I wrote an email report on day 5 and
somehow it didn't save as I was updating it as I traveled,
and so I am back-filling this missing and last dispatch
about our historic military pilgrimage and filing
it as I am flying over the Yukon and part of what
is the Elias-Wrangell national park, one of the largest
in the US. I flew today (May 27) from Rome to Frankfurt
and then to Whitehorse, Yukon on the way to Anchorage
to then head back East to get back to Seattle (long
I have flown or cruised to Alaska now
for the 44th time but have never flown this route
and am just in awe of the rugged beauty zipping by
below me: tall, steep snow covered snow peaks, massive
glaciers and vast unmarked and unspoiled snow fields
between mountains. It’s summer in Whitehorse,
as we had to disembark the 767, with all hand luggage,
for almost any hour to keep the Canadian authorities
happy, and then re-board. It was sunny and very pleasant
to wait outside and talk about hiking with the friendly
Yet, you could hardly tell it was summer
higher up in the mountains as we flew over them. Then
a few specks of that deep blue glacier ice began to
appear and then tortoise color of pooling glacial
water evidencing that summer is having some impact
high up in the Alaska wilderness; then giving way
to lakes and the green valleys of the Chugach Range
as the plane approached Anchorage.
I quickly cleared customs in Anchorage
and caught an early flight to Seattle. Anchorage
was still brown when I left 2 weeks ago and has now
turned green at last after late and
A rather routine and familiar ending
to a rather unique and consciousness expanding trip
abroad. It was filled with many wonderful sights and
sounds, created and cemented new contacts and bonds
that should last another generation or two. It paved
the way for more communication and collaboration to
keep us connected to our colorful history and to keep
the legacy of the Fabulous Fifty-Seventh alive.
It made me proud to be an American and to be a son
of a soldier that was on the First Air Echelon to
North Africa and was among the “First in the
Bounjourno and happy Memorial Day.
Our 57th FG contingency has grouped
for a mid-morning breakfast at Camp Darby at the Ciasa
De Gahja Eatery -- nothing fancy, or very fast --
typical American foods at reasonable prices.
We shopped at a PX and commissary for
batteries...then on to Pisa to the Field of Miracles
(Campo dei Miracoles) which contains an awesome cathedral
(Duomo) and Baptistery in addition to the more famous
Leaning Tower (Torre Pendente). Since I am taking
a train to Rome this afternoon to catch a plane home
tomorrow, we didn't have time to climb the Tower,
which have reserved times and a 15€ price tag.
Instead we paid 2€ each just to visit the Duomo,
which is totally impressive in it's own right, even
if the Torre gets more attention, because of it's
engineering defect, which as it has turned out has
become it's famous aspect. One wonders how well known
it would be if the tower stood straight up?
I was dropped off at the Pisa Centrale
Treno Stazione by J.C. Hare (driving the van) and
have left the group after a very eventful and experience
filled journey. I am at a McDonald's enjoying a beer,
waiting the 5pm train to Rome where I will meet Peppe
who will take me to the Rome Airport Hotel for my
flight home tomorrow.
Our friends here have shown us tremendous
hospitality and opened their doors wide for us. We
will stay in touch, see them at 57th FG reunions and
hopefully return someday. Maybe when the USS Corsica
We got lots of TV and print coverage
-- twice on TV and three times in the newspapers.
Yesterday the Corse-Matin covered our event at the
college (where the Alto runway used to be).
We have been tremendously blessed and
are very grateful to have experienced it all!
Hopefully for all of us, the remaining
day will just been routine traveling: dragging luggage
around, using up our local currency (Euro's), when
won't be hard to do, and catching trains, planes and
Unless it something is worthy of writing,
I will sign off and say arrivederci!
Today we had breakfast, packed up, checked
out, stored our luggage while we had some free time
to explore Bastia, shop the local Sunday AM flea market
on the Place de St. Nicholas for last minute gifts
and souvenirs, or another outdoor market near the
large church which had a 10AM mass which sold fresh
fruits and vegetables and the McDonnell's got some
Chevre fromage that we enjoyed onboard the ship/ferry
to Livorno. I bought Carol (my wife) some earrings
made of a special shell material (“eyes of St.
