Master Sergeant Louis C. Graziano
HQ, Special Troops HQ, Command HQ, OISE Section Com Z HQ Company, 102nd Field Artillery Battalion
Service: Entered Active Service – 22nd of January 1943 at Fort Niagara New York Honorably Discharged – 3rd of January 1946 at Fort Dix New Jersey
Service Branch: U.S. Army – Master Sergeant – Headquarters, Special Troops Headquarters, Command Headquarters, OISE Section Com Z during wartime.
At discharge, Headquarters Company, 102nd Field Artillery Battalion
Military Awards: The Army Good Conduct Medal, The European African Middle East Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Campaign Stars for Northern France and Rhineland and the World War II Victory Medal, and Qualified as a Rifle Sharpshooter. Louis also received a Certificate of Merit for achievements as Utilities Foreman.
Personal History: Louis was born on the 6th of February 1923 in East Aurora New York.
History: Master Sergeant Louis C. Graziano earned his 2 Campaign Battle Stars leading a platoon of communications specialists tasked to assure reliable means of command and control for the highest of command personnel.
Overseeing 35 men, Louis supervised their work in plumbing, carpentry, electrical, masonry, road building, and basic construction work.
However, on June 6th, 1944, D-Day, survival was the order of the day as Louis, aboard an LST with his men, landed upon the sands of Omaha Beach near the St. Laurent-Vierville exit, Normandy France. Once beached, Louis drove a truck full of gasoline onto the sand. With no place to go, he abandoned the vehicle and gathered his weapons to get into the fight. With another man he took up a position at the base of a cliff and fired a burst from a flame thrower to take out a German machinegun nest. Further up the cliff yet out of range were even more enemy machinegun nests. In quick thinking, Louis took a flare gun and fired a flare into those positions hoping to direct the fire of allied ships cruising just off the beach. The gun crews on the ships responded as hoped, unleashing their fire from larger caliber guns destroying those positions beyond.
Advancing beyond the shores of Normandy, the French City of St Lo was then liberated and then, in time, the City of Reims. It was here in Reims that Louis’s skill in his craft would come into play and eventually afford him a seat to history itself.
Upon establishment of a command post within the heavily mined city, Louis was ordered by General Thrasher to install General Eisenhower’s phone line. This particular phone line was vital, not only for the General’s real time communication, but installing it, helped speed a more timely allied victory.
As winter approached the Germans had mounted a last ditch counteroffensive which developed into what has become known as the “Battle of the Bulge”. In response, all troops were being mustered to come to the rescue of encircled troops near the Belgian town of Bastogne. In a very dangerous mission along with his Captain, Louis set off in a Jeep to find an element of the 3rd Armored Division to aid in the effort to relieve the surrounded soldiers.
After suffering frostbite during the successful effort to search and find the lost armored element, Louis returned to Reims to recover. Among the buildings in Reams there was a “Little Red Schoolhouse” where General Eisenhower had his headquarters. It was here that the unconditional surrender of Germany was signed in the early morning hours of Monday, May 7, 1945. Louis was there, in the room, as General Yodl of the German Army signed the articles of surrender. U.S. General Walter Bedell Smith signed on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, General Eisenhower, and General Ivan Susloparov on behalf of the Soviet High Command. French Major-General François Sevez signed as the official witness.
It is most likely that Louis is the last surviving witness to this historic event…