That unforeseen pressure took Costantino back to one morning of many years before, in a small Italian country when trembling he greeted Papa’ Luigi and Mamma Giacinta in the small church of Madonna dello Spirito Santo where he went to bless him before to face the long journey to the unknow New World. Shuting the gate Lou observed the little stars and stripes flag that the sister Caroline placed on the fence of their garden, looked at the window where the brother Joseph sleeped and then intrepid covered at a slow pace the sidewalk that divided him to the bus station.
That morning at the faint lights of dawn Tenth Street where I was born appeared unreal like when child after running at breakneck speed his glasses lens clouded up. On the right saw the Church where every Sundays after the Mass he indulged in endless soccer games against the indomitable Irish kids of the close block, a bit further down on the left there was "Gli Store" where uncle Augusto bought for him every kinds of sweets, but the sparklin chromings of his Greyhound that waiting for him took Lou to the reality, showed to the driver the Recruitment’s advice and left Niagara falls for ever. The noise of the tracks was deafening and Lucidi had to repeat shouting twice rank and name introducing himself to the guard of Camp Knox in Kentucky. His Unit was the 743° tank, a battalion insert in the First Division, the "Big Red One",’ till his formation was lead by Colonel John Upham.
In that hot summer of 1942 Camp Knox have animated from the vivacity presence of hundreds young recruits coming from every corners of Americ , different between them, illiterate often. Immediately Upham understood that was essential transform that entusiastic unspecified jouth heat in a close solid sole combat unit. The abilities of Col. Upham were not under discussion and his methods made of endless overhauls to the tanks and unremitting trainings, often reason of resentment from his soldiers, not yet conscious were getting one of the more trained unit of all U.S. army, like they proved afterwards. Later Louis was transfer to Camp Campbell where started the training with the new anphibious Sherman tanks staunch friend of all future European Campaign. His qualification culminated for carefull will of his commander into the Desert Training Center where the stable battalion felt for the first time the dunes of south California prelude of similar scenaries.
In the first months of ’44 after two years of hard work the 743rd Tank was ready for the Europe, to realize such venture were involved all kinds of ships that allowed to move the more impressive and modern deployment of American military forces. Lou and his friends sailed from the cost of United States up an old merchant ship loaded with men and transports, lying on the second class deck close to the engine room Lou closed in the frozen fogs of the ocean imagined his father that was ploughing through that waves years before timorous like him of destiny events. Upham and his tankmen were dectach in a est coast area of Great Britain between villages where the population had to evacuates the homes and huge encampments Nissen type invisible from the sky. Isolated between hills and coastal dunes were unceasing in all secrecy proceeded the last preparations for the D Day. Almost daily Lucidi spended the time to drill obsessivenessy to the underwater escape in emergency case from his amphibius tank DD otherwise attended to prepare, reclutant and cursed in Santostefanese slang, the nauseating mixture of seepages of wather. During the short coming outs Lou and his buddies like to go to London where sometimes have dinner at Mirabelle hotel and then go back in the Devonshire. The colossal steaks that started to came into the traies of the cookhouse insipired the men of 745 to think that something of important was to happen. In fact not long after at the beginning of June skided with the tracks on the paved roads of Devon reached to the gathering centers and shipment to the Norman coast.
The 4th and the 5th of June the tank’s crews passed time packed into the boats. The anxiety and malaise are benning to rise while the tanks engines on burned gasoline for hours to break the strain the soldiers played dice or pray God. Round midnight of 5 June the first convoies went off from the british coasts disappeared from the radar-stations placed in Portland.
