Wreath laying ceremony honoring Italian World War II POWs buried at Fort Drum Cemetery


Wreath Laying Ceremony in Honor of WWII Italian POWs Buried at Fort Drum Cemetery | newzjunky

FORT DRUM, NY – Members of the Fort Drum community gathered at the Prisoners of War (POW) Cemetery Nov. 4 to lay a wreath at the grave of an Italian soldier, in honor of Italian Armed Forces Day and of National Unity Day.

During the ceremony, Col. James Zacchino Jr., Fort Drum garrison commander, spoke about Pvt. Rino Carlutti and Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Thomas McCort, Garrison Chaplain at Fort Drum, led the group in prayer. SPC. Steven Vought, a bugler with the 10th Mountain Division Band, performed “Il Silenzio”, the Italian Armed Forces version of “Taps”.

Fort Drum’s Cultural Resources team began laying a wreath at the burial site 10 years ago, until it became an official request from the Italian Embassy, ​​which provides the wreath for the ceremony.

“These graves are at Fort Drum, so it’s our responsibility to take care of them,” Zacchino said. “Just as it is equally important for us to honor those military personnel who died here, just as we would like our soldiers who died in other countries to be honored and commemorated.”

Pvt. Rino Carlutti was born on April 14, 1922 in S. Daniele del Friuli, Udine, to Giuseppina and Teodolinda Mengoli. Carlutti served in the Italian army, assigned to a logistics company during World War II. He was captured on May 11, 1943 in Tunisia. Carlutti joined dozens of Italian prisoners of war who were sent to an internment stockade at Pine Camp (now Fort Drum).

Carlutti, 22, was seriously injured in a car accident and died on October 17, 1944, at Sampson Naval Hospital near Seneca Lake. A second Italian soldier, Pvt. Renato Facchini, who died on June 27, 1944, in a drowning accident. Both soldiers were buried in the POW cemetery, but Facchini was exhumed from the cemetery on August 6, 1957, at the request of the family, and returned to Italy.

Attempts were made in the early 1970s to locate relatives of Carlutti, through the Italian Ambassador to the United States and Henry V. Cumoletti, court reporter at Camp Drum. Little is known about Carlutti, but there is a history of the POW camp established here nearly 80 years ago.

Prisoners of War at Pine Camp

During World War II, Pine Camp (now Fort Drum) was the site of an internment camp for German and Italian POWs.

Italian POWs were transported to Pine Camp from other internment camps across the country. They were organized into a temporary military unit with an Italian chain of command and assisted by American officers. POWs were tasked with various tasks to support the war effort.

“We know they were sent to the Adirondacks for logging, and they also picked vegetables and helped farmers during the harvest,” said Dr. Laurie Rush, Fort Drum’s cultural resources manager.

By all accounts, they were well treated – POWs received instructions in English and were sometimes allowed to leave their posts.

“Italian families were hosting Italian POWs in their homes, inviting them to dinner, and there was all kinds of interaction,” Rush said.

By May 1946, all POWs had left the area, but the remains of several deceased soldiers were buried in what is now known as the POW Cemetery. A second Italian soldier, Pvt. Renato Faccini, was exhumed from the POW cemetery and transported to Italy in August 1957.

In 1974, the Italian ambassador had attempted to locate Carlutti’s relatives, in response to a request from Henry V. Cumoletti. Cumoletti served as an assistant clerk and stenographer at Pine Camp and served as an interpreter for Italian prisoners of war. After the war, he was part of a team of court reporters at the early Nuremberg trials and later worked as a court reporter at the Watertown City Court.

Rush said she first laid a wreath at the grave in 2012 before it became an official request from the Italian Embassy to hold a wreath laying ceremony to coincide with Armed Forces Day Italian. November 4 is also National Unity Day.

The POW Cemetery is located outside the cantonment area on Route 26, adjacent to Sheepfold Cemetery.

For more information, visit https://fortdrum.isportsman.net/Cemeteries.aspx.


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