Inauguration of the Checkertails of Lesina Monument

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In a continuation of a previous WarbirdsNews story about the Checkertails of Lesina, we bring you the conclusion.

Story by Tom Ricci

May 13 – 16, 2014, four days that none of us will never forget.

Through his recollections of his war years in Lesina, Italy, my father Primiano gave the spark that eventually became my mission to create a memorial  honoring the US Army Air Force’s 325th Fighter Group for their efforts during WWII to free his town from Nazi tirrany. That day became a reality on May 16th, 2014. On May 13th, 2014 the Americans arrived in Lesina, again, and this time they came as our guests. For four days they celebrated and enjoyed local culinary wonders, toured the lake on catamarans, visited the Marina di Lesina by bus and its restaurants, did some self-discovery and most of all had the lifetime opportunity to walk the same fields and roads that their fathers did.  Our guests walked through the ruins and touched the walls, floors, and mud that their fathers walked on and lived through from March 1944 until March 1945. They captured hundreds upon hundreds of pictures and drove many miles to other locations of interest. Emotions ran deep, and souvenirs became a priority.  They became hunters, as their fathers were, looking for the prize, for the item that would say to them “I was there”.  Some of the building materials from the remnants of the old air base structures became targets, the souvenirs like pieces of the bricks and tufo (local material that makes up the larger blocks to build a house), pieces of clay roof shingles, and others artifacts found in and around the buildings like stones from the old runway. After some searching, everyone had some sort of keepsake that was coming home as a reminder of their father’s wartime home. Here in this picture Anita Green, daughter of Colonel Hershel Green finds a piece of the roof clay tile for keeps. We celebrated the lives and losses of brave men in the defense of our town, and our country. We will never forget.

Along with the family members that represented the 325th FG local dignitaries also attended the memorial unveiling, and they included: Comandante (Commanding Officer) del 32° Stormo Aeronautica Militare Italiana, Colonnello Michele Oballa, based in Foggia (FG); Comandante (Commanding Officer) of the Guardia di Finanza San Severo, Major Solis based in San Severo, (FG); The Municipal Police Foggia Lieutenant Ciro Palmieri, and other city and military figures. Antonio Tucci the town of Lesina Mayor also attended the ceremony.

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More pictures from Lesina.

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6 Comments

  1. I would like to thank everyone in the warbirdsnews site that worked with me on the announcements and keeping pace on the memorial and ceremony. Thank you Moreno and your staff.

  2. Greetings,

    I was the 325th Hdqrs. photographer from the Lesina period to the end of the war. I worked in S2 with Stan Wilson (Public Relations) and took the pilot photos for release to the media. I regret that I was not aware of this site or would have contacted you folks before.

    I just unearthed my personal album of the 325th and decided it was time to try to find someone that might wish to include some of these photos in the group history. In reading some of the notes re the 2014 reunion I noticed familiar names, Edwards, Green, Fiedler, et.al.

    I have photos that I took of many pilots, some identified, others not, as well as pictures of the facilities (as it were!) at Lesina. I have an original issue of Stars & Stripes Mediterranean Italy edition of July 22,1944 which features a photo spread of 15th AAF aces, including Herky Green (with a photo by me).

    Also, I have the original Sunday Stars & Stripes magazine dated July 15, 1945 which features a full front page humorous photo “Tokyo Bound” of 325th S2 draftsman/artist John Camm (photo by me). This was published before anyone knew about the end in the Pacific.

    So, I’m sorry that I lost touch with the Reunion folks after Stan Wilson’s death but maybe some of these photos would be of interest, especially to the people who have written notes on your website. If i have misdirected this to the wrong place, I would appreciate your directing me to the right place. Thanks for your attention.

    Checkertails Forever!

    Tom Orcutt (in Montana)

  3. Tutto quello che si è fatto a Lesina è stato bellissimo,ma bisogna rigraziare in primis Primiano Ricci(cugino di mia Moglie) ma anche, e sopratutto, il Gruppo dei Chechertails Clan di Lesina che hanno organizzato il tutto e, che purtroppo non ho visto nemmeno una foto….

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