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Carl Cossin Army

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Assigned: 1st Airborne Command Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, 85th Regiment, 24th & 25th Infrantry Division
Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
Entered Service: 11/1/1942
Exited Service: 8/23/1953
Foreign Service Length: 3 Years, 8 Months
Continental Service Length: 4 Years, 4 Months
Location of Service: Italy, Japan Occupation, Korean War
Gender: male
Basic Training: Fort Benning, Georgia; Camp Hale, Colorado
Military Position: Scout, Assistant Squad Leader
Place of Separation: Camp Sheraton, Illinois World War 2.
From City: Evans
From State: West Virginia
Current City: Columbus
Current State: Ohio
Date of Birth: 05/1922
My War Stories
  
  10/1/1942 Carl Cossin was drafted into the Army before he was 17 and was unable to finish high school.
  11/1/1942 I went to Columbus, Ohio to report for the draft but since Columbus was overflowing, they had to send him to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. I got there and they showed a movie picture of this is how small paratroops were. Okay, I was so impressed by this parachute battalion show that I signed up for paratroops. Well, I was in good physical shape and everything, so they sent me to Fort Benning, Georgia and I went through my parachute training down there. Now, when you go through parachute training, I was the first group. Now, they started companies they started companies that started from A to K Company. I was in K Company, the very last company in the line that went over the hill, down to where Lawson Field was very close, just a hill between us Lawson Field and the hangers. So we went to a place they called Harmony Church or The Sands. That's the main post of Fort Benning, Georgia and there was an old wood structure there, or barracks and it was so sandy. The floors was just where you walk in sand and walk in on them old floors and stuff. I don't know. I hated it out there because when you stepped that sand, you know, would shift under your feet, you know, and your ankles would twist like that, you know. The sand would be about this deep, you know, just all over. They called it The Sands, and I was glad to get out of that and get into what they called the K Company, I was put into. Away from The Sands down there, it wasn't sandy terrain, it was more of a red clay type of terrain, the ground was.
  12/1/1942 Basic training lasts a month. You had A Stage, B Stage, C Stage, and D Stage. D Stage was your exercise, runs and your go to shape down, bend and get your chute and get ready to line up to go out to jump. So you done your jumps in your D Stage. Your A Stage was mostly exercise. Oh mercy, them was some of the most miserable exercise you ever saw. And the instructor would come around and sort of had a psychological affect on you, and he would say, "You're sorry you wore that ring on your left finger. That left arm is hurting awful bad." And you get to thinking about that, you know, and, oh, your arm would just be aching something terrible, you know, and doing them. And then they would say, "Unbutton your collar. Get ready for a run." And then they would take us for a run. Sometimes we'd make a nine mile run around this Lawson Field, go around that thing and come back. And we'd make a run and come back and we had to climb a 30 foot rope up and they'd give you well, first you'd get a break now, after you made the run. They'd give you a handful of salt tablets, because when it's hot, you know, you had to have salt before you drank your water. So we'd take salt tablets and we'd drink a lot of water. And then you'd get about a ten or fifteen minute break and you had to go in then and climb a rope, a 30 foot rope. Well, to climb a rope is pretty easy, it's just hand over hand, you know. You let it slide between your feet, you know. You got one foot toe hooked under the rope and one is it's going through the instep of your left foot, you know, and your right foot is hooked under the rope, you know. And then I saw guys fall out. I saw instructors come up and kick men in the center. I saw them grab their shoulders like that and shake them real hard.
  12/2/1942 Now instructors can lay hands on you. They was the first group that jumped just ahead of us now. They was we were the first group of paratroopers, the regular paratroopers, but the instructors, there was some of them from Canada and the United States, and those guys were stunt jumpers and wing walkers and those kind of folks. They would fight each other. Our group was going along. They had you broke down into sections, you understand, and we were moving along, marching to our next assignment. We're passing the company, meeting us head on like that, and their leader give them "eyes left" and had them look at us and said, "Look at the WAC's." Called us all WAC's. Our instructor said, "Halt that squad there." And he gave our squad "halt." And he went walking back to that sergeant. And he said, "I think you owe my men an apology." And the sergeant says, "I don't owe nobody an apology." And, buddy, they went into it. Oh, you talk about a fist fight. Them two fought. But don't you think them instructors wouldn't fight at the drop of a hat, buddy. Those dudes would get it on. So one called the other one an SOB and he said, "Well, it's your fault." Well, one that guy said, "Hey, Sarge, I don't have to take SOB, do I?" He said, "We can duke it out, can't we?" Sarge said, "Yeah, Yeah. Go ahead and settle it. Go on." And they called everybody. "Hey, bring your companies in," they hollered to the other instructors. And they all brought them in from all four tires, brought their men in. And they formed a big circle. And then them two got it on. And buddy, they was evenly matched. And you talk about some fighting, now they done some fighting. Well, they finally broke it up after they let them fight for a good bit, you know. And they both stayed on their feet, too.
  12/15/1942 So next, three or four days later, up come our lieutenant. Well, they call him Flash Gordon because they had a series in the movies called Flash Gordon. A big blond headed guy with a lot of muscle and everything. Well, here comes Flash Gordon out in his Jeep. And it's nothing but sawdust and well, about six inches of sawdust on the ground, and there was acres of level ground there. So he just brings his Jeep out about 15 miles an hour, and he just turns the key off and he steps out, throws his feet like that, and he leans backwards like that, almost like he's sitting in his seat, and his feet hit, and then he come to a standing position and the Jeep went rolling on. He said, "Bring a man down, bring a man." And they brought everybody in and assembled them. And he said, "Now assemble them." And they brought them in and assembled them. And he said, "All right." He asked one of the major sergeants there, he said, "How are they doing?" "Well," he said, "they're not doing too well." He said, "We had a couple of them out here fighting yesterday." And he said, "They pawed around at each other like a couple of old women." He said, "They're not showing too much promise." I thought, "Man, this is one of the roughest fights that I ever saw." But these guys would fight. And they would do the same they would go into Columbus, Georgia, and they would go towards the Phoenix City area. They would be going down through there and there would be armored guys fighting with the paratroopers. You'd see a couple of paratroopers a paratrooper and armored guy fighting here, go on down about 20 feet 20, 30 feet, and there's another fight over there. Across the street over here, there would be a different fight, different fights. Hey, the police there wouldn't take them to jail or anything. "All right boys, you had your fun. Let's break it up. Break it up.
  1/1943 Then they held us over once I completed basic instead of going to war because they needed people to train the next group since we were the first parachute group. Now, they held some guys over with that riggers that I am telling you about. They had some guys who would come in to teach communication. They had some well, I'm not going to go into the all the training, but they had different guys. They had one that was demolition. Now they would show you the demolition people would come there and try to get you to join up with them. The communication people would try to get you to join their radios and stuff, you know. And they would show Japanese talking in Japanese uniforms talking, and you were interfering and listening to their talking, and you're talking to your own people, you know, in English. And some would be speaking in German, and different people in communication like that. Well, then your demolition, they did rip cord jump. They would jump three hundred feet from the ground, that low. So they would come in and they would have a mock house. The mock house would be a cardboard house and they would blow it up. Oh they'd come in real fast and boy they hit the ground, you know. And do their tumble. They wouldn't let you do a standing jump. When you landed, you landed on your sort of on your tiptoes, and you let your knees bend, you would let your right shoulder hit the ground, and your right hip, and you do a roll to take the shock off your body, but they wouldn't let you stand and land flat footed. They were afraid you would break your leg, you know. So all jumps were supposed to be but as soon as those guys with the demolition would jump, they would blow that building. And that big building would go to smithereens, and oh, I was gung ho. I was like, "I want to go on that."
  2/1943 I was going to sign up for demolition, but there was too many signed up for it, and I had to stay with the company. So if you stayed with the company, they processed other companies through you. Now, you didn't come with your rifle or anything. Everybody was trained without weapons. They sent as soon as the group once a month a group would pass through us, and they would send them to England, and then they would form like 511 and different outfits over there, you know. They would form them and they would arm them. So we wasn't armed in the paratroops stateside at that early training like that.
  2/1943 We would to take a new bunch of paratroopers that would sign up and come in from different outfits, and they'd come into our group, and we would have to feed them. We'd have to take them out and give them their morning exercises. We'd have to give them retreat parades, you know, and stuff like that. But we'd have to bring them out on the field and the instructors would come and get them every day and take them out for their regular training. And then they'd bring them back at nighttime and we'd have to go out there and do head counts and stuff and put them back. Then we'd have the feed them in the dining room. We'd have to supply give them supplies jumpsuits and jump boots and things from our supply room. So we had to supply them and stuff like that. So that's what a cavalry does. Well, I got to thinking. My friend's coming back from overseas, as we called it, because if they're out of the continental limits of the United States, they're overseas. So when they would be coming home, some of them had been wounded, and one or two had been killed that we knew, or I knew, so I was gung ho. I wanted everybody wanted to go overseas. After Pearl Harbor, everybody all your soldiers were so gung ho to go overseas. I don't want to stay stateside with this blankety blank cavalry. I wanted to go overseas with the rest of the people, you know. And I wanted to go overseas with the guys to England, you know, not stay stateside, you understand. But they made me stay stateside, you know. Not that I had done anything wrong. I was just qualified to stay stateside to or they just needed me in the company at that particular time. So I had to stay there for six months. And then I signed up for the 10th Mountain because it was hot and it's going to go overseas, so I wanted out of the paratroopers, back to them not back to them, but to the 10th Mountain.
