Archived Story

Report from Italy campaign tells the story

Published 9:57am Monday, November 11, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

It is Veterans Day 2013.

Take a veteran to lunch. Buy a veteran coffee. Do an anonymous kind deed for a veteran. If you know someone who is serving and away from home, support their family any way you can. It might be a kind word; it might be helping with the kids or maybe helping with the house repair. Support our veterans.

I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could say about Veterans Day that I haven’t said before. I wondered whether there was a new way to bring light to those who serve our country.

I decided there doesn’t have to be a new way to spin a tale to highlight Veterans Day and those who sacrifice so much for our country so that we can live the way we live today. Every day should be Veterans Day. Every day we should be saying thank you to these brave men and women.

I had many relatives on my dad’s side of the family who served in the wars. I happened to be looking back at some family history and found this story about Cpl. Melvin Young.

This man was my dad’s nephew. He was a son, a husband, a father and, according to the article, he took part in engineer work in Italy with the Fifth Army in World War II. I am not sure what newspaper it was published in or the date. This is the article:

“Cpl. Melvin J. Young, whose wife, Ruby, lives here, is a heavy truck driver with the 316th Engineer Combat Battalion of the Fifth Army, which has been running into direct German resistance as it carves out a route of advance for Fifth Army troops fighting toward Italy’s Po Valley.

“Jerry machine gun fire was turned on the engineers as they filled a huge crater recently on Highway 65, leading into Bologna, to enable tanks to advance. The men of the 316th finished the job and fought their way out.

“They spent a night building a road in advance of infantry outposts near Futa Pass to enable doughboys to keep supplied with food and ammunition. The enemy concentrated artillery and mortar fire on them in a vain attempt to discourage this work. The engineers have often filled in or built bypasses around craters on Highway 65 under German observation. They poured 75 truckloads of filling in to one depression in the road north of Pietramala and went on ahead of the infantry at Monghidoro and Loiano to remove mines from the doughboys’ path. They were in the vanguard again in the bitter fights for Livergnano and more recently have been patrolling well in advance of the foremost infantry outposts.

“The 316th, a unit of the 91st Powder River’ Division, arrived in North Africa in April 1944 and later landed in Italy two months later. Company A went into action at Velletri to cut trails and develop river fords for doughboys moving on Rome. The rest of the outfit entered the line in July. Company C blazed the trail into Leghorn while the rest of the battalion cleared mines in the neighborhood of Pontedera along the Arno River.

“The entire outfit was busy brushing aside the widest variety of obstacles as the 91st pushed into the Gothic Line at Futa Pass.

“Lt. Col. William C. Holley, Klamath Falls, Ore., commands the 316th.

“Melvin Young lived in Freeborn with his wife, Ruby, and their two sons Gary and Robert.”

As we celebrate Veterans Day we need to remember those who fought in the past and those who are still fighting for our freedom. News stories are very different today than the story reported during World War II.

During World War II we didn’t have 24/7 news. It took weeks to get letters from those who served overseas. Communication was not like it is today. I suspect during that war people did not take what those soldiers were doing overseas for granted. It held the news and the headlines.

We have a tendency to take the news of what is happening with our soldiers today and put it to the background of whatever else is happening in the entertainment world, with technology and more frivolous things. The news of a soldier dying today occasionally gets lost in all the hoopla of the latest scandal of an athlete or famous person and the fighting going on in our own Congress.

For this day, let us pay attention to what is happening in the world of those who serve our country. Pay attention to the wounds that come home with these men and women and stay with them forever.

Be there for a soldier. And remember those whose names are on the veterans memorials throughout our country. They served so you can have the freedoms you have today.

 

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net. Her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/sprinklednotes.