Monday, May 28, 2018

A local hero to recall on Memorial Day

Somehow I missed this local news article about two years ago on the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.  Yesterday, however, I met the gentleman who was the subject of that piece, Mr. Ralph Ticcioni of New Berlin, Wisconsin. (Disclosure: Ralph is Uncle to one of my brothers-in-law).  

French Legion of Honour recipient, Ralph Ticcioni
John Maddente photo
I couldn't have been more surprised to discover his story.  As I listened to the 95 year old veteran speak, I marveled at his deep humility.  As mentioned, the details of his D-Day jump with the 82nd Airborne Division (and subsequent trip back to Normandy 72 years later) is told in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article by Meg Jones.  

As a paratrooper that fateful day, Ralph along with thousands of his comrades were dropped behind enemy lines.  Unlike his comrades, he landed smack onto a farm rooftop in Cherbourg, France whereupon he had to cut himself loose from his own parachute which was entangled on a weather vane.  Some history readers and viewers of the movie, Saving Private Ryan will recall that Cherbourg was a location of critical importance during the invasion.  

Speaking of the movie, Ralph told me that when he viewed the first twenty minutes; he thought he was watching an actual news reel of the event.  (Other D-Day veterans have expressed a similar reaction to that film segment).   

Ralph could recall the gear he carried that day, including the amount of ammunition and all the weapons he was issued which included a sidearm (.45 caliber semiautomatic pistol), several hand grenades and a Thompson sub-machine gun (which was swapped for an M1 Carbine rifle after paratroopers reunited with American supply units).  

So pleased to have met this man yesterday.  To all like him, living or not, I say thank you for defending freedom and God bless you.