The Six of June 1944, the Day of the Days, was worse than expected for the 743rd, that at 6.25am was crowd together with his tanks on around ten LCT boats that both for tides and imposing german fire had a job catching up the ground. The first Shermans fell into an abyss of high salt water carried away by the current on the seabed. Immediately the Colonel Upham arrived with the first wave clanked with his tank, directed radio way the battalion for a safe landing. Disembarked at 8.00am, jumped in the cold water, Upham started to give orders from the dangerous beach, orders that permited to his unit to reach the destination almost uninjured. I was wounded arm in action but refused the first aid to join the soldiers Leveque and Beckett, who left their sherman void of one track. With the right arm hanging down showed them to shelter under the breakwater dunes. The men of 743rd at soon understood to stay quite on the right of the assignationed point at Omaha Beach . The comandant pushed an opentrack-tank to open a way through one of exits of the beach, he succeeded on a thin strip of sand under Point du Hoc, after 16 hours of heavy fighting, eveloped in the dense clouds of smoke daring the flood tide with the second battalion Ranger breaked through the enemy’s line. John Upham died in action in the same day.
The following days at the landing were likewise difficult for Lucido and buddies, in fact the occupation of the front beachs was only a prelude of a bloody war campain in Normandy. The spirit and the ability of 743 were strictly tested against one of the best Panzer nazi unit like the arrogant Panzer division "Lehr" that confronted suffering heavy losses in Vierville and St Pierre du mont districts.
The 18th of August during a break Lucidi wrote like this to the mother telling those day "Dear Mother, today we have received the Presidential Citation, The colonel have done a little speech about the good job done to drive away the nazi again flat on back. Now we are taking a little rest, nothing to say now excepting my love for the family, with love, Lou." In the same day an article spreaded on "Star and Stripes" related the heroism of the 375 tank battalion in the Overlord operation. But only two months later the liberation campain was greatly delayed be against all expecations because of the difficulties of the french Bocage and for the dogged resistance of the last decimate german units. The situation taked a turn for the worse... Then Allied Forces decide to hold the enemy in check at nord of Orleans create a bridge head at Sens that let to close the passage in the Falaise’s depression where were concetrated the last exhausted german troops after the fall of Caen. Harsh and violent clashs continued for a week drastically cutted down the number of the Sherman for the 743rd at only 13 units. The 21th of August when at the last Falaise depression was close so finally divided the german army, Lou died. The United States Army leaved the ruins of Saint Lambert, Coudehard,Chambois and Trun , the ghostly passage of Falaise behind one finally. A month later, the 25th of August Paris was liberated.
Louis continue to live in the heart of who loved him and never forgotten infact the sister Caroline named her sons after his uncle: Therese Lou, Lynda Lou, Louis Joseph, Dawn Lou and the brother Joseph named his daugthter Therese Lou, the last brother Stanley will name the son, Louis.
Louis Lucidi was born the 22th of November 1920 in Niagara Falls (New York), his father was Costantino Lucidi and the mother Teresa Calandra, lived at 2612 Tenth Street, enlisted the 13th of August 1942, was killed in action the 21 August of 1944 at 23 years old near Falaise in France. Awarded with the Purple Heart. The father Costantino was born in Villa Santo Stefano (Frosinone) in Italy, arrived in United States the 10th of March 1917 at 17 years old boarded on the ship "S.Anna" coming from Naples.
Sometimes in Normandy at dawn rises irritating sea breeze that loves to play between the white gravestones of Saint Laurent sur Mer Cemetery so inventing a gentle confusion in that mute Army of pawns of a game of chess played and won, in the Row 20, Grave 34 lies Lou, close to him, a little further down, keep him company the Niland Brothers, Preston and Robert, "those" of "Saving Private Ryan".
Extracts | Panarda | Tower | Cegneraro | S.Maria | P.za del Mercato | P.za Umberto I | La Portella | San Giovanni | Campodoglio | San Pietro | S.Maria della Stella | The Districts | S.Sebastiano | Il Palazzo del Marchese | Cardinal Domenico Iorio | The Fighting Paesan | Alfonso Felici, the extraordinary history of a any man | American Legion in Italy, may 2005 | Louis "Lou" Lucido