  6/1943 10th Mountain was located at Camp Hale, Colorado. Now Hale, you have to think of Camp Hale and Vail was just a canyon in between. The closest place to Camp Hale was Pando, Colorado. Pando was right at the entrance of Colorado. Minot Dole, Charles Minot Dole went to President Roosevelt and our Chief of Staff Marshall in Washington, and he told them well, he made a couple of trips up there before Marshall was there. And then about the third trip each time he was trying to get them to form a mountain troop. He had a ski patrol, Minot Dole did. He told them, he said when Marshall was there, he convinced Marshall he said, "If we're ever attacked," he said, "they'll do like the British." He said, "They'll come up the St. Lawrence River." And he said, "They'll cross the Champagne Valley in New York and if they get into our Adirondack Mountains, we're not going to have no cold weather forces to go in there and take them out, because all of our forces are trained in warm southern Army camps." And he said, "Most of your war up to this point has been fought in cold weather." And he said, "Look how effective the little Finns is against the Russians." The little Finns would find the Russians out there. They would be about four or five companies or battalions of Russians and they would catch them and they would ski up on them real fast and ambush them and just slaughter the Russians. Get them so unexpected and then ski away. So they would do that and it was very effective to do it that way. Well, Marshall decided they would have it. So they Camp Hale Colorado was 14,000 feet above sea level, you know, pristine mountains suitable for rock climbing and skiing.
  6/1943 Lowell Thomas from Proctor, Colorado was a news commentator. In those days in your movie theaters, they would always show a newsreel along they would have the intermission. And they would show what the next features was going to be, and then they would have a 15 minutes newsreel. Well, when he'd get on to this newsreel, and he would his jargon would be like this, he said he put your 10th Mountain guys in their white peasant clothes like you saw up there. The guy had on his arm, he had white trousers that were folded up on his arm. He had wool fur. He had a white parka, light parka with wool fur around the face part of it, and he had white leggings on they called gators. They're not as long as regular leggings. So that's the way you dressed in white. Now, had he them all dressed up in those white clothes. He'd have them going at a very rapid rate of speed on these crooked mountain roads, you know. And then he would have them they would take these curves, you know, at a very rapid rate of speed. So he would say it like this. He would say, in this newsreel, he'd say, "Here comes men of your 10th Mountain Division. Watch them come streaking like comets. Watch them take them curves. 70 and 80 miles an hour. Oh, look look at them bush whacking through them trees. Look at them bush whacking and stunt jumping. One little mistake out there and they're going to mess up the scenery. That's the men of your 10th Mountain."
  6/1943 Well, he would say it like that and hey, that caught the attention of guys like Peter Gabriel, a Swiss mountain guy. He came over. One of the ski greats, you know. Big in the Olympics in those days. We didn't have any Olympic heroes in that day. Out come another guy, Paul Petzoldt. Paul Petzoldt was an Austrian wilderness guide, and he come he come to us. Paul Petzoldt was the highest climber in the world at the time. He had scaled K 2, and that was the highest mountain that had ever been scaled. And so he was another guy come to us was Hans Schneider. Hans Schneider was also from Austria, come over to us. Hans was famous with his snowplow, where you put the toes of your skis in like that and your heels out. And come to a sudden stop. Or he'd come down the side of the mountain at a very rapid rate of speed, and he'd do a fast right or left turn, which was a stem turn, called a Stem Christie. And he'd come to a fast turn and stop and all of a sudden the snow would fly up in front. Everyone would try to emulate him. And then we had a one of our own, the only we only had two Olympic heroes of our own. Torger Tokle. Torger Tokle was the high jump champion of the world. His Torger Tokle's record had never been beat. I saw Torger Tokle killed. Somebody remarked, "He got to die with his boots on." He would not turn his ski boots in. Everybody else turned them in, he kept his. He was killed on Mount Belvedere, Torger Tokle was. Anyway, and we had two guys come to us. They were rock climbers. Now, one of them was named French. He climbed Seneca Rock over in West Virginia. The government supplied him with equipment and everything for rock climbing and he and they inducted a bunch of men and sent them in for him to train, and he trained them over there.
  7/1943 I was not a skier. I went up in Pennsylvania and they had skiers up there, and I was so impressed with the guys skiing. I didn't have the money to rent skis. I could have rented them and skied up there, but I didn't have the money to rent, so I couldn't ski. So when they asked me in the Army they said, "What is your favorite sport?" And I said, "Skiing." They seen that on my record. "His favorite sport is skiing." Well, when I applied for it, I went to the battalion commander and I pleaded. Well, it used to be when I wanted something real bad, I could plead in such a way that they would give it to me. So I told him how bad that I wanted that. I said, "Oh, I want that 10th Mountain. I want that in the worst way. I've got to get in that 10th Mountain. I would be a better soldier in that 10th Mountain. I could serve them well if I get in the 10th Mountain." And I go down and the battalion commander said, "If you want it that blankety-blank," he said "damn." He said, "If you want it that damn bad, okay, I'll send you down there." They give me a string of meal tickets, you know, a bunch of meal tickets and a bunch of train tickets, you know, they was all fastened together. They put them in sections, you know, but different sections. But they're stuck together. And I got on the plane or train and rode that thing. But they would lay over for troop trains or I mean, they were hauling tanks and stuff like that, you know. Your troop trains would lay over for that, you know. And then the passenger trains would. And them old trains would come so slow and they would be so long, you know, and having tanks, artillery and different trucks and different types of Army equipment and they would be it seemed like it would be a mile long, but we would lay over for them. It took you a long time to go. I took days to go. I would come home on a 14 day furlough. I would use two days up t
  9/1943 I made it to the 10th Mountain Division leaving behind the parachute regiment where I trained for several months. Camp Hale was 14,000 feet but D Series was 13,000 feet. And we had six weeks outs there, and it was all way below [sic] sea level. And you talk about some miserable training. Well, you know, you'd have to put skis on, and you'd have to cross country ski out quite a distance, take the skis off, because the skis made noise in the snow, especially when you had a crush, and your enemy could see you. So they'd have an enemy tent out there and they'd have guys dressed in enemy uniforms like real enemies. They'd have real guys dressed like real enemies guards and that CP and we'd have to slip up on them put the bayonet to their neck, you know. And "You say anything and I'll kill you." And the guys wanted to cooperate with you because they were in that blizzard cold. That prompted them to get it over with and they wanted it done right. So they're not going to say, "Hey, try to take me prisoner here." They weren't going to do that see, so they would cooperate with you. Okay. You had to have alternates. There would be two men had to go into that enemy tent and they would go in there and they could speak fluent German, those two guys could. And they could read fluent German, real fluent, so they would go in there, and they take the German officers prisoners. Well, they would cooperate, too. They wanted to get out of the cold. And they would have to go through the documents. And they would go through documents. They had to take out just the essential documents. If they took too much, you'd have to run it over again. If they took too little and left essential documents, you'd have to run it over again. So those guys would have to read the enemy files and get just the essential documents and do it real neat in the right way. So anyway, we had that kind of training. You had hand to hand defense training.
  9/1943 I said that I had never skied before in my life. When I went to Camp Hale, Colorado, they had a CQ on duty and all the rest of the men were out in Sugarloaf on maneuvers. Okay. Sugarloaf would be just a big there's 2 or 3 Sugarloafs in the United States. Its just a big ball like mountain shaped sort of a round top like an astrodome. And they call them Sugarloafs. So anyway, they were out there on maneuvers and the charge of quarters, there was one man in charge who would stay in, and we ate dehydrated food, this old dehydrated cereal. It was great for the first day, but after that, after three days, it got pretty bad eating that old powdered milk and dehydrated cereal. So then come a Weasel drove up. A Weasel is a Jeep like truck with Caterpillar tractor treads on it. They took some hot food out to the guys and they took me out there. Well, I was out there late got there late in the evening and they took me over they had a ranger shack and the supply sergeant give me my skis and he told me just leave them there, and I could pick them up the next morning. When you got back to camp, you had to do police call. We'd take the cigarettes and we'd peel strip them. We'd take the thumb and forefinger and peel the paper back like that on the cigarettes and roll it up in a little roll and flip the tobacco back out on the ground. Well, you don't see nothing, but the officers would put butts, cigarette butts in their ash tray and they'd go out there and sprinkle them around for meanness, so when we come back they'd say, "I see a lot of cigarette butts on the ground, so we're going to have police call." So there would be a police call, and everybody would go, "This blankety blank chicken outfit," you know what they would say, a dirty word chicken outfit, and they'd make you police up them. Well, he would start moving towards the dining room door, so he could be first.