Lucia) that I have never seen before. It proved to
be the most appreciated souvenir that I gave her.
I also bought her some loose cabochons so she could
make her own designs as she is a accomplished jewelry
A convoy of three vehicles and our Corsican
friends (Jean-Michel, Denise and husband and Christina
got us to the port and helped get us and our gear
onto the ship. We boarded rather uneventfully this
time and got situated in the same area on the Moby
Vincent as we did going to Bastia the first time.
Our friends waited and waved from the pier until out
of sight as we were up on the upper observation deck.
We have been given such hospitality and friendship
that it is hard to overstate. We will miss them and
hope to return again. We will likely see a Corsica
contingency next at the 2009 reunion in Windsor Locks,
After some did a little napping Dave,
JC, Jo and I did some planning on the ship for the
Branson reunion coming up in late Sept.
I was able to change our 2 car reservations
for one 9 passenger Fiat Ducato van (like we had initially
in Italy). That took a long time to arrange, pick
up and check out.
With all of us and a couple at a service
station pitching in, we found ourselves at Camp Darby
which was not marked with any signage. It was at if
they wished to keep it somewhat a secret.
It is a U.S. Military base resort on
a NATO base, but it is not a NATO operation. We had
a big problem: it is only available to active service
or retired US military personnel and up to 4 guests
-- and we are a group of seven with only one retired
member among us. We were escorted to the MP office
and it took a lot finagling to get permission to be
on the base. Eventually, we got the clearance and
they let all of us stay. We were able to get to a
set of lockboxes and retrieved our cabins assignments
and keys and got into our rooms and then gathered
up to go out to dinner at a Pizzeria in Trineria on
That lasted until 12:30am.
Tomorrow: to the Leaning Tower of Pisa
and the Field of Dreams. I will take a train back
to Rome (and to Seattle via Frankfurt, Whitehorse,
and Anchorage) and the rest will stay one more day
and fly out of Pisa to JFK via Madrid.
…with the 57th FIGHTER GROUP in
Don Everly Smith
Our first stop today was a reception
with the Mayor and Town Council of
Villa-di-Pietrabugno, the village of 3,000 people
where Jean-Michel lives at 900' above sea level overlooking
the harbor town of Bastia. They have a great view.
We had the meeting in the council quarters
with impassioned speeches. Two Corsican World War
II army veterans were also there. One Infantry man
named Rossi trained in North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia)
and fought in France and Germany: St Tropez, Marsailles,
Leon, Dijon…all the way to Paris. We had a champagne
reception as well.
Finally dinner was back at Le Zephyr
where we felt very welcomed and were well fed. Jean-Michel
joined us and Jean-Marie, his wife and son, Jean-Etienne.
Bonjour! Today the 57th moves out for
a reconnaissance operation at Alto. The area where
FG were based in World War II and flew their missions
into Italy during operation
Strangle, cutting the Axis supply lines for Southern
and Central Italy.
Later, they also flew into Southern
France and in the Genoa area. The town is Folelli
and the area where the Alto runway was, is now a college
(actually a public school), Le College du Casinca.
There is an active movement to rename the school "Alto"
to commemorate the 57th FIGHTER GROUP.
Alto (named after the Alto river --
more like a stream that ran along the old airfield),
where the 57th FG was stationed, was one of 17 airbases
stretching one after another up and down mainly the
east coast of Corsica. It was so concentrated, that
is got the nick name of USS Corsica. They flew P-47
"Thunderbolts", P-38 "Lightenings"
and B-20 and B-25 "Mitchell" Bombers. The
makeshift airfields couldn’t handle heavier
A few miles out of Bastia, we pulled
and to our amazement, there was a World War II US.
Willis jeep and driver in full US uniform (I recognized
him as the owner of the Rancho Bar from last night),
then another vintage Jeep joined in , then a larger
personnel carrier, then a double axle army truck.
Wow, we are now a convoy of about 6-7 World War II
military vehicles converging on Alto. Picking up more
and more along the way, I rode in the large double
axle truck which was numbered with "Texas Squadron
3-DI", which is appropriate for me (being from
Texas), next to a driver that was dressed in a Khaki
general uniform. He raised the front window for the
fresh air experience which felt great until a bee
flew into me, striking and stinging me on the neck.
