Brushing Up, 77 Years Ago Today

Original Caption: “PFC Rocco Festa, 328 Ft. Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, N.Y., brushes up on his French as he awaits transfer from a personnel carrier to a landing craft. Destination: a Normandy beachhead. Aboard SS John Hay.

Note the MP brassard and helmet stripe as well as the 2nd Infantry “Indianhead” Div shoulder patch, which was returning to France for its second world war. He also has an M1 carbine over his shoulder and a ship’s hose behind him. Signal Corps Photo 190428, via NARA https://catalog.archives.gov/id/176887974

PFC Festa survived backpacking through Europe with 2ID and passed away in 2011, age 94. He is buried in Mount Saint Mary Cemetery in Flushing, Queens, alongside his wife Margaret who went on ahead in 2003 to get the house ready.

MPs on the Normandy Beachhead were extremely busy, securing thousands of enemy prisoners of war bagged in the initial landings and subsequent outbreak. Over the next 10 months, 2ID would process 51,055 EPWs, making the division’s MP platoon very, very busy. Odds are, PFC Festa learned a lot more German than French!

After suffering 16,795 battle casualties spending 303 days in combat across Northwest and Central Europe from Omaha Beach to Czechoslovakia– where they were still in combat on VE Day– 2ID would go on to see a war of a different sort in Korea, where they remain today.

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