  9/1943 So they took us out to get our skis after that so we went over to the range a lot of the guys had their skis but I had to go to the ranger shack and get my skis and bring them out. He told me the leave them in there and they wouldn't get iced up, the bindings and things, by leaving them outside, see? So anyway, I watched the other guy well, we had to put wax. So we had three kinds. One wax for slush, one wax for crush and powder, three different types of snow. So anyway, the old platoon sergeant said what type of wax to use that day, because he could see what we was going to have, you see. I put the wax on just the same as the other guys, okay. So the bindings I was having trouble. A man from my squad, Montgomery, skied up, and he said, "I had trouble with these bindings in the start, just like you. Let me give you a hand. He dropped down on one knee, he fastened my bindings on me, okay? As soon as I got my bindings on, the other guys were scooting their skis back and forth like that. I started scooting mine back and forwards. And there's a slight the bank is slanted just a little bit. I got to scooting them back and forth and all of the sudden they went backwards real quick and I fell right in between them. Oh, I'm coming out of there saying some cuss words. And some guy said, "You better watch that clowning around like that." He said, "You can get bad hurt." Well, I'm thinking, "Who in the blankety blank is clowning?" I'm not clowning. This is for real, I'm a thinking. So anyway, they said, "All right, let's go. Everybody move out." So they started to move out, you know. And there's just no formation or anything. All we had to do was just go about 30 yards, and there was a creek and as soon as you crossed the creek you took the bank on the other side and you started up that steep mountain over on that other side. So I walked, just like stepping, walking on them skis.
  9/1943 I went walking across there just like them other guys. I wasn't having any trouble. Because I had roller skated and stuff before, and had a good sense of balance and everything, so I had no problem doing it that way, see? So we got over and started up the other side. I went to go and I kept my skis too straight and going up and all of a sudden they went backwards on me and I fell in between again. And Whitey Earl Johnson in my squad said, "Hey, we are two of the last guys," because we was 3rd Squad." He said, "Cossin, I'll bet you're the best skier in the whole bunch." He said, "Usually a guy who plays around like that, he turns out to be the best skier," but he said, "You could get hurt doing that." I said, "Look, I'm doing the best I can do." He said, "Are you for real? That's the way you ski?" And I said, "I can't how in the heck do you get up there?" He said, "You don't know how?" He said, "Do like me." He said, "Watch me, I'm going like an old duck, heels in and toes out. Now watch me make the steps like this, turn your feet sideways. Over the rough terrain, the rough part right there. Come like this." And he showed me. And I followed him, and I started to do everything he done, and I got up. And they had a young sergeant there, Stepnowski. A great big young Polish guy. He would go clear up front, ski clear back to where Johnson and I was, and then back up front. He done that two or three times going up the hill. He had that much stamina to do that.
  9/1943 So anyway, we got up there and they could just in the 10th Mountain, they could just grab any guy and let him do orientation. Picked one guy and said, "Hey you you got orientation this morning." And called him by his last name, you know. He took the U.S. News and World Report and glanced through it and pretty soon he would begin to talk and tell you and give you the news from it, and after this he picked a Bayonet up, another paper there, and he'd give you a talk from it. And then he went over and they had a training aid. They had maps, you know, over a stand, and he flipped a map over and showed where the allied positions was, and where the enemy's positions was. Well, the enemy positions was red and ours was blue, but it looked like that the red had a whole lot more of the map than we did. It looked real scary. But anyway, he gave the orientation. And the Lieutenant give a couple of talks on tactual problems, and then down in the valley the cook hit the triangle and said, "Come and get it." And the Lieutenant said, "You guys heard what he said, every man for himself, go get it." And them guys boy, them good skiers just went out and they said, "Whee," and took a leap down over the steep part of that hill. Oh, they went down through them trees and things real fast. I'm out there trying to see how the guys are doing it. Boy, I'm going to watch this real close. Pretty soon the Lieutenant said, "All right, it's up to you. We're the last ones." And I had to go. Okay, I started down through there, and I'm aiming them things like a sled, straight. Not guiding them or anything. I'd see I'm going to hit a tree, I'd lean uphill and fall. And I'd get back to me feet, and I'd turn the skis so that I would miss the tree, and I'd ski on by. And I'd see a rock or something, and I'd ski around them by falling and then I kept doing that until I got almost down to the bottom, and there's a big old t
  9/1943 I skied down there and I followed the contour of that halfway around, and I fell in A five foot snow drift on any shoulders, landed on my shoulders, my skis up here about five feet. Out come this Lieutenant, skiing real fast, man. Come to a sudden stop. "How bad are you hurt?" I said, "I'm not hurt." He said, "You hit that. How bad are you hurt? Where are you hurting at?" He said, "Did you hit your leg, or what?" And I said, "I'm not hurt." He said, "Well, you have to be." He said Well, I'm mad. I said, "Damn it, I said I'm not hurt. I didn't hit the tree." Well, he said, "If you're not hurt, what are you doing down there." I said, "I'm down here because my skis are up here and I'm down here and I can't get them down here with me." And he started laughing. Oh, you talk about a guy laughing. Well, I'm saying I hate to say these cuss words, but I said, "What the hell is so damn funny?" And he laughed and laughed and laughed. He said, "Take ahold of my ski pole. Now when I start pulling," he said, "you bring that left ski down in there with you, okay?" And he started pulling and I brought that left ski down in there and when I did, I'm raised to a standing position, and when I brought that right ski down there and I shot it in and got out of there really cussing. He said, "Where did you learn to ski?" I said, "I didn't. This is the first day I've been on skis in my life." He said, how in the Hell did you get up there?" I said, "I followed Johnson. I done everything Johnson done, and that's how I got up there." Well, he said, "If you can follow Johnson and get up there, do everything Johnson done, maybe you can follow me and got down off of here without killing yourself, by doing everything I do." I said, "You show me how to stop these damn things and show me how to gu
  9/1943 "Now Cossin," he said, "in our 10th Mountain, a guy has to have one or two things going for him. He has to be unusually smart or a lot of guts. You're not all that smart," he said. But he said, "I don't want to out of this outfit. I want you to stay in. Now don't you get discouraged. I want you in this outfit. Stay with it. Now, I'm going to send a man with you, Grater. Grater is a good skier, he's a nice man to work with. Now, he'll teach you. He won't scold you if you make mistakes. You go out with him. Now we're up here for three weeks on these maneuvers. You go out with him them three weeks, and by the time he gets through with you, you're gong to be good enough to go on cross country skiing with us, but I don't want to ever know of you going off a ski jump. Your type will go off a ski jump and kill yourself. Now, I don't want you to ever go off of no ski jump, do you understand that? Don't ever let me know of you ever being on a ski jump." I said, "I won't, I won't." So I gave my word I won't. So anyway, he sent me out there with Grater. And I went out I was out there three days, and he took me back and put me with the rest of the company. And I got to go on night patrol with him. So I went on the first night patrol that's why I'm describing taking the enemy position out and stuff. We went out on skis on the night patrol. But anyway, that was my first day of skiing, and after that I got until I could do it.
  11/1943 Our battalion commander come to us and here's how they got instructors. They got me, a guy by the name of Henry Tonking and another guy called Jock Billings. They got us, the instructors, to go to the artillery and teach them hand to hand defense with the bayonet. A bayonet on the rifle. The reason they took us, not because we were smart or doing better, we showed more enthusiasm than the other guys in the training. Jockwa Billings was showing a whole lot of enthusiasm, I was, and Henry Tonking was. The battalion commander told our company commander, "I want that man there. I want this man over here. I want this Sergeant here to go and be in charge. And I want him to go out to my artillery and I want him to teach them hand to hand defense. I want him to teach them club defense. I want them to teach them knife defense. I want them to teach them bayonet defense." So, his orders was carried out. Okay, now Jockwa Billings was a small stocky built guy, a little guy. In school, the boys would come up and he was smaller than the rest of the guys his age. They would come up and they would grab him around the waist like this and lift his feet off the ground and walk around and jostle him up and down like that and his feet wouldn't touch and the boys and girls would laugh at him. And they kept doing that until Jock figured out how to take care of that situation and he took care of it.
  11/1943 Now, we went out to the artillery elected by Battalion Commander Wanderstute. Now Jock had instructed us before and we practiced it. All that day we got to practice it. Taking the bayonet from the guy, let the guy but we did it different. They always did it the scabbard on the bayonet. We had the scabbard taken off the bare bayonet. We wanted it to look for real. The guy would charge with the bayonet like that and you took it from him, see? And I'll explain later how you took the bayonet from him, how you put him to the ground and everything. See, because this is commando type training, too, you know. So anyway, the 10th Mountain was the first commando group and they even taught some of the earlier commandos, the 10th Mountain did. So their picture is right in with some of the green beret and guys like that was mixed right in with the 10th Mountain at one time up in New England.