Not all that bad of a sting and still worth the experience!
Our World War II convoy arrived with
sirens blaring into an open courtyard with the entire
school waiting for us, 6-8 retired French Air Force
Officers in white uniforms, press, TV journalists
and cameras, and dignitaries. Jim Hare seemed to be
a star attraction. His picture (now & then) was
published in the local weekly newspaper, “La
Corse -- Votre Hebdo", a day or two before we
arrived, so they knew his story and recognized him
first. The newspaper spread covered all of two pages
and also included a picture of Jim's "Wicked
After milling about with the 3 pilots
being interviewed and students practicing their English
on those of us in the entourage, we moved inside for
a ceremony in front of the 57th FG plaque dedicated
on the first historic return of a contingency of the
Fabulous 57th Fighter Group in 1998. Speeches were
given by the principle, teachers and Dave Hutton,
our group commander. A large flower wreath was presented
and laid below the plaque to honor the fallen heroes.
We then visited the computer lab where
another new plaque was presented to commemorate this
2nd historic return of the 57th that was made in the
computer lab by the students on CAD-CAM and laser
equipment. They gave us small laser cut clear plastic
key chains in the shape of the island of Corsica as
After refreshments, we had a raising
of the flags with national anthems next to the Jeeps,
a student reading Wayne Dobbs poem, "First in
the Blue" from the definitive book -- "the
Fabulous 57th Fighter Group". They even sounded
an authentic air raid siren. More acknowledgements
and then we said our good bye's and were whisked off
in Jeeps (I was in a Willis now) to a Restaurant just
up the beach from Alto for another unending feast
of about 6 courses of delicious local cuisine and
wines. This banquet was attended by all of those in
vintage uniforms and driving the military vehicles,
and our expanding circle of friends which now call
The whole series of events were very
heart warming and moving. Our coming to Corsica meant
so much to Corsican friends, that it is hard to describe.
We were all very appreciative of each other.
The TV station aired their coverage
of the event at 7pm, for about 5 minutes.
Back at the Hotel Posta Vecchia, we
siesta'd for a while, reconnoitered, and the 7 of
us and Jean-Michel Casanova, enjoyed another fine
meal at Le Zephyr, dining partially al fresco.
Tomorrow -- we meet the mayor.
From Bastia, Corsica, goodnight!
here for a link to lots more photos of the celebrations
going on at the college!
Corsica is any absolutely gorgeous --
a well kept secret from most Americans -- a rocky
island with a 9,000' peak. The city of Bastia is on
the NE coast in the section of the Island known as
CapCorse (or the head of Corsica) and is the largest
port. Wandering through the narrow streets and alleys
produces endless opportunities for snapping pictures.
I ran out of memory yesterday and went out and bought
another 2GB's of SD card. That brings me up to 7GB's
for this trip. More than I expected!
We are on a 3 CAR convoy to a Monastery
of the order of St. John where there is an American
monk from Michigan with whom we have any appt. at
11:30am. It is now 11:30 and we aren’t there
yet. It is up in the mountains on the west side of
the island at Carbara, near the town of I'lle-Rousse
(“red island”). The scenery is beautifully
adorned with various flowers and along the road with
what appears to be bright yellow Scotch Broom.
We just made the coast -- gorgeous!
The water is such a deep turquoise azure blue.
The movie, The Longest Day (about D-Day), was filmed
just north of here at a long beach -- Solace (on map
look for Punto di Solace).
Convent Saint Dominque of Corbara
We are now driving out of I'lle Roussa after a wonderful
visit at the convent hosted by the Prier -- Pere John
Michael Paul, a wonderful man and dedicated priest
from Michigan and most impressive in many ways. He
gave us a complete tour of the cloister, the refractory
(where we enjoyed a delicious lunch) and tour of the
church, library and room where the vestments and items
used in masses and services are stored and put on.
He introduced us to there collection of resident land
turtles in the cetral tgarden of the cloister. It
is a lovely setting which you can confirm, if you
like, by going to the website of the order of St Jean:
We returned via a more northern route
along the coast any toured through an area known as
"Desert des Agriates" a more arid area of
striking geological and scenic interest, passing by
the coast town of St. Florent, before heading inland
to cross over to Bastia. Along the way we had great
view of the mountainous "Cap Corse" to the
We stopped in Patrimonio for some wine
tasting at the Clos Marfisi winery and enjoyed a Muscat
and a red ("Le Niellucciu"). I picked up
a red to bring home.
