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Memorial Day

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29 May 2017

That day they all happened to be in the kitchen of the second floor flat in the three-story building they had built on 19th Avenue. The door bell rang and Freddie's little sister Inez jumped up to run down the stairs to answer the door.

Freddie Bacigalupi. 1920-1944.

It was a man with a telegram.

Freddie's father read the telegram. Then he picked up his chair and threw it across the room. It shattered against the wall.

Staff Sergeant John F. Bacigalupi, Jr. had been killed in action in France.

Named for his father, the family called him by his middle name Freddie. He graduated from high school and worked as a warehouseman until he joined the Army as a private Nov. 19, 1941, just days before Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to the 9th Division, 60th Infantry, Company 1.

He used to fish a few coins out of his pocket so his little sister Inez and her cousin Bobbie could go to the movies. That's what he did the last time the two girls saw him.

He first saw action in the campaign along the northern shores of the African coast to keep the Allied supply line open in the Mediterranean Sea. The 60th seized the Kasba (Citadel) in early November 1942 earning the nickname Go Devils on their way across North Africa, defeating Rommel's German-Italian Army Group Africa.

They landed in Sicily near Enna on July 24, 1943 to support the 1st Infantry Division where, after a number of other engagements, they liberated Floresta and Basico.

On Aug. 14, 1943, they were put in reserve with the rest of the 9th Infantry Division before engaging in the battle of "Fortress Europe."

The 60th entered that battle on D-Day + 4, June 10, 1944, when they joined the 39th and 47th Regiments for an offensive into France. Their first order was to march toward Ste. Colombe where they secured three bridges over the Douve River.

After taking Cherbourg on June 26, they continued their mission to clear the peninsula of Germans. On June 30 they entered Jobourg, on the tip of the Cape De La Hague, west of Cherbourg, before taking a seven day break at Les Pieux. Then on July 9, the unit assembled south of Carentan for what would be a week long battle to take St. Lô.

After surviving North Africa, the Sicily campaign and invasion of Normandy, Freddie was killed on Periers Road during the brutal fight among the hedgerows for St. Lô on July 17, 1944. He was 24 years old.

The family never again spoke of the day that telegram came.

But over the years the story would be told over and over again how Freddie would reach into his pocket to send his little sister and cousin down the street to the movies at the Alexandria theater where life was nothing if it wasn't dreams.

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