  11/1943 Jockwa told them, he said, "Now, we're going to show you how to do some hand to hand defense, and we're going to start off with a rifle and bayonet." He said, "Now back home," he said, well, first of all, he said, "Have you got a big man here?" He said, "Now, normally an instructor always just stands back and instructs and has somebody else do it, but I want to do this myself." He said, "Have you got a big guy here? I want him to come up and I want to show you something." Well, every outfit, they always have a big guy they call "Tiny." "Go on, Tiny, go on." So up goes the big guy. He went up and Jockwa turned his back to the big guy. The big buy grabbed Jockwa around the waist like the boys did back in school, raised his feet off the ground, and he said you know this was never rehearsed between those two. And he told Jockwa, he said, "You wasn't expecting me to do this, was you little man?" So he carries Jockwa around and Jockwa told him, "Now you people see what he's doing? He's carrying me around here like the kids did back in school. Until I invented my hip toss." And the big said, "What do you mean hip toss?" Jockwa said, "This." And he did this fast wiggle in the big guy's arms and he come down with his right foot right down the guy's shin and stomped the guy the big guy's foot. Now, the idea was to trip the big guy. He stepped his right foot in front of the big guy's feet and he took his right hip and bumped the big guy in the groin. The big guy jerked back like that on his tiptoes. Jockwa leaned forward and bring the big guy down, and when he slammed him to the ground, he said, "Now you people see what I mean?" He said, "You don't have to be big. You don't have to be tough. You just have to know what to do and do it fast. You don't give them time to think it over. You know what to do, he don't know what y
  12/1943 I was sent to Italy as part of the 85th regiment along with the 86th and 87th regiment. Our officers, they had a saying. They called us, our officers was allowed to call us that. We let them call us that. They called us, ridge running, stump jumping son of a bitches. So they would call, "Come on, you ridge running, stump jumping, son of a bitches." And they would up in combat situation guys would spring to their feet, buddy, and go forward. And in combat we called it grubbing. Whenever there was little bushes out in your fields in farm community, they called them sprouts, about this high. They take a mallet and they hew this thing out by the roots. Well, that's called grubbing. Okay. We'd be going up this mountain 75 yards in front of us are artillery, way back in the valley, and it's firing over the top of us and hitting 75 yards in front of us and tearing them bushes out by the roots, spouts throwing rocks in the air and dirt and debris going in the air like that. And we'd say, "Grub'em, grub'em, grub'em out." As you're going up, but now you see, the reason they can do it that close to you, they couldn't if you're flat land, the shrapnel would come back and get you. But if you're going up in a slant like this, like it hit up there and the shrapnel mushrooms over the top of you and it goes way back over you, but it don't come out where you are, straight out to where you are, because it's hitting up there and when the nose cone strikes in an angle, that goes back up this way, straight up and then showers back over the top.
  12/1943 The 85th, 86th and 87th regiments was all the regiments they had in the 10th Mountain Division. That makes a Division. All trained at Camp Hale at the same time. All went over there at the same time. All was formed at the same time. At Camp Hale. They brought soldiers in. Mountain soldiers signed up for it. They come from Yale and Dartmouth College and from the most prestigious colleges come to the 10th Mountain. It's unusual for some to have college. I wasn't a college grad. But it's unusual to have college graduates in your lined combat infantry outfit like that. They don't they would maybe the officers had it but never. But hey the Germans wasn't impressed. The Germans had educated elite soldiers in theirs. These soldiers wasn't no mediocre type soldiers, buddy. They were highly educated, many of them.
  1/1944 The first mission in Italy, they called it Riva and Belvedere. Riva Ridge, when you look at her, she has got a bald face, actually she's like the Grand Canyon. You got to put pitons and carabiners down and fix ropes and whoop that baby. And you got to do it in the nighttime. You got an enemy up there, but you got to do it secretly. You can't just go up there and start hammering and pounding and making noise. There can't be no noise. You have to take the shell the ammunition out of your rifles. They'll tell you, "We'll court martial any man if his rifle fires while we're going up. Because they don't want the enemy to know you're coming up there. Our commander's name, was Hays. General Crittenberger outranked Hays, and they looked at Riva and Crittenberger said, "Nobody can scale that." Hays said, "My 10th will scale her. My 10th will go up there at night time and they will scale her." So Crittenberger told him, "Go ahead, go ahead if you can do it." Now, the reason they had to do it, they had to scale it because the big guns were on Riva. When you took Belvedere over here, which was the main objection, the big guns on Riva would shell them on Belvedere and they would have to withdraw. They would put too much fire power on them, you understand, and they was too well dug in and the planes couldn't get them out, and they had to take those guns out and that's why our 85th, my outfit didn't go up.
  1/1944 The 87th went up scaling Riva with free climbers. Free climbers can go up a slick wall ten, eleven stories up, and you see them going up that wall and you get nervous just watching them climb. They're climbing up there like human flies. And they go up there and go eleven stories. They go in a window and the police arrest them for doing it. They always get arrested for doing it, but, you know, they always become a very famous person because they did do it. The free climbers would go ahead and they put them pitons in, and a piton was a little round ring with a little wedge thing made well, that's what a piton is. They had carabiners links about few inches around and they put them links, sometimes they put three or four links to get them away from the bulge in the rock, you know. To put them off to one side, they would fasten three for four links. And then they would put the rope through the link, but they put them fixed ropes down. The free climbers went up and they put five fixed ropes and they had to put the whole 87th up them. They couldn't have made it, but a dense fog rolled in about eight o'clock. And the enemy couldn't see them and they got up there and they fanned out. And then all of a sudden I did feel sorry for the enemy men. Whenever those infantry charged those artillery people, they wasn't like regular infantry, my goodness gracious. You'd hear screaming and then you'd hear a loud boom. They'd blow that ammo up around them guns, too. They would take them guns out. Now, they had acid grenades, some of those guys would scale that artillery barrel, that 88 barrel up it and drop that acid grenades down there and it would eat the whole inside of that rifling out of that artillery piece. They'd take a piece out of the breech lock, one little piece out of the breech lock and they would throw it away, and that rendered the gun useless until they could get another piece. By 10:30 they hollered, "Your 87th has captured Riva."
  1/1944 So they had hollered at us, you know, "Up and at 'em. 85th, up and at 'em, you ridge running stump jumping son of a bitches, get 'em." Well, everybody sprung to their feet and went at them. But then they started, like I said, they started that grubbing. And here come P 38s, little fighter planes. They would come in in a squadron and them babies would come in from this way and they would dive bomb, they would strafe. You'd hear that like thunder claps, you know. And then they had little bombs strapped underneath of their wing and they would unfasten that little bomb and it would hit the ground and you could put a Volkswagen in the crater it tore out, even as small as that bomb was. It could tear I've even dove in for holes, you know, for protection from artillery. I've dove into those little bomb craters. And then thunder bolts would go, P 38s would go through, and different two or three groups of planes come from different sides. And all that artillery and you'd say, "Oh man, they've got everybody up there." You'd get almost to the summit and them guys was live and full of fight. Uh uh. It sounded like popcorn popping. The rifles of theirs a popping and a cracking, you know. And mines, S mines throwing guys and leaping in the air. They leap up about six foot and they just shower ball bearings out, you know the S mine does. So it was pretty rough combat. But like guys said, "If this damn combat gets any rougher out here, it will be as bad as D series back in Colorado." Because your D series was rough and it was a rugged outfit and it had rugged training, real rugged.
  1/1944 If you look at Riva, it's like this wall here, straight. And it's all icy and stuff. No, they had to I'm telling you, if they hadn't have you or me could never have climbed up there and put pitons down. They had to be the human fly free climbers, I'm telling you, to do it. They had that many guys in your outfit. These special guys come to us, you know. And we had special guys of our own, too. So it was not a mediocre outfit. She was elite. Now watch this, I'm going to show you how elite soldiers what I say about elite soldiers. Your German Edelweiss soldier was a very elite soldier. He was a mountain soldier. He trained at Oxford. He didn't have to our material had to be taken to the East Coast, loaded on ships, took to Naples, Italy. They had to go from Naples, Italy on another ship around La Verna, unloaded at La Verna and put on trucks and took all the way up to Bagni di Lucca, not Bagni di Lucca they went to Bagni di Lucca, too, but to but there was another one. Gavinana. They had to go all the way up to Gavinana and then ox cart up the Bagni di Lucca so that's the way ours. Theirs had to come from just out of Austria over the border. When the Finns when Russia beat Finland, took over little Finland, because she was so small and Russia was too big, even though the Finns was so effective against them and slaughtered them, they won, the Russians did. Half of those Finns come to us, the United States. The other half went to Germany. Why? The Germans was fighting against the Russians. So they said, one Finn in our outfit was all mixed up. He said, "I'm all mixed up." And one of our guys said, "Why?" He said, "Well, you know, I was told that Germany you people tell me that Germany is my enemy. Well, Germany helped us fight them damned Russians. I still think I would rather kill Russians than I would anybody in this world." So he was all mixed up.
