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A Special Life Remembered

       Of course, at that time no one could have possibly imagined eighteen years in the future, this new baby boy, would be a member of the "The Red Devils" of world famous 82nd Airborne Division, or that he would be one of the ninety troopers who answered the call when volunteers were needed to make that "first time" in history, jump from a glider and to become one of the very first soldiers in history to jump from a plane, deep behind enemy lines, ready for battle upon touch down.
       I learned from Charles Strong, General Eisenhower himself was on hand the night before that first history making jump into Normandy, gave a big speech (to get the troopers pumped up) on the history they would be making. But the troopers were not too impressed as they had been well trained and knew they wouldn't be going to "no" dance.
       Louie was a boy of seventeen when he left for army training at Camp Roberts, California. From there his training took him to Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina and Panama. The Louie who came home on furlough in September 1943 was no longer the kid who had left the farm.
       It was hard to believe this six-foot - 2 inch, 180 pound soldier wearing the wings and boots of a United States paratrooper was "our Louie." More training overseas followed in Northern Ireland from January 8, 1944 until March 11, 1944.|
       On April 3rd of this year, I learned the men in I Company referred to him as the gentle giant, due to his size, temperament and wonderful disposition. "He was easy going, slow to lose his temper but when he did, he was a one-man tornado," wrote Bob Chisolm to Zig Boroughs.
       Recalling our last moments with him, gentle giant that he was! His furlough had come to an end. He, our mother, sister Kathryn, I, and baby Janice, climbed into the family's 1936 Plymouth for the trip to the bus station. He was driving and he purposely parked the car uptown on North D Street, in from of the Montgomery Ward store, several blocks away, as he wanted no goodbyes at the station.
       For a time we sat quietly, each with our own thoughts, dreading that last goodbye. Soon it was his time to leave. This gentle giant scooped up baby Janice in his huge hands and ever so gently and lovingly held her to his cheek for one last time as he said, "bye-bye, baby." Our mother started to cry, in soft-spoken Italian he said, "Ma, non piange" (Ma, don't cry). My sister and I walked to the corner of D and Yosemite with him, a final good-bye was said, he turned the corner onto Yosemite and walked on alone, in that now known famous walk of all paratroopers.


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