Louis Graziano

US Army, Master Sergeant, 3rd wave onto Omaha beach

Few words that are sufficient to adequately describe the story of Mr Louis Graziano. It is hard to put perspective to the experiences and perils endured. From a stormy Atlantic crossing with his ship nearly capsizing to the terror of V-1 bombs in London. From the D-day carnage on Omaha beach to the momentous event of the German surrender.

Facilitated by Kim Evans, his daughter, Mr Graziano honored The Log Book with his signature on 7 December 2019. Adding immense gravitas to the project we are honored to be entrusted to carry your story Sir.

Louis Graziano signing The Log Book
Mr Louis Graziano signing The Log Book.

Deployment

Mr Louis Graziano joined the US Army in January 1943. After months of training he made the Atlantic crossing to UK on Queen Mary with 16 thousand other troops. He describes in his memoirs a major storm 700 miles from the coast of Scotland. The ship is hit by a massive wave that later estimated to have been over 90 foot high. The wave made the Queen Mary roll some 52 degrees only narrowly avoiding to capsize. Safely ashore in England he boarded a train, bound for Camp Weston where he was put in Headquarters OISE Section Command-Z (APO 513).

Combat training continued at Camp Weston in UK for several weeks. One day a General came in and asked Graziano to go to London on a special mission for the army. Orders included strict instructions not to tell anyone what he had to do. Mr Graziano have still to this day never revealed the contents of the classified mission to anyone. The mission to London lasted about 6 weeks. Here he will, as another Log Book signer Les Grafton, experience the terror and effects of V1 and V2 bombs.

“Mayor of Tent City”

Louis Graziano - Mayor of Tent city.
Mayor of Tent City – Louis Graziano
Source: Graziano family collection, with permission.

Back from London he was was made Utilities-NCO Sergeant overseeing thirty-five men. He supervised them in plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, road building and construction work. At the time they had large amounts of troops coming in to get ready for the invasion. In addition to the Nissen huts already built they have to erect some forty tents. This earned Mr Graziano the nickname “Mayor of Tent City”.

His next assignment was to travel 700 miles south. Here he would board the ships that would take them across the channel for the invasion. It took three full days to before all the ships were loaded. Graziano had driven his tanker full of gasoline onto the Landing Ship, Tank (LST).

Louis Graziano on LSTs
Trucks loaded on a landing craft.
Source: Graziano family collection, with permission.

D-day, Omaha Beach

Onboard the LST he has no idea he will be landing in the 3rd wave on Omaha Beach. Driving his Gasoline truck off the LST he and his fellow comrades realized the German defense was fierce. Facing machine gun fire they find that there is no where to hide on the beach. Quickly they get out of their vehicles and take cover on the ground. They hide among dead soldiers before making it to the, at best, limited safety of the cliff. This while German troops shoots down at them from a cliff side bunker above.

Reaching the cliff Graziano got a flamethrower and shot up underneath the bunker. Setting fire to the grass and brush it creates a fire big enough to force the Germans out of the bunker.

Louis Graziano
Lous Graziano to the right.
Source: Graziano family collection, with permission.

Hedgerows and frostbite

Mr Graziano will also experience combat through the hedgerows of Saint-Lô. Later suffering severe frost bite during the Battle of the Bulge while out on a quest spanning several days. In an unheated Jeep he attempts to locate a company of Gen Patton’s troops who were needed in Bastogne. Somehow they had gotten lost and needed to be found. By the end of the mission Graziano’s feet are severely frostbitten. Spending the next three weeks in the infirmary avoided amputation by the smallest of margins.

German surrender

In France his unit sets up Special Headquarters Command in Reims. He will be charged with keeping all of the buildings occupied by Americans in working order. Among the structures that Graziano is in charge of is the Little Red Schoolhouse. Here he will later witness the momentous historic occasion of Germany’s unconditional surrender in Europe. Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, German General Jodl, and Russian General Susloparov signs the German Instrument of Surrender at General Eisenhower’s Headquarters on 7 May 1945.

General Jodl signing the German surrender.
General Jodl signing the German surrender.

“I was honored. It was a great pleasure to be there. I felt sorry for all the men we had lost that helped us accomplish that.”

Louis Graizano, present at the German surrender in Reims, on the monumental moment in history.

On the Facebook page dedicated to Louis Graziano and his published book “A Patriot’s Memoirs of World War II” the below image is posted -from the VE Parade in Reims May 8th, 1945 with Louis Graziano second from the right.

Louis Graziano - victory parade in Reims.
VE Parade in Reims on May8yh, 1945 – Louis Graziano second from right.
Source: Graziano family collection, with permission.

Hear Mr Graziano tell his story with his own words below.

Facilitated by his daughter Kim Evans, Graziano graciously signed the Log Book on 7 December 2019 in Thomson, GA – the 78th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Mr Graziano with Mary Byrne (Nick Devaux sister)

Also present to witness the signing of The Log Book was Nick Devaux’s sister Mary and her husband Chris as well as Nick’s other brother in law John Day.

Thank you for the honor of carrying your story Sir.

Last Updated on 13 July 2021 by Lars McKie

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