|Company E of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. My dad sits in the second row from the front, sixth in from the left.|
My next, unbelievable adventure takes us to the American occupation of Berlin at the end of World War 2. My father's 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion had been almost entirely decimated in the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge. The 551st PIB had so few remaining soldiers that it no longer existed. The surviving paratroopers, which included my father, were absorbed into other units. My father ended up in Co.E of the 504th PIR. He was still (and would always be) a paratrooper. It was here, in the 504th, that my father found a home for his love of music. The 504th had a regimental band called, The Jumpmasters and he became one of their guitarists.
Before the war, my father worked odd jobs, but he always identified himself as a musician. His discharge papers stated his occupation before the war as, "musician" and his scrapbook is filled with photographs of him playing rhythm guitar in one band or another. It was the age of Big Bands. His boot camp photos include one of him with a guitar. Even in the 551st PIB, he managed to find a guitar and an occasion to play it. Gregory Orfalea in his book, "Messengers of the Lost Battalion", mentions my father playing guitar to entertain some Scottish troops. One of my father's buddies from the 551st, Marcel Charette, told me he recalled seeing my father marching with his rifle over one shoulder and his guitar over another. I have no doubt that my father's music helped keep him grounded and sane in the midst of a horrific war.
|From my father's scrapbook. Charles Giacomino on guitar|
|From my father's scrapbook: Some of the band members including "O'Buckley" (Donal O'Buckley) on bass.|
|From Mr. van Lunteren- There's my dad on the far right, in the back!|
|Again- from my dad's scrapbook|
|From Mr. van Lunteren- The Jumpmasters. My dad is on the bottom, right!|
... to be continued.