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Opinion

Akron Caruso who left his mark in England is identified

1/9/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

A couple of weeks ago you kindly published my letter [“UK resident seeks information on Akron soldier,” Dec. 26, 2013, West Side Leader] asking for help in identifying a piece of World War II graffiti which had been scratched on a stone entrance pillar by a soldier billeted in England in 1944. At that stage, the only clue I had was the inscription “Caruso — Akron — Ohio,” which was surrounded by the scratched shape of a heart.

I am delighted to report that as a direct result of the letter you published, the soldier Caruso has been identified. While waiting for the publication of the letter, I had electronically searched the 8.5 million U.S. Army and Air Force World War II enlistment records. That work told me there were 950 Carusos in the records but only 45 of them were from Ohio. Filtering further I was able to reduce the list to just six soldiers from Akron, two of whom had enlisted too late to be candidates. Therefore, on the day you published my letter I was mildly confident that perhaps “Hennerton’s Caruso” was one of the remaining four men on my list, two of whom were brothers.

Among the Akron.com browsers who responded was Angela Wojtecki, an Akron resident who explained that her mother’s maiden name was Caruso. She went on to say she knew her grandfather had been in England in World War II but didn’t know where he had stayed or which military unit he had served in. I sent her the names of the four men I had identified and Mrs. Wojtecki confirmed one of them, Gaetano (Guy) J. Caruso, was her grandfather, who had died in 1993. She also said Guy’s brother George was on the list. Angela offered to climb into one of her uncle’s attics to examine her grandpa’s scrapbooks. What happened next was more than anyone could have hoped for. Hidden from daylight for decades, black and white photographs were gazed at with new interest. Among them unmistakably was a 1944 snapshot of the exact same Hennerton entrance which Angela had seen in the modern photograph you had printed with my letter.

But the evidence didn’t end with that single picture. A second photo identified a location just a short distance away from the stone entrance and Guy Caruso’s unusual crafting of the letters “C” and “K” that we had noticed on the graffiti were matched identically with examples of his handwriting found in the attic. And one last clue … a copper bracelet made by Guy Caruso himself featured the shape of a heart … the same symbol he had used when he scratched his name on the Hennerton gateway 70 years before. Thus the question “Who was Caruso?” was answered. He was Guy Caruso, TEC.3, 900th Ordnance Heavy Auto Maintenance Coy.

Born on July 14, 1914, in Akron to an Italian immigrant family, Guy Caruso became a taxi driver when he left grammar school; it was the peak of the economic depression. Aged 27 in 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Cleveland and left Akron for boot camp in Indiana and then was sent to Virginia and Louisiana, and then to Camp Polk [in Oregon]. He arrived in England in the winter of 1943-44, when planning for D-Day was underway. He left the relative tranquility of rural England for the carnage of the Normandy beaches and the hedgerow fighting in Northern France. After crossing the Seine, he was able to enjoy the flag waving euphoria of the liberation of Paris and on to Belgium. By Christmas he was involved in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, then on to the Rhine and the symbolic significance of its crossing. By the time the war in Europe ended, Tec3 Guy Caruso was in central Germany. When he returned to Akron in the summer of 1945, he carried with him a letter written by his commanding officer; it spoke of his never failing devotion to duty and his spirit and willingness and how his role as an expert body repair mechanic had benefited the U.S. Army. A year later, back home in Akron, Guy Caruso married Angie Carcione, and they set up a home which raised four children.

And finally, surviving members of the Caruso family in Akron in 2014 are actively looking at the opportunity to visit the U.K., just so they can take a look at “Grandpa’s heart” on the Hennerton pillar!

Thanks for your help.

Phil Davis, Hennerton, England

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