Friday, 28 December 2012 00:00
Editor’s note: The following is an essay submitted by Anthony Molligo about his father, Anthony Molligo. This is part of a series of essays, which were submitted by our readership for the Anton Newspapers Military Heroes Essay Contest with the American Airpower Museum of East Farmingdale and The Collings Foundation. Essay winners recently flew in historic aircraft stationed at the American Airpower Museum.
My dad, Anthony Molligo, like the 1.7 million World War II veterans still alive today, rarely, if ever, speaks of his service during WWII. The few snippets he shares usually occur when we are watching old WWII movies together and he would open up and tell me “how things really were.”
Growing up in the 1960s, I never really gave a second thought to my father’s naval service during the war. He, after all, was just a machinist mate 3rd class, serving on a less than mighty troop transport ship—an LCI—Landing Craft/Infantry. He never spoke in detail about those times.
The only wartime mementos he kept are his blue crackerjack uniform and old sea bag. When I asked him what he did with his other equipment, he told me he gave them away when he returned home. He never even bothered to send for the medals that were awarded to him for his service in Europe and the Pacific.
As I got older, and wiser, I wanted to know more about my dad, who is a first-generation American, born to Italian immigrants. What I have discovered was a newfound respect for the man and how brave he was.
In 1943, at age 18, my dad was drafted into the Navy. That winter, he was dispatched to Navy boot camp in upstate New York to learn, among other things, how to operate and repair ships’ engines. During that period of training, he didn’t know when or where he would be assigned for combat duty (at age 18, I was a college student and my biggest worry was what freshman English class to take.)
He eventually was given orders to serve aboard the USS LCI-530, a sea-going amphibious assault ship used to land infantry troops onto beaches. His first tour took him to Tunisia, where his ship supported the U.S. Army ground forces in Northern Africa. He also took part in operations landing troops in Italy.
In the early morning of June 6, 1944, his ship, carrying a contingent of U.S. soldiers, departed Dartmouth, England, for the beaches of Normandy, France. Moving slowly and silently, LCI-530 joined hundreds of other Navy ships in the English Channel.
Though my dad was not on the beaches of Normandy during the initial assault, he saw and heard horrific images of war on that morning. Troop transports near his ship were sunk and German artillery shells burst all around as the 530 crew-assisted soldiers onto landing craft for the invasion. During that longest day, his ship remained on station supplying blankets and plasma for the injured soldiers on the beaches. The horror of D-Day echoed all around him.
A hero is a man who does what he can. My dad is a hero not for the landings in which he took part, the medals he won, or the inhumanity of war he witnessed. He is a hero because he served his country, during those terrifying times, with honor and dignity.
“Bravo Zulu” to dad and the crew of USS LCI-530.