IN HONOR OF MR. PETE MANETTO'S SERVICE TO OUR NATION DURING D-DAY 1945 -- (Extensions of Remarks - November 18, 2004)
Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, Pete Manetto served in 1st Signal Company, 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One during the D-Day invasion (Red One). He shares his D-Day memories for the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD:
I remember the stormy sea at 0600, as I climbed down the rope ladder of the U.S.S. Chase. I struggled with my balance nearly falling into the water, but managed to land in the landing craft. The sight of the armada on that morning was one of the most impressive, that I could recall. I turned and caught the sight of a nervous expression on the face of the coxswain as he pushed away from the beach. Shortly after this the craft was hit with enemy fire.
There we were on the beach with no one in control of us. We were met with the sight of rows of dead GIs; among them was a member of the MP, who I remember being very jovial the night before. There were many who were wounded, and the scene of the beach caused fear to appear on the faces of many of my acquaintances. I cannot remember being fired upon at this point, but remember one of my company fellows, named Bush, going into the water to retrieve some valuable equipment.
It was around noon when BG Andrews of the 5th Artillery was passing the silent 88mm emplacement. The General was forced to take shelter with a couple of GIs and myself, who were attached to the 36th infantry unit. As the enemy fire rained down on our position, SGT Tate, our wire chief sergeant, spotted us and approached our position. We were lying in front of our fox trench hole, while SGT Tate was providing us with news, encouragement, and instructions. Sergeant Tate was not able to finish, because a tremendous, noisy, whirlwind came upon us. When I was able to recover, I noticed SGT Tate on the ground in agony, after receiving a wound just below the shoulder. We called for medics and in minutes SGT Tate was taken away. This was the last time I saw SGT Tate during the war.
Shortly after this I was ordered to run my assault wire to the Juno or English beach to link up with the infantry. Along my way I encountered more realities of the battle, I saw a wounded pathfinder officer who was comatose, and being cared for by two GIs. I continued to move down the beach. About a mile from the pathfinder officer, I came across two medics who were drained mentally. They requested any information that I could offer them to help. The next time I saw these men was on my return trip after completing my assignment. They were victims of an apparent mortar attack, which I surely would have been part of if I had stayed much longer than I had. When I returned, I learned that headquarters was up a hill. As I climbed the hill, the first line of walking wounded was descending the hill. I saw wounds of all sorts, from wounded arms and legs, to those who suffered serious eye injuries. As I approached the command post two more sights served as educating reminders: two GIs were laid on the ground facing skyward. One of them was missing the middle of his torso, the other was beheaded.
Once I completed the setup of the communication line, I was given the first accumulation of information that was obtained from captured prisoners. After giving this information to the general officer, I was chastised for my lack of protocol for saluting a superior, which was a great hazard, because of possible snipers, and observing enemy intelligence. All that day and night I felt as though I was in a dwarfed position, as we continued to troubleshoot problems with the telecommunication lines. COL Picket's command post was to my left. Colonel Picket was sitting on the ground gathering and relaying information on the failed landing of amphibious vehicles to the high seas. As we sat on the ground working on the gathered information, we heard the sound of oncoming planes. The famous duo of German planes came over the horizon, and began to strafe our position. I hugged the ground as bullets hit the ground near me, but thankfully far enough away. Besides the ammunition from the German aircraft, we were in danger of being hit from our own anti-aircraft ammunition, because we were aiming at the low flying planes.
This was my true baptism of fire. I was a real GI by June 7th 1944. In retrospect, these 24 hours were to make me a mature GI! June 6th 1944, what a memory.