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Siena Mamayek

Kyana Garcia
A Triskaidekaphobia Tale
The life story of Mario Di Meo, a World War II veteran, may by understood as a
story but for him it is far from unrealistic Marty !as born on "uly #, $%&$ in the
providence of 'escara in Abru((i, Italy )e !as born to parents Maria Tiberi and Antonio
Di Meo, he !as the oldest of three children )is family immi*rated to America in $%&+
due to an ultimatum issued by ,enito Mussolini It !arned his family to -oin the .ascist
'arty or leave Italy )is family decided to leave and luckily, their e/tended relatives had
an apartment set up for them in ,oston At three years old, he is startin* a ne! life in
America
In hi*h school he attended ,oston 0n*lish, an all boys school, and in those days
students had to take an entrance e/am The school re1uired smart students, for it !as
believed that the unintelli*ent ones !ould hold the class back )is schools !ere very
serious about their academics and !hen studyin* a lan*ua*e you learned that lan*ua*e
fluently It !as unlike today2s curriculum, !here some students learn only bits and pieces
of the lan*ua*e and that is -ust enou*h to pass Marty2s primary lan*ua*e !as Italian, but
follo!in* his move to America, he became fluent in 0n*lish, German, .rench and 3atin
)e even kne! a little Spanish Marty !as dedicated to his studies and understood them
completely4 he !as an intelli*ent individual and picked up ne! thin*s 1uickly
At $5, Marty !as very interested in flyin* airplanes and eventually received his
student license ,y the a*e of &$, he entered World War II and !as interested in
becomin* a pilot, but !hen that did not !ork out he became a radio operator and *unner
)e entered in $%+& but did not *o into combat until $%++ Trainin* re1uired lon* days
and occasionally he !ould have Sundays off To be in the air force the soldiers had to
pass e/ams for aptitude and physical They !ere more concerned about the physical for
your eyesi*ht and hearin* In addition, si(e !as a matter for fittin* into the turrets 6nce
you are a member in the air force you train !ith others in the plane An en*ineer, radio
operator, si/ *unners, pilot, co7pilot, navi*ator and a bombardier !ere present !hen they
completed drills To*ether they learned emer*ency procedures, intercom communication
and the importance of each other2s -ob Marty !as a radio operator and durin* trainin*
learned ho! to !ork the e1uipment and use it durin* fli*ht As a radio operator, he had to
report his position back to head1uarters so they could in turn keep track of them )e !as
mostly in char*e of the communication
After the intense trainin* that he endured, and t!elve missions already bein*
complete, he !as very e/cited to have a three7day stand7do!n )o!ever, !hen a!akened
on the mornin* of .riday, 6ctober the $8
th
, at 8 am he !as told that he had to fly because
the flyin* cre! had *otten sick .ollo!in* the announcement, he attended a briefin* on
their mission They !ere headed to!ards 9ienna, the !orst tar*et in the 0uropean
Theater This is the start of his ironic triskaidekaphobic: story
This !as Marty2s $8
th
mission and his cre! !as placed in aircraft $8 The planes
assembled into s1uadrons over the Adriatic and prepared for takeoff 6nce in the air,
Marty2s plane une/pectedly had a leak from the *asoline tank This !as inopportune and
his plane had to return to the base !hile the others continued on their mission )is cre!
landed and !as transported to a nearby spare plane They !ere no! in plane $+ and had
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:Triskaidekaphobic7 fear of the number thirteen
to catch up to the front because they !ere cre! number t!o Since the others had already
assembled over the tar*et, they never cau*ht up As they tried to reunite !ith the
s1uadron, en*ine + !as shot out They re*ained stability and !ere able to drop some
bombs themselves, !hen en*ine 8 *ave out With all this happenin*, a shell from a $<<
mm !ent throu*h their ri*ht !in* =o! *asoline !as pourin* out, soakin* the cre! and
electrical e1uipment >ommunication had been lost up front and the tail men had been
in-ured severely With all these unfortunate events, Marty thou*ht this !as the end
Marty sa! a cre!member motion ?thumbs do!n2, !hich means *et out @i*ht then
he had a si*nificant decision to make, -ump out or *o do!n !ith the plane )e and the rest
of the cre! chose to -ump4 they strapped on their parachutes and hoped for the best They
free fell $&,AAA ft !ith their !hole lives flashin* before them !ith the an/iety of not
kno!in* if the chute !ould open )e landed successfully in a field and coincidently
landed $8 miles from the )un*arian boarder at $8BAA
.our other cre!members fell in that vicinity and !ere picked up by local farmers
It !as the citi(en2s -ob to report any enemy activity to the Gestapo The five of them
includin* Marty !ere brou*ht to a church overni*ht for interro*ation The ne/t ni*ht they
traveled by train to Wet(lar, Germany to the Interro*ation >enter of Airmen This !as
done because )itler considered airmen to be bar*ainin* chips durin* the !ar
When they took prisoners for interro*ation, it !as ama(in* ho! much they kne!
