THOMSON (WJBF) – The year was 1943. America was at war with Germany, and draft letters were being sent. Louis Graziano was one of 5 children. Before receiving his own letter, he was helping support his family by working at the beauty salon.
“Well, I was ready to go because all of my buddies were going into the service, so they gave me 2 weeks to get ready to go,” said Louis Graziano.
He boarded the Queen Mary along with nearly 16,000 others.
“They didn’t tell us where we were going until the third day out at sea, and the German subs were chasing us. We had to change course every 6 minutes, they were zig zagging,” said Graziano.
Graziano quickly earned the respect of many, including General Charles Thrasher. He sent Graziano on a special mission that to this day he hasn’t told anyone about. He was also put in charge of building barracks for the troops in his unit.
“Whatever they gave me to do, I would get it done. But I really had no training in it,” said Graziano.
Within 23 months, Graziano earned the rank of Master Sergeant. A rank that normally takes 4 to 5 years to achieve. As the months went on, so did the war…leading Graziano to his next mission. D-Day. The invasion of Omaha Beach.
“When I went in, I drove a gasoline truck off the LST on to the shore. I jumped out of it real quick and got my guns out and my flame thrower, and my flare, and laid down with the dead soldiers right there at the bottom of the cliff,” said Graziano.
He was in charge of 35 men that day, 2 of them didn’t make it.
“We sure were scared but you had to do what you had to do, and you had to go on and do it,” said Graziano.
After Omaha his unit made its way to Reims where Graziano’s skill set would be tested, yet again. He was asked to install a special telephone line in the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“We spent 3 nights there with him, and he was real good with us. He said, ‘ Officers have enough rank to take care of themselves so I take care of enlisted men,’ ” said Graziano.
The need for Graziano’s help didn’t stop there. He was ordered to help find General George Patton and his unit. If not found, the consequences could have been devastating.
“General Patton and half of his company was lost. The other half were in Bastogne and cut off by the Germans for 6 weeks so we went out and we found them,” said Graziano.
As Graziano continued to follow orders and serve as only he knew how, he never imagined what would happen on May 7th, 1945. Decades later, that is what he’s most recognized for. This Little Red Schoolhouse would become the location for the German surrender. A room set up by Graziano, the now last living witness to this historic moment.
“I thought it was great to be in there with them for the signing. And after they got through with the signing, Eisenhower was not in the room with them. He was up the hall, a few rooms up,” said Graziano. “We had to take the Germans up to his room and he asked them, the first thing he asked them was, ‘Were they satisfied with the way things went?’ And they said they were, and then he dismissed them.”
If you ask Graziano about any of his time served, he will tell you ‘He was just doing his job, and would always find a way to get it done.’ An attitude that earned him the respect of so many, and that of the Vice President and President of the United States.
“Dear Mr. Graziano, as Commander in Chief I extend my personal admiration and our nation’s everlasting gratitude for your valiant service during World War 2,” reads Graziano.
These days if Graziano isn’t on tour sharing his story, you can find him at his beauty shop in Thomson.
“My chair’s right over there, the last one down,” said Graziano.
Still with the same attitude, that no task is too small.
“I like to keep things going, they put me in charge of a lot of things and I get jobs done,” said Graziano.
Graziano met his wife Bobbie, while serving. She was also in the military.
She passed away a few years ago after years of marriage.
Louis Graziano has written a book recording his time served, it’s called, “A Patriot’s Memoirs of World War II: Through my eyes, heart and soul”.
To learn more about Graziano and to purchase your copy of the book head to his Facebook page:
A Patriot’s Memoirs of World War II – By Luciano “Louis” Charles Graziano