  3/1944 When you took a mountain in Italy, you had different names of mountains. Della Torraccia. Spigolino. Della Spe. Monte. They would always say the word "Monte" first, meaning mountain. Monte Della Spe, Monte Spigolino, and like that. Well, once you took that summit, then you had a bunch of hills. So they didn't call them Della Spe no more. They called it H01, H02 H03. And all the way up sometimes to HO8. And that would be eight big hills you had to take before you could go up the mountain and down into the valley. So you had to take lots of things. I have had to go across those mountains just as far as my eyes could see. Many hills I made every step from here, clear across there, and into Po valley. Why? I didn't get wounded. And if you don't get wounded in the outfit, you go every step your outfit goes. So I did. I saw lots and lots of combat.
  3/1944 Well, what's combat like in there? I was a point man in Italy you'd be going along, you put 50 yards out in front of the rest. You're not running anything. The company commander told me one day we had to crawl up to the crest of the hill and we crawled up and he said, "Look across there to your left front." He said, "You see the saddle of the hill?" And I looked and I said, "Yes." He said, "Now look from that saddle down," he said, "about a thousand yards." He said, "See that pine grove?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "You see that level bench between the pine grove and that stand of trees going through there?" He said, "You see the bench?" "Yep." He said, "I want to you take my company." "I'm just out there to explode mines. If I step on a mine because that's a mine field and they decide they can bleach the mine field or go around it or I'm out there to spot artillery. just out there like a guinea pig. I'm going along and I'm seeing low places, stumps, trees, things that I can dive if I here artillery come in or I get shot at. I can dive behind it and return fire, you understand. So I'm seeing all these things as I'm going and if there's a little clump of weeds over there that's too dark, spider webs running from there, ooh, that's above the ground surface mine. And that's the trip wire. And I step over it and go on. You don't stop for trip wire, but you go over it and everybody back there would be coming in a single file because with mountainous terrain you have to go in a single file, and that rough goat trails you have to go that single file until you make contact with the enemy, and then you may go into your wedge, a diamond, a tee, or a horizontal. But as you're moving out, you’re not going in those positions; you're going in like a single file. So as I'm moving along there one time, I'm looking for lumpy ground. That's ab
  3/1944 I was raised in West Virginia until I was 14, but after that I spent a year down in Logan, Ohio, see, so we used to climb at Logan. We have used to climb down there. We'd play down there until our parents found out what we was doing and stopped us from doing it, you know. But anyway, as I'm going along now in this mountain outfit, I'm walking and he told me, he said, "Now E Company," the company manager said, "E Company will be in the pine grove. You watch that hill where the saddle is to your left." Well, I'm going along now, and I'm a watching that hill real close because if I see a rock move that's a helmet, you see. And I can holler "enemy" and hit the ground and put fire where the rock was, you know. And then I could say how far the enemy is or how many I saw or how much movement or something. I'm reporting back. They're putting it on back to the company commander. They're relaying messages back. Well now, as I went along, my shoulder went right by a little white oak tree about this big around. Just as my shoulder started to move by it, two white spots come right about my eye level. On right quick. As soon as I saw that, I've got my weapon like a man a hunter carries his weapon. I carry my hand in the trigger like this, and my left hand is in the front hand guard of the rifle and I'm carrying it like that. As soon as them white spots come on there, I've got to put my rifle against my chest real quick. I bring my left hand up real quick, my right hand comes and grabs the front side of the rifle, I slam it up against my chest, with this hand I grab my head, and I said (moaning sound), like he hit me. He was one click just over this temple, here's where he was aiming. But he was left one click left winded is too much and that's way he passed my eye, passed my eyes, did that. I said (moaning sound) and I fell to the ground, just rolled down.
  3/1944 Fortunately, I was in a line of rocks. I rolled and I put some rocks between me and the people that shot. And I knew they shot from the pine grove from the angle of the bullet. The strife of the bullet told me exactly where they come from. You know by the strife of the bullet where they're shooting from. So anyway, when that happened I lay there and the company commander gave a withdrawal. Well, he could have fired smoke canisters out but he didn't he had smoke canisters to fire out but he didn't. And so they withdrawed back into a sprout and ruddy area behind me and Jack Lessing, my squad leader, said, "Withdraw Coss, if you can." For all intents and purposes they thought that I had been killed. Because it looked like I had been killed. Okay. And I jumped to my feet and started to do a fast traverse. Well, a fast traverse going from side to side like that makes it hard for a guy to hit because the guy aiming his rifle is going like that, you know. So they're shooting by me and I started I got to where it got a little hillier and it got hard for me to traverse and I hear some laughing when I was trying to traverse on the steeper part, see?
  3/1944 So anyway, I got out of there up to where my company manager is, and I said, "Where is that SOB?" I didn't say it that polite. And one of my soldiers, squadron leaders, or not squadron in my squad, told me where he was at. And I just rushed out and fell down beside him, and I said, "You told me" and you never talk about it. Nobody ever talks about their company. And I said, "You told me a damn lie. You said E Company was in that pine grove. Nothing easy about them sons of bitches. They were firing real ammunition at me." He says, "What the hell did you expect them to be firing?" He said, "Get that out of your system." He said, "I'd feel the same way as you." He said, "I'd feel just exactly like you are feeling. I want you to get that you got to get that all out of your system." I'm more subdue now and I said, "Yes." He said, "Cossin, I want you to say that I told you you said I told up a damn lie. I told you the truth as I knew it. My battalion commander told me that E Company would be in that pine grove. That's why I told you E Company was in that pine grove." He said, "Now you see why I told you that. I told you the truth as I knowed it." Well, now I'm feeling a little bad that I talked to him the way I did. I said, "Well, them trees out there looked like they had freckles." He told me, he said, "Go back to your squad." "But," he said, "don't you ever talk back to me again, Cossin. I don't care a damn if you're right or wrong." So he said, "Go back to you squad." "But them trees out there look like they got freckles." "Hold it, Hold it, hold it. What do you mean the trees looked like they got freckles?" I said, "Well, when they was shooting at me when I was traversing on that bench there," I said, "they was shooting they was hitting them ch
  4/1944 We got about half way into a field, and they opened fire. When they opened fire, we broke and went over the crest of the hill. As we did that, one of them lay badly wounded in the open field. Ed Welch said, "Oh boy." He was a Cherokee Indian. He always said he was three quarter Cherokee Indian but was more like hundred percent Cherokee Indian. He said, "A boy is hurt down there bad." He needs help." "No, Welch no." "I'm going to go get him. I'm going to go get him. He needs help." "No, Welch. Don't go after him. They'll get you. Welch, that's less than 500 yards across there. They'll kill you for sure. And he just set his rifle up beside him and that guy said, "Oh. Medic. Medic." And he set his rifle in the corn crib and he went running down through there. It was a beautiful traverse. And look here, they was shooting at him so fast and so hard that there was dust flying from behind him. They were trying their best to get him, but there was dust flying on both sides of him, cause it was in April. Welch ran down and grabbed this guy up and put him on his shoulders and tried to traverse up the hill. When he tried to traverse up the hill, believe me, the enemy stopped trying to kill him. They tried to kill him going down. You could hear them over in the houses laughing. Because he can't traverse up a hill, a steep hill, with a guy on his shoulder. Few feet to Welch's left, another one bullet kicked up as he was going up that steep terrain carrying that guy. And they did that about three shots on each side of him, showing him. " We're not trying to kill you. Trying to show him he don't have to hurry so hard. When Welch went under this big old cottonwood tree, it was in April and it was leafed out. They put rapid fire in the top of that tree and cut leaves and twigs off and come down and showered him and the wounded guy. See they showed him, "We can kill you, but we salute you.
