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Company I

German City Honors 76th Infantry Division

Frank Mucedola

Frank Mucedola (1921-2007) served as a Tech Sergeant in I-304-76. A musician in civilian life, he established the Frank Mucedola Accordian School in Auburn, New York and has toured with the world-renowned Mantovani Orchestra.

The following article originally ran in
The Auburn Citizen August 24, 2003.


The 76th Infantry Division received its “Baptism of Fire” during the battle of the Bulge.

After crossing into Germany from Belgium and Luxembourg, the division was the spearhead of General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army final drive across central Germany and were among the first troops to make contact with the Soviet Red Army in the vicinity of Chemnitz, Germany, in May 1945.

The 76th Division had gone further east into Germany than any other American unit.

When Germany was divided into East and West, the 76th Division found itself in the East and was subsequently pulled back into the Western Zone.

However, between May and August 1945, when the Russians arrived, the 76th Division was on occupation duty in Schmolln, Thuringen, Germany.

From August 1945 until the Berlin wall fell, schools in occupied East Germany were required to teach students that Germany had been liberated from the Nazis by “The Glorious Red Army.”

The pre-1945 generation knew better, but kept silent out of fear of reprisals.

When the 76th Division was relieved of its occupation duties in August 1945, it was deactivated and its troops were reassigned to other units slated for the invasion of Japan which, for a brief time, was still at war with the United States.

Fortunately, that assignment never materialized as the atomic bomb ended the war and the troops were sent home.

Many years later, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the people of Schmolln in the former East Germany wanted to correct what they knew was a historical lie. They were not liberated from the Nazis by the Soviet Army, but by the 76th Infantry Division of the United States Army.

On April 13, 2003, the people of Schmolln erected a memorial to the 76th Division to show their appreciation.

I am one of the nine Auburnians who served in the 76th Infantry Division during World War II and am grateful that the people of Schmolln have honored us with their thoughtfulness.

-Frank Mucedola


Auburnians who served in the 76th Division in WWII

George P. Diehl
Paul J. DiFabion
Ronald P. Hart
Robert T. Mott
Frank Mucedola
James Napoli
George T Ryan
James Smith
Paul A. Tripociano

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Pictures from a 2003 Veterans Tour that included Schmölln.

Mayor Köhler and Jay Hamilton unveiling plaque.
@2003 Sven Krause
Veterans of the 76th Division
@2003 Anne Adams
@2003 Charles Themar

Inscription on plaque:

THIS PLAQUE RESPECTFULLY
PRESENTED TO
THE PEOPLE OF SCHMOLLN, THURINGEN, GERMANY
BY
THE 76TH INFANTRY DIVISION
AND
COMPANY I, 304TH INFANTRY REGIMENT

UNITED STATES ARMY
WHO SERVED IN THIS CITY FROM MAY TO JULY 1945
“THANK YOU FOR REMEMBERING US”
76TH INFANTRY DIVISION ASSOCIATION
APRIL 13, 2003

Postscript

Dave Keefe

In 2010 David Keefe, a US Marine and grandson to Richard Keefe (I-304-76), visited Schmölln to honor his Grandfather’s service in the War and to see the plaque firsthand. Here’s the video he took.


For more pics of Schmölln taken by David Keefe, go to
Schmölln, Germany – Then and Now

Categories
Company I

Schmölln, Germany – Then and Now


The following are pictures of Schmölln, Germany, a town my Dad’s Infantry Company occupied in the waning days of World War II. The pictures from July of 1945 are from the photo album of Donald Katz, the Captain of Company I-304-76. The pictures from 2010 are from my nephew Dave Keefe, a US Marine who visited the town to honor his grandfather’s service in the War.

Note: Click on pics to see larger.

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The last two pics are of the mess hall. Here’s a close up shot with 1st Lieutenant Richard Keefe on the left (my Dad) and 2nd Lt. Jay Hamilton on the right.

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The lettering on the window states “International Casino” because their cook was a chinese-american.

Back in 2002 I interviewed Frank Mucedola, the Tech Sergeant for Company I’s 3rd Platoon, and he had this to add.

“I don’t know whether you can read what it says on the window or not but it says “Company I International Casino – Dine and Dance: $65.” The gimmick there was that regulations during that period of time were that the troops, meaning the American troops, could not fraternize with German women, or fraternize period, with any Germans – of course most of them were German women. Now, if you got caught fraternizing it cost you one month’s pay. Now the basic pay in those days for the private was 65 bucks. So my pay in those days was $114, so if I got caught I’d be fined $114. If you’re father got caught and his pay was $200, he got fined $200. So the private, his pay was $65, he got fined $65. So that was the gag “Dine and Dance $65”.


With Germany’s defeat, the German civilians in Schmölln considered themselves relatively fortunate to be in American hands, as towns east of Schmölln that were being overrun by the Russians were being devastated due to the a fierce hatred that existed between the two countries during those war years.

In 2003 the people of Schmölln installed a plaque in remembrance of the Americans who occupied their town that half century ago.

@2003 Charles Themar

For more on the plaque go to:
German City Honors 76th Infantry Division

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To end with, here’s a Then and Now pic of Richard Keefe (1945) and his grandson, David Keefe (2007).

dick_dave

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To see the artwork of David Keefe, check out davidkeefe.net