Back in Bastia we had a private reception/dinner
at Rancho Bar and took over the place.
There was Jean-Michel Casanova, Dominque Taddei (wrote
the book: USS Corsica -- who is working on USS Corsica/Fighter
Squadron Edition), both an Air France and Corsica
Airways pilot, a man -- Jean-Marie that restores World
War II Jeeps and runs the restaurant, and his darling
little boy, Jean-Etienne, and our lovely lady friends:
Christine Murati and Denise Choley, among others.
After the dinner, JC and I went out
for a last cocktail and discussed 2nd generation plans
for an outreach to the 2nd and third generations at
the reunions going forward.
It is past midnight now--good night
and good luck!
We had to get up very early (5:15am
for me) to pack out of the Grand Bastiani Hotel, meet
at 6:30am, load up and head out to Livorno (Italy)
to catch the ferry ship (Moby Vincent) to Bastia,
Corsica at 9am.
We didn't quite pull it off within the
time we had planned, and didn't get off until after
7am. Peppe led the way to Livorno and then we had
to find the right pier, ship and way to get into the
ship, which was not all that clear, intuitive or easy.
We got there at about 8:55AM and the rush to get everyone
and everyone's things on board, two major pieces of
luggage (mine and Mac's) seemingly disappeared. The
sailors hustled us along and up the elevators to the
passenger decks, as they don't allow any to stay in
the vehicles in the garage level where we walked on.
The crew insisted that all of the luggage was up in
the lounge, which wasn't consistent with what I was
seeing, as I saw no crew toting anyone’s luggage
My inquiry at the information desk was
totally non-productive, partially because of my very
limited Italian and his limited English and their
rules. I asked to go back down into the garage to
look for the baggage and he refused as that was the
rule. I went scurrying all over the ship to see if
I could spot them anywhere else and tried every door
that wasn't for ship personnel only. Eventually, I
found a door that wasn't quite shut or locked that
opened right into the garage area in the front section
of the boat. I squeezed myself around the deck tightly
filled with cars, buses and trucks towards the area
where we walked on and I looked around -- no luggage.
I could see an open area past the trucks on the rear
port side of the vessel to the left of where we boarded
and decided to explore that side. After a bit more
squeezing around trucks I got to the other side and
around the other side of the dividing median -- there
I spotted our two bags. I got them and carried them
up as far as I could go up a few flights of stairs
to where I could see into the passenger deck but the
door was locked. Thankfully Mac was scouting around
the floor and I got his attention and he opened the
door for me. That was a close call and a big relief
for me and Mac. Mac and Ronnie were going to be in
NYC for a few days after the group trip and would
have been in trouble without his full wardrobe.
The cruise to the Island of Corsica
took about four hours. Corsica is a very beautiful
rugged and mountainous island. We were met by our
Corsicans friends: Jean-Michel Casanova, Christine
Murati and Denise Choley (sisters), Dominque Taddei
(author and researcher) and Louis-Philip.
They got clearance to drive right up
to the bow of the ship where we disembarked and took
us to our Hotel, the Hotel Posta Vecchia, operated
by a friend of Jean-Michel -- Frederic Vincent. After
checking in, Mac, JC and I think Rabbit and I walked
over to a park cafe on La Place' du St. Nicholas and
enjoyed a cold beer looking out over the Place towards
the harbor and the cruise ships. We missed the busy
summer season, but it is still a busy place and will
keep ramping up as the season heats up. The weather
has been just fantastic and even comfortable at night
with light clothing on most nights, with just a few
hours of light rain,
JC and I did some shopping for more
memory cards for our hungry digital cameras. I brought
5 Gigs of SD cards and I was out of memory already.
We found a supermarket, Geant Casino, in the newer
section north of town that had the SD cards reasonably
priced among other things.
I found the place so scenic that I went
shutter happy all around town especially on the narrow
streets until time for dinner. Unfortunately, I lost
the pictures of that and the Corbara Convent (day
We all met Jean-Michel and Dominque
later on le Place and walked up a few blocks to a
restaurant and had a great meal in the upper room.