  7/1944 So I asked, "Where is the company commander at?" And they told me, "He's right out there standing." He was out there and he had a paper and he was making little x's on it. And I went up to him and I said, "Hey, there's a truck down there that's unloading mines. You can get mortars on them and tear that truck up." "No, I don't want to tear that truck up. If I tear the trucks up, they'll bury the mines and I won't know where they're at and my company will go through it and get I want them to go ahead and bury them so I can know where they're at. That's why I'm making these x's here. Go away now." Me and Whitey Johnson, because we're close to last of my squad, and we're up there because we been point. So when the enemy come up, he asked them the interpreter Mamaroosh to say, "Where is your gun placement and where is your mining fields at?" And the enemy would give name, rank and serial number. He asked them again. They told him name, rank and serial number. "Mamaroosh, ask him if he can see that white house in the valley." And he said, He said, "Mamaroosh, tell him a warm POW camp with warm food and blankets. Mamaroosh, tell him to look at the snow covered ground at his feet. And the guy, "yah, yah," looked down. "Mamaroosh, tell him if he gives me name, rank and serial number again, that's where he'll be laying dead. Or if he tells me where they're at, it will save lives on his men's lives because I'll take the guns out and there will be less of his people killed and less of mine killed. Now, if he tells me where they're at, he'll go down to the POW camp. He said, "You get ready." So we knocked the safeties off our rifles and got a bead on the guy's arm, or his heart, and they asked him. And the guy begin to tell him and pointed and told him where the mine field was and told him where the gun placement was. You see, the C.O. was that tricky. We been tricked, and
  1/1945 We were close to Bodenscoden. There was a lot of mixed Balkan SS, so they had the SS relieve Edelweiss. They thought that they would would slow the advance and show the Edelweiss Our Fox and E Company went around this side of the mountain that whole crest up there lay down. Yellow flames shot out and then come a loud bang and then smoke and it threw some of those guys up in the air. One guy was walking and probably dead and his legs was moving and he was up on that smoke. He was thrown up above that smoke and it looked like he was walking on the smoke and fell dead. Then the phosphorous shells come over and it exploded over our head and pieces as big as my thumb of white steel come down and it's like a blacksmith hits white steel. It come down, hit guys, went through their backs. They hit the ground when they heard the shell coming in and whistling in. It's common for soldiers to hit the ground. And I saw it burned through hit one guy's helmet and burned a hole through his own steel helmet. Went through the guy's skull and it come out his face here, some of them went through the sides and they wasn't dead in they was screaming and the company commander saw that and tears began to come down his cheeks because he was standing not too far over from me and he began to make a sound. I never saw it before in combat and I never saw it after. He said, "Fix bayonets. And when you shoot the sob’s put the bayonet to them before they hit the ground." And they made a charge on the enemy's position with fixed bayonets. One guy was trying to throw up his hands and the guy jumped back and the squad leader, "Bayonet him or I'll shoot the back out of your head, you SOB you." Of course, he had to throw the bayonet in him. Take no prisoners. We always had nice ethical standards, take your prisoners and stuff like that. But that day that fine codes of ethics was over until the next day and then he went back to the old way again.
  2/1945 Another incident that I can recall in my 10th Mountain that I was kind of proud of to tell, and then I want to tell you something good about my enemy, too. I'm a scout, but I'm not the scout of every movement, because sometimes they get another scout to go out, see, so they don't have one man scout every day and every day and every push. So I'm next to the last man back, being with the third squad again, now. We had locked and loaded. In combat, you don't go with a cocked weapon ready to fire if you touch the trigger. Because you have to fall, you have to roll with that weapon. Sometimes the barrel, the muzzle of it is under your neck as you're rolling and stuff like that. You could blow your own head off if you had the hammer back, and so it would be, they called it locked and loaded. So I'm a going with a full clip of ammunition and our borders had fired out and hit an enemy machine gun nest and they had head wounds. They was on their knees when they were firing the machine gun. Well, that mortar hit right in there and the shrapnel come up and hit most of them in the heads. So there was bad head wounds, not wounded but killed. They were laying there dead. One guy laying there was on his back. Well, his eyes was open and he was watching me. Cause the dead guy is not closed. So the dude is laying there watching me. He's probably faking took his knife or bayonet and scratched a little place there, took a 45 shell or something and twisted it in there, made a round hole, reached to these wounded guys and take a handful of blood and slapped on there and it looked like he was shot right in the heart, you understand. So I see the guy and no doubt he's got his hand with a revolver in it like that if I'm going to bayonet him, he's going to shoot me. I come up and he's dead because he's shot in the heart, so I don't bayonet the guy but I hear little tapping sounds.
  2/1945 There is what they call a stacking swivel a few inches back from the muzzle where the bullet comes out. . Well, that little thing was swinging back forth like that tapping on the metal and I could hear him running downhill at me and tapping that faint sound caused me because you go by sound and smell and hearing. So, ooh, I whipped around. Here comes a big enemy right at me. I said, you know, how to take a guy down. I knew how to do it. But I've got a full clip. Why do I want to take a challenge and take that man down? Some people do. Many better soldiers than me do. I leaped to one side. I got a full clip. I took my thumb and shoved the safety off of my rifle. It's in front of the trigger guard, I shoved it forward and ready to fire two fast shots off in his chest and kill him dead. But a commanding voice shouted, "Don't shoot!" I flipped my finger away from the trigger. There's my fellow mountain solder down there about 30 yards. He's a kicking his heels in the snow and turning his feet sideways and he leaned way forward with his rifle and fixed bayonet and when he leaned forward, the enemy went running down there. And the hands guards, those rifles slammed together real hard and made a loud noise and I saw a fast movement and then I saw blood fly out in front between them. And I thought to myself, "Who got who?" And I saw my fellow mountain soldier go backwards, and I thought uh oh, he got my fellow mountain soldier, but instead he was pulling the bayonet. I said," What happened?" My fellow mountain soldier said, "He thought he could take me." And turned and nonchalantly went down over the mountain the way he was supposed to go. I heard movement in the snow over here to my left front and I glanced like that quick and Dubois was coming facing me and he stopped. Showed me some teeth like that, nodded his head. "That's the way it's done." He said, "Wow" to himself. "What
  5/1945 End of World War II. We went up to Mount Spiazzi. When we went there, we went through, there was a town before you get to Mount Spiazzi, it was Riva. We started the ar at Riva Ridge, but then when we ended up, there was a town called Riva, so when we went through this town, women ran out and the kissed every one of us as we were going through the line. Yeah. Pretty, ugly and all they ran out where we were going along and men are shaking our hands. And they were hollering "Tedesco. Tu te Via Tedesco. Bravo Americano Bravo." They were hollering. Great for you Americans. Tedesco. Tu te Via. Strada, Strada. "Strada" means street. And "Tedesco" is German, and "tu te via" means he's gone. As we got to Mount Spiazzi, just as soon as we got to Mount Spiazzi, he had done went through Mount Spiazzi, and all down through those valleys, those Catholic churches, those bells started ringing. We called them "the Bells of Mount Spiazzi." Boy them bells were ringing Italian people we didn't know about the war. They were jumping in the air and they begin hollering "Finito bueno. Finito buelo." Well, we didn't know what some of us know "finito buelo" means. Finish means "finito" and "buelo" means war. Finish the war, finish the war. And some guys said, "Hey, listen to that, listen to what the Italians said. He said the war is finished. Look there at them and they're jumping up and down." And guys begin to fire their weapons up in the air and the enemy over on the other hill began to fire their weapons up in the air. We went down to Naples and we caught the Marine Fox. We took a truck now down to Naples. We got the Marine Fox ship took us to Camp Shanks, New York, and when we got to Camp Shanks, New York, they give us all warm food. We had been eating them old frozen C rations and stuff. Sometime. But then we had it wasn't frozen because it was in May and
  8/1945 We came home on a small ship called the Marine Fox and we got half way across and Tibbets dropped the big bomb. We were supposed to come to Camp Shanks, New York, and then they were going to send us Carson, Colorado and from Carson they were going to send us to our homes on a 45 day furlough and then we were going to come back to Carson and go fight the Japs. So that's what the Tenth was going to do. Well, I'm home on the 45 day furlough. The second bomb was dropped and the Japs surrendered. So I didn't have to. I went back and I got my I didn't get my discharge. I went back and the First Sergeant said, "What are you doing here? Go on home. You're out of the Army. You got enough points." He said, "You'll have to go to Fort Sheridan, Illinois three months from now and they will give you your discharge."
  9/1945 So you're home from World War II, preparing to go over to the Pacific, as you thought. The atomic bomb was dropped and the war had ended the war so I went to work at a meat packing company.
  1948 In 1948, what made you re enlist? I'm in there in this beef kill and I'm smelling entrails. So that noise, and wading in blood, and I'm come back as a combat infantry soldier anyway. I've been in gory situations, and now I'm here in all this and I think, "Well, this is pretty bad therapy for a combat veteran to be in a bunch of blood and noise and pigs squealing." And I decided people are coming back from Japan, and they're talking about the softest of garrison duty over in Japan. And I thought, "Well, hey, that sounds better than what I've got here." So I signed up for Japan. But I got over there well, hey, I'm a squad leader. I'm running squads, you know, in tactical problems and stuff, and I'm not getting the same money that I was getting at the packing house. It was good money at the packing house. But here I'm over there in the Army, making a small amount of money, you know, so I didn't better myself at all by going to Japan because but anyway I got over there and put two years of occupation duty with the 25th Division in Japan.
  1949 I've been in combat. My goodness, I could handle combat better than any soldiers could. But it had its drawbacks, you understand. It had its drawbacks. Why? Why? Well, I'm showing a boy on knife defense, and he's going to show now they've got one of these big-time sergeants. Oh yeah he's a Staff Sergeant. I'm only a little corporal. I should be higher than him, you know. But anyway, he told the kid, you know, he said, "Now, when you come at him with it, just tell him you're going to really stab him. Then come at him and give it this number like this." Because me and the kid I talked it over and I said, "Now, you can take the stab drop and that will make it look a little tougher to them, and I'll block you like this. I'll throw my arm up and block you, and then I'll do such and such." And I told the kid to move it. Okay. But the sergeant got to him. We had a little intermission later on. We had a little break, you know, a smoke break, and me and the kid went into it. Well, he done got a hold of the kid and said, "Really come at him." And hey, the kid come with that not straight in, but gouging, and come at me and boy, I had to block him. I had to block him. And, "No, don't do that, man. Don't do that." And he laughed and the sergeant is laughing and the kid is gouging, and finally what I should have done is broke the kid's arm. Because, you see, he was jealous that I knew something that he didn't know. And I was doing something that was helpful. I wasn't gloating over the thing.