about them The German police kept ample records of their enemies If a soldier !as
cau*ht and his name matched !ith a record name, they instantly kne! their entire
back*round Durin* interro*ation, Marty !as called a spy because they kne! he spoke
more than one lan*ua*e It !as all a scare tactic 'risoners !ere also beat up and strip7
searched for secret files and codes 6nce interro*ation finished prisoners !ere sent to the
'risoner of War camps via cattle car at ni*ht
6ut of the $AA,AAA2s 'risoner of War >amps, Marty ended up in Stala* 3uft I9 in
northeastern Germany >onditions in the camp !ere harsh and uncomfortable .ood !as
rationed, both prisoners and *uards !ere fed poorly The prisoners tried to make the best
of the situations they !ere in and often played tricks on the *uards for amusement They
!ould steal the *uards2 possessions and hid them in random places 6ne day !hile Marty
!as outside his barracks:: an unkempt .rench man offered the prisoners ration tickets
and money In e/chan*e, the prisoners made him comfortable !ith ne! clothes With the
tickets, Marty brou*ht them to the *uard to trade in for some bread This !as an effective
!ay of obtainin* e/tra food, !hich he re*ularly shared !ith the *uard 6n the other hand,
some *uards !ere overly strict While Marty !as in the camp, he endured a sucker punch
from a cruel *uard Marty had his foot on a stool !hen he !as puttin* on his sock and out
of no!here4 the *uard came over to him and -ust punched him This !as unreasonable but
that !as the life for many soldiers in !ar
,y "anuary $%+< @ussia !as movin* German soldiers back !est This led to the
evacuation of many prisoner of !ar camps In the dead of !inter, Marty alon* !ith C,AAA
others !ere evacuated on foot via a march They !alked $< miles a day !ith inade1uate
clothin*, !hich led to many illnesses >lothes !ere seldom !ashed once a !eek, if at all
There !ere no hospitals around and no one !as able to help the sick As a result many
died on the -ourney and many !ere shot ri*ht there by the *uards It !as a lon* hard
-ourney but the troops fou*ht throu*h it As they marched throu*h the cities, the prisoners
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::,arracks7 sleepin* 1uarters
met many people alon* the !ay Marty traded a !omen a bar of soap for si/ e**s They
took !hat they could and kept their compensation safe for later use
Marty2s *roup also beat the system by usin* a radio Three members of his *roup
carried a radio in separate pieces When they !ent from city to city and slept outside,
they assembled the devise !hen the *uards !ere not lookin* Throu*h this, they !ere
able to *et a connection !ith 9,> 3ondon, a radio station They !ould listen to the
status of the !ar and standin* of the Allied troops
,y the end of their evacuation march !hich !as basically a death march 5AA out
of the C,AAA had died They had marched C5+ miles to )ambur*, Germany 3uckily, it
!as near the end of the !ar !hen they reached the city American troops !ere there to
liberate the prisoners of !ar It !as 1uite an e/perience for him to kno! that he !as no!
free It is a memory he !ill never for*et
3ife is not easy after !ar There is a lot physical and mental aspects that people
do not al!ays understand .or Marty, after bein* evacuated from his '6W camp he !as
sent to a hospital in =e! "ersey )e !as treated from an array of different medical issues
)e had developed a heart disease and had become partially deaf from his constant flyin*
The psycholo*ical part hit him ri*ht after he came home and he sa! everythin* in
retrospect While sleepin* at ni*ht he believed he !as still -umpin* out of an airplane as
!ell as fi*htin* to stay alive The psycholo*ical piece is somethin* that takes more time
to heal then a battle !ound It is harder to coupe !ith thin*s after bein* in somethin* as
devastatin* as !ar )o!ever, Marty did not !alk a!ay from the !ar !ithout a fe! battle
scars )e !as shot a couple times in the left le* as !ell as once in the rear Today these
scars are barely visible, althou*h Marty still remembers each of their stories These scars
are physical reminders of !hat he endured
The burdens of !ar hun* heavily on Marty2s shoulders, after comin* back home
from the !ar )e did not !ant to !orry his family !ith these burdens, so he refrained
from tellin* his e/periences in the !ar ,efore our intervie! !ith Marty, he had never
shared his !hole story !ith anyone else )is !ife, mother, father and nine kids never
kne! that part of his life Durin* our intervie! Marty said, DIt2s a private thin* and I
don2t !ant to propa*ate itE Since servin* in the !ar, Marty has accumulated a variety of
medals and citations for his involvement As a personal decision, he chooses not to !ear
or sho! them off Marty dislikes listenin* to other men2s encounters of !ar because they
1uickly become embellished to!ards their e*otistical self 0ven thou*h he chooses not to
!ear his medals like most of the other veterans, he !orked hard for everythin* that he
has accomplished )e sees these medals as somethin* that makes you look like a hero he
does not believe in that Despite the fact that he does not !ear his medals, every year on
6ctober $8
th
he takes out his German do* ta*, from his days in the '6W camps This is
his ritual to remember !hat he !ent throu*h but also !hat he survived It is evident that
he !ent throu*h a lot in the early years of his life @e*ardless of all the turmoil, he *ot
throu*h it and survived
Throu*hout all his e/perience in the !ar, many trivial matters of hi*h school
come back to mind The most insi*nificant sub-ects he learned, he put them in the back of
his head and did not think t!ice about ever usin* them a*ain ,ut Marty !as faced !ith
survival and at that point, he use anythin* and everythin* to survive In his earlier years
of hi*h school the smallest amount of kno!led*e he learned, ?Saved his tush2 Marty also
*ained kno!led*e about life in *eneral )e kne! !here he !as today and he kne! !here
he !as yesterday, but he never kne! !here he !ould be tomorro! )e -ust had to live
life to its fullest each day because he never kne! !hen it !ould be the end Marty also
reali(ed that everythin* happens for a reason 0very move he made !as si*nificant
Thou*h he !ent throu*h a lot in !ar it made him !ho he is today