JC and I resumed our nightly rounds to get a night
cap of Cap Corse (an exclusive Corsica aperitif) and
or a beer.
Tomorrow: the Convent of St. Dominque
It has been raining most on the AM.
The fields are verdant green during the spring. I
was told about the big flood of 1944 that sent the
forces to higher ground and flooded the city and medieval
walled city up to 10 ft. It happened again in 1966.
Afterwards, they built dikes to prevent future flooding.
We all rode in the (9 passenger van
heading to the air museum overlooking Lake Braciano
in Vigna di Valle. This was a first rate air museum,
that some said rivaled the Smithsonian NASM in Washington,
It focused on the history of Italian
military aviation especially the famous 1933 flight
of 24 amphibious torpedo bombers to the Chicago world
fair, led by Italo Balbo. It showed many US planes
Most of us had no idea of the magnitude
of the Italy's contribution to the development of
We also got to eat in the base mess
Tonight we pack up for a 6AM departure
to catch a ferry for Corsica.
Guys with our "trainer" Gabriele
Commander, Colonel Nuzzo and 57th FG Pilots Harold McDonnell, James Hare, Dave Hutton
"Rabbit" take the last brief
before take off from Grosseto Airport.... Runaway
03 ( notice the hills in the background, Moscona hills
just on the right).
Ready to Take off.
Old Pilots....New plane.
At the Historic Air Museum at the Vigna
di Valle, on Lago di Bracciano 30 km NW of Rome, we
the Commander of the Airport: Gianni Amadio and the
chief of the Historic Museum: Massimo Mondini. Here
Marco delivers model of Capt. Paul Carll's 57th FG,
64th FS P-47 Razorback to the Museum.
just explaining..... how to change the
One of the first Jet Plane , CAMPINI
CAPRONI CC1 1940 (remind me the Aviator Movie).
FIAT CR-42 " Falco" 1938.
FIAT CR-42 " Falco" 1938.
MACCHI MC-200 1941.
MACCHI MC-200 1941.
MACCHI MC-200 1941.
MACCHI MC-202 1940.
MACCHI MC-202 1940.
SIAI S-79 "Sparviero" 1934.
FIAT G-55 "Centauro" 1942.
MACCHI MC-205 1942.
MACCHI MC-205 1942.
MACCHI MC-205 1942.
IMAM Ro. 37bis 1933 This was found out
in Afghanistan near Kabul in September 2006,
That plane was sell to Afghanistan air force in 1938,
this is the only exemplar after WWII.
More pieces of that plane found in a desert, so can
be restoring soon.
You can recognize the plane down side
, and FIAT G 212 cargo plane after the war 1949.
We are touring the Grosseto Air Base
and getting lots of info about the history of the
air base and about the "Typhoon" EF2000
Eurofighter. They are very proud of it and have been
flying it since 2004. They flew the F-104 for 40 yrs
-- from 1963 to 2003. The US stopped flying the F-104's
in 1963. That was a long run for that bird! We got
right up very close to one that was in a maintenance
hangar. We are being treated very special to have
We met the base commander and many squadron
commanders. We went to flight simulator and watched
Jim "Rabbit" Hare do a mock flight in the
high-tech EF-2000 Eurofighter. It was fun to watch.
We are now enjoying a lunch, ‘pranzo’
in Italian, in the mess hall. Pasta, roasted beef
and navy beans….
We are enjoying so much here in Toscano
(the Tuscany region).
The Royal treatment we are receiving
in Italy is unbelievable and impressive! The 3 original
pilots are being received like returning liberators
and heros. They command amazing respect here.
Before leaving the airbase, we had a
parting reception with the Commander, Colonel Vicenzo
Nuzzo, and presented him two exquisitely detailed
model P-47's- Jim Hare’s “Wicked Wabbit”
(65 Squadron), and Bob Orcutt’s “Trudie
Jeanne” (66 Squadron), made by Mark O'Boyle
who's father flew A-20's (light 2 engine bombers)
out of Grosseto with the 47th Bomb Group at the same
time that the 57th FG flew. Mark was here about 2
yrs ago meeting Marco and Beppe who are our hosts,
tour guides and set up all of this for us. Mark, blazed
the trail for us on his trip. It is impressive how
much the local populace has documented and revered
what out fathers did here. Right down to missions,
pilots, plane, Locations of events, bldgs, dates....
