|Basic Training, Camp Blanding, FL 1943|
|Emil and Rita participating in the POW Daisy Drive, 1998|
|Last Name: `
|Street: 132 CHESTNUT ST||City & State: E LONGMEADOW, MA||E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Zip: 01028||Phone: (413) 525-2450||Spouse: RITA M|
|Conflict: Normandy||Service Branch: ARMY||Unit: 30 DIV, 117th INF, Co. A|
|Theater: ETO||Where Captured: Mortain, France||Date Captured: 08/07/44|
|Camps Held In: Stalag VIIB||How Long Interned: 263 days|
|liberated / repatriated: liberated||Date Liberated: 04/27/45||Age at Capture: 25|
|Medals Received: American Ex-Prisoner of War Medal, Army Occupation Medal, Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Marksman Medal (30 Cal. Heavy Machine Gun), Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign (3 Battle Stars), Good Conduct Medal, Honorable Service Medal WWII, Marksman Medal (M1 Rifle Carbine Pistol), Normandy Freedom Jubilee Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, World War II Victory Medal,|
|Military Job: Army Machine Gunner||Company: Van Norman Machine Tool, Springfield, MA|
|Occupation after War: Machine Tool Supervisor, Auxilliary Police|
Emil Raimondi entered the army in 1943, trained at Camp Blanding, Florida and the American Armour School in Swindon, England. He landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day+6 and was assigned to the 30th Division, 117th Infantry, A Company as a replacement in the heavy weapons section. After heavy fighting with the Germans, the 30th was able to secure the town of St. Lo and proceeded on through France to Mortain to relieve the 1st Division. German strafing and heavy tank movement forced the soldiers to use most of their munitions. With low ammunition and food supplies and a large concentration of German soldiers in front of them, the platoon was finally forced to surrender on August 7, 1944.
For three months, Emil and approximately 75 other prisoners were confined to a German box car and were taken from Paris to Stalag VIIB in Memmingen, Germany. Very little food, cramped conditions and no toilet facilities were a way of life in these boxcars. In October 1944, the prisoners were moved to Augsburg, Germany to become part of Arbites Kommando #663B, a workcamp where they made shingles for bombed out German buildings. Emil remained in this camp until April 27, 1945 when he was liberated by Patton's troops. Because the work camp was not registered with the U.S. Army Air Corps, it was bombed often. Barracks were lost but there were no POW fatalities.
During his 6 months of captivity, Emil and the other POWs in his camp received humane treatment from one of the German guards, Otto. He would follow the directions of his superiors but never over-emphasized his position with the POWs. He would often bring them bread and food from the local farmers and the POWs would trade their cigarettes and chocolate for these items. On April 24, 1945 Emil and the other POWs in his camp were moved as the Americans closed in on the area and the Germans were forced into hasty retreat. Several of the POWs convinced the German guard, Otto to remain with them and surrender to the Americans. They, in turn, wrote a letter for him reassuring the Americans that they had not been mistreated by him.
Emil was liberated on April 27, 1945, returned to the United States and went back to work for Van Norman Machine Tool Company where he had worked prior to the war. He also served as an Auxiliary Policeman for the town of East Longmeadow, MA. where he has lived for most of his life.
Emil and his wife, Rita have three children: Patricia, Richard and William, 5 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. They are life members of the AX-POWs actively participating in many POW-MIA activities. Emil is a life member of the DAV, the 30th Division Association and the 30th Division, North East Chapter. They regularly volunteer for the ex-POWs in Western Massachusetts and have been instrumental in establishing several memorials in local cities to honor the POW-MIA veterans in that area. Emil served as Commander of the Western Massachusetts Chapter from 1985-86, 1987-88, and 1997-1998. Rita is the chapter historian. He also served as the Massachusetts State Commander from 1990-1991. Their volunteer activities include the VA Medical Center in Northampton, MA. and the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, MA.
|My Message to Future Generations:
It is important for the young people today to study about our country's history, especially the wars that we have been involved in and the horrors that resulted from these wars. Love of neighbor is certainly a commandment that is ignored when countries and people are engaged in war. Children need to remember that a world of peace and harmony is a lot better place to live in and, that it takes sacrifice on the part of everyone, to restrain from war and the destruction that it brings. Love is a powerful word and needs to be expressed more often in our daily lives.
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