  1950 When you were doing Japanese occupation, did the Japanese cause you any problems at all? No problems at all.
  7/3/1950 We had been on maneuvers and we were at what they called Chigasaki Beach up north of Tokyo. We coming in on the beach, we had to crawl on the old sand, after you got that old salt water on you, and you're crawling around that sandy ground near the beach. And you're very, very uncomfortable with salt water on your skin anyway and then a mixture of sand. The next day we come in, sandy beach landing, but we're not using real ammunition. You can't fire live ammunition because you could hit their people or do damage, you know, so we used blanks. So we're travelling on the beach the second day, a band come out and started playing. And we started laughing. And it was drizzling rain. And we said, "Look at that. The guys are going to be blowing bubbles out of them horns there with that water leaking on them." We was having a big laugh and the battalion commander come out in a Jeep real fast, you know, made a big issue out of it and taking a big blow horn and he said, "Attention, attention. Company commander. Take charge of your companies and load them on trucks and go back to your home base." And everybody got off he said, "Maneuvers are cancelled." And they just cancelled the maneuvers. It happened that quick and they put us on trucks and the Jeep went ahead of us with the MPs at a rate of speed with the lights flashing right down Japanese streets. And they're moving at a very rapid rate of speed and they took us to Hamamatsu where our base was and as we drive into our camp, we notice strange people with arm bands on their arms and armed with weapons. And what in the world is this? They don't tell us anything. And we get unloaded from the trucks and we was ordered to go to our barracks. "All companies go to your barracks." We went to our barracks and then they come to us, our company commander said, "Men, I got to report to you, we've got a war going on in Korea. We've got to prepare to go over there."
  7/3/1950 A lot of these guys have never been to war before. Oh, they begin you talk about happy. They were jumping up and down and singing and laughing. "Oh my, we'll go over there and we'll finish that thing in about two months and we'll come back here for Christmas, and then we can talk about our war stories to them. That's what we'll tell them when we get back from that two months thing over in Korea, see?" And they thought it was going to be that easy and be about two months and they were going to get on back home. So and they got by the armed guards and went out and they got Suntory, which is a whiskey and they got beer. Their beer was in big bottles and usually hot didn't have it iced down like ours. And so they got jugs of beer and Suntory and oh, they got drunk, and they were jumping over foot lockers and laughing all night long. My goodness, there couldn't be no sleep because of all the racket from those guys. The next morning, they put us on a train and took us down to Yokosuka and again at a very rapid rate. Well, we went out to the train I'm going a little ahead of myself. We got out to the platform where we were catching a train and here is Japanese girls running on the platform with these little aborigine white babies in their arms, you know, American soldiers' babies. They're crying. "You seen Luckysan? Do you know where Luckysan is? "Do you know Jimmysan?" But some of them others, oh no, they come following the soldiers on the train, baby in their arms, and one MP would have to carry the baby and the other MP would have to pull the screaming woman off of the train. It was a terrible mess.
  7/4/1950 Now, they got the train going and it went at a rapid rate of speed and it took us down to Yokosuka and in Yokosuka we had to load on a they didn't have no ships. Now, all of our main shipping was over in the South China Sea to guard in Formosa against Chiang Kai Shek's force, I guess. The Mao Zedong Red Army, see. Afraid they were going to come in and take Chiang Kai Shek out, so we're over there our 7th Fleet is over there guarding that, see. And our other some of our troop transports was over there around Tokyo were the beach maneuvers was and they couldn't bring them down. It took a couple of days to come around to come down there, see? And our other ships was over around Hawaii big ships. So we had nothing there. They didn't even have a crawler or anything, but they put a Japanese crawler, a fish boat, and it smelled of the stench of fish, but they did put clean mats out for us to lay on, so we laid on clean mats and we went over to Korea that way and got over there. And, I don't know, I just felt jinxed in that country, you know, because I looked and I said, "What's them white things going up and down that hill? Look at all them red and white things going like ants? What is it?" "That's people, man. Don't you know what it is?" That was people in white peasant clothes. So they're going up and down the hill, but they were looking so little because I'm out there in the bay and looking way up on the side of the hill there. And oh, the stench was terrible.
  7/5/1950 I went to Korea on July 5th and went into combat the 6th. When we got in combat, you couldn't tell the friendly from the enemy because the friendly forces were supposed to wear white peasant clothes, but the enemy put white peasant clothes over his uniform. So you didn't know whether the young kids, you don't know if they're going to be armed or not. You don't know who the women is going to be armed. You don't know who you don't know who's who or what's what, you know. Strange, strange. There was no ethical standards, so that was a strange, strange war. It had no like I said, no rules. There was no rules of warfare in the Korean situation. And when we got into combat the first time, we got a Task Force Smith had been hit on July 5, 1950. That's the first American involvement in the war with Osan. So he had he was supposed to have a battalion of men there, but he lost a company and a half at Osan. There was 11 tanks overrun his position, you understand. He had to leave his wounded lay there and his dead. He couldn't take them out, but he left Osan and went across to Ansong. Ansong was a pretty good sized town and it was in the east mountain range. Well, he was afraid that their tanks was going to get in that east mountain range, so he went to Ansong to set up a blocking position, which was a good move for him to leave Osan to go across there.
  7/5/1950 So one of them kids said, "There it is." And they all begin to talk, real loud. And they were excited about it and the kids said, "Hey, Sarge, come here. We found them." Well, I went up there and I looked up there. I said, "Where is it?" "Up the track there." And I strained my eyes looking up the track. I looked about five miles up that track because I knew there was going to be a gray blotch up there in the bushes and that's going to be their tanks. I don't see it. He said, "You must be blind if you can't see it." "Well," I said, "How far is it? "Well, you see it at about 150 yards." I said, "What?" And I looked down over the damn hill and there it is right down in the ditch there and it's pulled in, there's a bunch of horseweeds and some bushes. It heard an airplane went over just prior to us getting there and that tank had went off of the road and hid into that ditch. I looked and I said, "Lieutenant, you better get your men out of here quick." I said, "That baby can back out of here and can really get us and you've only got a couple of bazookas. He knocks out them bazookas, he's going to take out a couple of companies back there, too. He's going to put helmets and boots in the air with that artillery on him if he gets back there to the damn company. They should be warned." And he has to load up and he turned the truck around when he went back to it. He said, "Now, I want you people to tell me, who wants to volunteer and come back and take out a tank? We'll go back to get a bazooka." I said, "If you go back to get that tank, you're going to have a tough time approaching him." I said, "If you get on the opposite side of the railroad track, and you can get up and you can get him with your bazooka you just crawl up and get him down over the track on the opposite side and get him." Well, I don't know how he
  7/6/1950 We had a late C ration breakfast. We sat in the drizzling rain and we hear humming sounds. And then pretty soon you hear, click clack, and there was tanks coming. Well, we had withdrawn. We were going north the day before to join up with the task force on the 5th. And we got within about ten miles of him, and we saw tank tracks. Lieutenant come along and he said, "You, Sarge." I've got them little corporal stripes, not a Sarge. "You Sarge. Get 12 men." I just went, "You. You. Come here.. Loaded them on the truck and we went up. The Lieutenant riding in front. We get up there, he stopped the truck and he jumped out. "You men dismount." He said, "Come here." He asked some kid, "So what do you see?" The kid looked there was railroad tracks to the left of us. "Well, I see a railroad tracks. I see a hill here. I see some damn trees over there. And I see the sky. Now what the hell do you expect me the see in this damn Korea?" The lieutenant said, "Is that all you see?" And the kid said, "Yes." And I was standing next to the kid, and he said, "What do you see?" I said, "I see tank tracks." "Well, that's what I wanted to hear. Which way is it going?" "Well, you see, it come down this hill here, made a turn it went up through here." "How do you know it didn't come from over here and went up the hill?" I said, "I know it went up the hill because it throwed the dirt back this way. That means he's climbing." "Now that's it. That's what we want to hear." And he went running up the little embankment there so he could get a better look up the railroad tracks, because the tank had went alongside of the railroad tracks. And the kids all run up there by him. I stayed by the truck. I had been in combat before and I knew not to get too excited about that kind of stuff and don't run into somethi

My War Awards
  • American Campaign Medal - WW II
  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • Bronze Star Medal
  • Combat Infantry Badge (With a bronze star because of World War II and Korean War service.)
  • European - African - Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (With three bronze stars for Po Valley, Rome, Arno.)
  • Korean Service Medal
  • Prisoner of War Medal
  • United Nations (UN) Korean Service Medal
  • World War II Army of Occupation Service Medal
  • World War II Victory Medal
My War Pictures
Click on the pictures to enlarge.