They know a lot more about our World War II stay here
than most of those that were here. It is a precious
part of their history and an ongoing interest.
Back at the Grand Bastiani Hotel, Marco
took Rabbit, JC and I to a park up on one of the corners
of the medieval wall that looked across the street
to the building that Rabbit stayed in during the war
after he left the 65 Squadron to work in group ops.
The bldg is still there and looks the same -- as do
most buildings here. Also saw a park adjacent to the
wall where the GI's played softball and the sport
caught on. The Grosseto baseball team is one of the
best in Italy! The area now contains tennis courts.
After a short siesta (for me) after
a nice red birra in a bar out on the main piazza inside
the walled city, we drove out to another secret destination
at Marina di Grosseto to the Hotel Rosmarino where
Marco works as a chef in the summer. We had a banquet
of about 16 people, including Dr. Odorico Tonello,
and lovely wife from Ala. They sat next to me and
we struggled to communicate with our limited English
& Italian. Sometimes it was easier to write words.
The Dr. was eleven when he saw Moody hit the wall
in the Brenner Pass mission after catching ack-ack.
Sitting to my right was Christiana Ciacci,
whose father was James Bittle. She works in the tourist
bureau. We took a 2nd generation picture of Christiana,
JC (Hare), Marco & I.
Marco displayed a model of Paul Carll's
P-47 (64 Squadron) also made by Mark O'Boyle that
we are taking and presenting to the Museo Storico
Aeronautical Militare.@ Aeroporto Vigna di Valle today
right on the shore of Lake Braciano.
Marco created bill boards (we all were
given laminated full color copies) special for this
event advertising it as a World War II USO showing
featuring Zomba and his Junior Jazz combo. Zomba actually
performed for the airmen in World War II in Grosseto
at the USO as a local musician and singer. He still
sings well and has certifiable stage presence &
personality. He sang Volare' among many popular, during
the day, Italian and American song favorites. Amazing
that 64 yrs later that could take place.
It was a veritable feast -- about 10
courses, including wine, spumante, Espresso.... To
top it all off, they made us a cake with our "First
in the blue" insignia printed on the icing. They
did so many things to make it special.
Marco's father Fosco Tarsi, a great,
internationally known artist, was there and gave us
all a copy of a book that he wrote about the air war
and planes in the Grosseto area. He was born in 1924
and had a light hearted balcony exchange (food fight)
with the American pilots on the balcony throwing preserves
on him. He threw rocks back at them.
The news, TV, was there documenting
the event. Our meeting with the mayor was broadcast
a day or two ago. We might be on the news again.
The festivities lasted until almost
midnight. Lots on fun and strong connections were
made and lasting bonds.
From The Grosseto Paper, The Corriere
The main title says: War Memories. After
63 years Three American Pilots guest of the Major:
"It is so beautiful coming back." Click
here to read an online article from the Meremma
Marco the A & P Maintenance Man!
Now & Then Department: Control Tower, Grosseto
1944-1945 Call sign: "Outboard". Courtesy
"Tales From The Fighting Cock's Roost by Jimmie
Inside Control Tower Grosseto, 1944-45.
Courtesy 47th Bomb Group Picture Collection. Notice
the time is 9:15, and it is dark. Good chance talking
to 47th BG A-20 which flew there missions at night.
Or late P-47 from 57th FG. All analog here, nothing
Fosco "Zomba" Marchetti 1945
Let's go party!
The poster I have prepared for that
...I'll send you a copy.
We visited the memorial of the first
transatlantic Italian flight (1929 or 30) and the
historic Italian Airforce's 1933 flight of an entire
squadron of 24 amphibious planes all the way from
Piombino to the Chicago World's Fair (finishing up
with a grand parade in NYC).
That must have been quite a sight to
behold as they landed on Lake Michigan.
We had a great lunch at Ristorante Cacciatore
(the hunter) which is situated along the road that
the big Italian bicycle race passed. It goes all over
Italy -- very colorful.
Then we visited the estate of the Contessa
where the pilots and officers of the 65 Squadron stayed
while in Grosseto, on the oceanside around Castiglione
We had dinner at a small public house
up in an old hilltop medieval castle. The area is
The Hotel at which we are staying is
with in the wall of a medieval village of Grosseto.
It is a treat to just wander about and take in the
sights and sounds. People get out and circulate and
visit during the evenings.
The good Doctor, Odorico Tonello and
his wife from Ala in the Brenner Pass (Po Valley)
has been with us for two days. When he was an 11 year
old boy (ragazzo) He saw James Moody get hit by flak,
lose visibility and flew his P-47 into the mountain.
He was up close to the wreckage when his older brother
(or cousin was conscripted by the Axis army to help
pull Moody’s body out of the wreckage.
Today we were in the local Maremma (County)
newspaper. They covered the special ceremony with
the mayor honoring us at liberators. Our pictures
were published. We were also on the 7 o’clock
Villa at Castiglione della Pescaia.
Marco Tarsi on left. James Hare's son JC Hare, on right.
I include this picture taken by Jim
Hare during WWII of same villa pilots stayed at for
a few weeks. Jim said it was just a little to far
from the airfield, so they eventually moved into Grosseto
town. Thats the coast road at the bottom. Aircraft
is right over the coastline.
I took “il treno” from Roma
Termini Stazione to Pisa, passing through Civitavecchia,
Grosseto, Piombino, and Livorno; along the coast and
beautiful green countryside through Toscano. I caught
a bus ticket after missing the train to get from the
train station to the Pisa Airport. I met Peppe &
Marco in the airport and we got acquainted before
the Iberian airplane arrived (late). They rented us
a Fiat Ducato 9 passenger van and drove us to the
Hotel Grand Bastiani in Grosseto – just inside
the medieval wall to the city on Via Corse (because
it lines up (points) in the direction of Corsica.
We enjoyed a rather adventurous dinner
together inside the walled city at an eclectic wine
shop/restaurant that had an old fashioned bicycle
from the 1800’s parked in front.
The 57th has returned to Grosseto! Harold
McDonnell, wife Ronnie, Dave Hutton, wife Jo, Jim
Hare, and Rabbit Jr., Don Smith. Day 1 visit to City
Gentleman with the Tricolor Ribbon is the
"Major" of Grosseto.
Out to a Restorante to eat. And then
rest for next days activities...
This is catching on. This is such a
good time to be here -- between cool & hot and
before the summer heat & crowds.
I had a beer tonight in front of the
Parthenon (now sans the pagan gods) and ate pizza
on a back street trattoria out on the sidewalk and
met a nice German family and talked to them. I saw
a guy that looked a lot like pierce Brosnan at the
Parthenon bar--but I couldn't think of his name. What
a coincidence! Someone mentioned that they actually
saw Pierce Brosnan and wife in this area on a previous
I might burn out on the ruins and churches
eventually, but the evening strolling & dining
on the Piazzi -- I could do a lot of that!
I hung out in Piazza Navona, listening
to street musicians and checking out the artists.
I was so tired after all the Vatican
experience. I climbed the whole way up the Cupola
-- got exercise and saved 2 Euro for my efforts
I leave tomorrow AM for Pisa
Yes I am in Roma, for the last twenty
hours and until Friday AM when I take the train to
Pisa to meet the 57th FG contingency: Mac MacDonald
and wife, Dave and Jeri Hutton, Jim (Rabbit) Hare
and Son (J.C. “James Christopher”).
I took a gig of pics of beautiful sights and works
of art and met some nice people from
California. The weather is perfect!
This AM, I did the Coliseum, then the
Palatine hill and ruins of the Imperial palaces and
sights near the
Tonight, I did both the Dolce Vita Stroll and the
Night walk across Rome -- both recommended late day
activities in the Rick Steves book that Yolanda gave
me. Although I don't think he meant back to back on
the same night! We saw the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain,
Four Rivers Fountain, Parthenon, Piazza Navona, Campo
Fiori where we had lamb chops....
Not sleepy (it's 1am) but feet are tired
from walking for most of the last 14 hrs and probably
walking up to 6-7 miles or more.
Tomorrow I tour the Vatican St. Peter's
Basilica & the Vatican Museum.