        
  Carving of POWs sleeping in North Korean camps. This was carved by Carl Cossin from one piece of wood. Notice there are no blankets, no beds, no pillows, or any other semblance of humane treatment. Carving of POWs sleeping in North Korean camps. This was carved by Carl Cossin from one piece of wood. Notice there are no blankets, no beds, no pillows, or any other semblance of humane treatment. Carl after he was caught by the North Korean soldiers after he had escaped a firing squad. Carl made it nine days before being captured near Chochiwon. Carl after he was caught by the North Korean soldiers after he had escaped a firing squad. Carl made it nine days before being captured near Chochiwon. Artifacts that Carl brought back in his foot locker from World War 2. Artifacts that Carl brought back in his foot locker from World War 2.
  Riva Ridge mountain in Italy was where the German's were heavily dug in and the 10th Mountain Division, 85th and 86th Regiment had to take them out. Notice the sheer cliff of Riva Ridge. Riva Ridge mountain in Italy was where the German's were heavily dug in and the 10th Mountain Division, 85th and 86th Regiment had to take them out. Notice the sheer cliff of Riva Ridge. Carl was in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. After leaving the Airborne regiment he trained at Camp Hale, Colorado before serving in Italy until the war ended. Carl was in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. After leaving the Airborne regiment he trained at Camp Hale, Colorado before serving in Italy until the war ended. Carl was part of the elite ski trooper regiment of World War II. Before the 10th Mountain Division the United States did not have any cold weather soldiers and all training was done in the warm south. Carl was part of the elite ski trooper regiment of World War II. Before the 10th Mountain Division the United States did not have any cold weather soldiers and all training was done in the warm south.
  10th Mountain Division World War II Uniform worn by Carl in Italy. Picture was taken at Motts Military Museum, Inc. 10th Mountain Division World War II Uniform worn by Carl in Italy. Picture was taken at Motts Military Museum, Inc. Carl Cossin at the age of 87 sitting in front of his Korean War exhibit at Motts Military Museum, Groveport, Ohio. Carl Cossin at the age of 87 sitting in front of his Korean War exhibit at Motts Military Museum, Groveport, Ohio. 24th Infantry Division patch. When Carl was sent into action in the Korean War he was assigned to the 24th. The 24th Infantry was the first fight in the Korean War and first to serve under the United Nations. 24th Infantry Division patch. When Carl was sent into action in the Korean War he was assigned to the 24th. The 24th Infantry was the first fight in the Korean War and first to serve under the United Nations.
  Combat Infantry Badge. Notice one has a star in the wreath, this stands means that Carl was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge because he saw direct fire in two wars. This is very rare. Combat Infantry Badge. Notice one has a star in the wreath, this stands means that Carl was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge because he saw direct fire in two wars. This is very rare. Boots worn by the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. Boots worn by the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. Camp Hale, Colorado training for the 10th Mountain Division in World War 2. The division was trained in skiing, climbing, and cold weather survival. Camp Hale, Colorado training for the 10th Mountain Division in World War 2. The division was trained in skiing, climbing, and cold weather survival.
  North Korean soldiers are watching their captain test an American POW. If the prisoner makes a sound or moves they will be shot. If the soldier does not move then they will live. North Korean soldiers are watching their captain test an American POW. If the prisoner makes a sound or moves they will be shot. If the soldier does not move then they will live. When Carl re-enlisted for Japan occupation service after World War II, he was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division for two years. When Carl re-enlisted for Japan occupation service after World War II, he was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division for two years. Drawing Carl made of Camp Mampo. One can see the burial site where Carl has to help bury 400 of his fellow soldiers who were killed or died as the hands of the North Koreans. Drawing Carl made of Camp Mampo. One can see the burial site where Carl has to help bury 400 of his fellow soldiers who were killed or died as the hands of the North Koreans.
  Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division in the paper. Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division in the paper. Carl Cossin with his billeted family in Italy. Left Rosa, Alfrado, Tonking, Cossin, and Vittorio in front. Carl Cossin with his billeted family in Italy. Left Rosa, Alfrado, Tonking, Cossin, and Vittorio in front. Carl Cossin with this three boys after he was released from North Korea. Carl Cossin with this three boys after he was released from North Korea.
  Climbers of the 10th Mountain Division scaling a mountain in Italy. Notice the straight arms and no ropes being used by the free climber in order to scale the mountain to lay down ropes for other climbers. Climbers of the 10th Mountain Division scaling a mountain in Italy. Notice the straight arms and no ropes being used by the free climber in order to scale the mountain to lay down ropes for other climbers. Carl V Cossin picture when he re-enlisted in 1948. Carl V Cossin picture when he re-enlisted in 1948. North Korean tiger death march of captured American Prisoners of War to the camps. North Korean tiger death march of captured American Prisoners of War to the camps.
  Artifacts made by Carl while he was in the POW camp. Some served practical needs like a spoon, rounded knife, fishing items and chop sticks while others kept Carl's mind off his current situation. Artifacts made by Carl while he was in the POW camp. Some served practical needs like a spoon, rounded knife, fishing items and chop sticks while others kept Carl's mind off his current situation. Carl had to bury his fellow POW's who died because of murder, hunger, wounds, and freezing to death. Carl had to bury his fellow POW's who died because of murder, hunger, wounds, and freezing to death. Carl in Italy. Carl in Italy.
  Chunggangjin and Hanjangnee North Korean Death Camps which Carl stayed as a POW. Chunggangjin and Hanjangnee North Korean Death Camps which Carl stayed as a POW. Three or four American Prisoners of War would die every night. Three or four American Prisoners of War would die every night. Freedom photo of Carl Cossin front right after being released in Inchon, South Korea. Freedom photo of Carl Cossin front right after being released in Inchon, South Korea.
  Six POW's with bad feet thought they were going to the hospital for treatment but were shot in the head by North Koreans. Six POW's with bad feet thought they were going to the hospital for treatment but were shot in the head by North Koreans. Taken after Carl V. Cossin, Cermillus H Duty, and Roger L. Shaw at their release in Freedom Village, Korea August 23, 1953. This was a camp that exchanged Korean and American POW's. Taken after Carl V. Cossin, Cermillus H Duty, and Roger L. Shaw at their release in Freedom Village, Korea August 23, 1953. This was a camp that exchanged Korean and American POW's. Hard labor the Chinese used at the Changsong POW Camp. American POW's had to carry 4 foot poles back and forth from one pile and back again for 12hrs a day. Hard labor the Chinese used at the Changsong POW Camp. American POW's had to carry 4 foot poles back and forth from one pile and back again for 12hrs a day.
  Chinese POW camps Changson and Pyoktong. Chinese POW camps Changson and Pyoktong. 10th Mountain Division on patrol in Italy during World War II. 10th Mountain Division on patrol in Italy during World War II. Carl is a member of POW Ohio Chapter 1. Carl is a member of POW Ohio Chapter 1.
  World War 2 military uniform worn by Carl Cossin. World War 2 military uniform worn by Carl Cossin. Carl was a member of the very first Airborne Parachute Regiment in 1942. Carl was a member of the very first Airborne Parachute Regiment in 1942. Carl drew a picture of himself as he looked while being a prisoner of war in Korea. Carl drew a picture of himself as he looked while being a prisoner of war in Korea.
  Picture of Carl at home before going overseas to Italy with the 10th Mountain Division. Picture of Carl at home before going overseas to Italy with the 10th Mountain Division. Carl before he went off to fight the Germans in Italy. Carl before he went off to fight the Germans in Italy. Carl was taken as a Prisoner of War during his first day of battle during the Korean War July 6, 1950. The 9 would face the firing squad while Carl and his friend escaped from being killed. Carl was taken as a Prisoner of War during his first day of battle during the Korean War July 6, 1950. The 9 would face the firing squad while Carl and his friend escaped from being killed.
  North Korean's would torture POW's by pouring cold water on their bare backs in the middle of winter in order to try and get them to confess to offences. North Korean's would torture POW's by pouring cold water on their bare backs in the middle of winter in order to try and get them to confess to offences.

My War Videos
Click play button near the bottom left of image to watch the video.
Carl Cossin and nine other men face a firing squad. Being one of 9 people in a firing squad, 7 people have been killed in front of you, how does one escape?



Taking out a T34 Soviet tank in the Korean War. Want to know how to take out a tank if you are just an infantry man?



Carl experiences a German bayonet charge in World War II with the 10th Mountain Division. How does a real soldier take a bayonet charge? Does he shoot the enemy with his M1 Garand or does it take it like man?



Carl Cossin earned two Combat Infantry Badges Korean War POW and World War II. Carl was in the first parachute regiment, remember band of brothers? The first mountain division and tortured for three years as a POW in North Korea.



Carl is fired upon by a German sniper while scouting in World War II. Part of the eliminate 10th Mountain Division, Carl is lead scout in the Mountains of Italy against the elite German soliders.