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Turri remembers World War II

BY: Lauren Kirchmyer | December 12, 2013

CHEEKTOWAGA - General George S. Patton Jr. is known as one of the most successful United States Field Commanders from any war. Fighting as a part of Patton’s Third Army in World War II was Edo Turri, now a 91-year-old Cheektowaga resident.

Turri was 22 years old in 1944 when he was stationed in Germany, fighting for the United States in World War II. One of his most memorable war stories happened in April 1944.

His lieutenant said they were about to move, so he went to a truck for a couple grenades and some ammunition and they started walking…until machine guns were fired in their direction.

“We hit the ground,” Turri said. “All of us were lying there and machine guns were on the other side of the creek, but we didn’t know where because willow trees were hanging over and we couldn’t see nothing.”

They were there for about a half hour when two semi trucks arrived. Engineers exited the vehicles and started building boats out of plywood and tape.

“They pulled the boats up to us, tied a rope on the back and told us to get in the boats. There were at least 12 men in my boat and we got to the other side.”

They kept moving and arrived at an area where the grass was tall.

“I look up and there were two Germans that surrendered. They were scared, skinny, young. I searched them, they didn’t have nothing. I didn’t know what to do, I told them to go back.”

From there he made his way over to an open field.

“All of a sudden artillery comes in. I went down on my belly. Bang. The concussion blew me away. When I came to I saw a pair of combat shoes down in the ground and the body was one of our guys, my squad leader. The first gunner became the squad leader and I became the first gunner.”

They advanced and made their way to the outskirts of Siegburg.

“You saw old ladies with their little kids, no men because Hitler had every guy in the army. Germans were throwing artillery at us and they misjudged. They were killing all of those kids and women walking down the street.”

They kept walking, following alongside a railroad track, when there was another machine gun attack.

“My squad leader got his field glasses and he spots where this machine gun is. He turns around and goes, ‘Third mortar squad,’ that was me. I set the thing up and he got numbers for this distance. ‘165 yards, fire one.’ Bang. It was short, so he gave me another reading. ‘Fire three.’ We killed them all.”

Needing rest, the troop stopped at a nearby three-story house.

“There were four old ladies down in the basement, a couple of younger ones, and four or five little kids, all huddled in the corner, scared skinny. I had some candy in my pocket. I put some in my hand and ran over to the little kids. Their mothers said no. Maybe she thought I was going to poison those kids? I took one and put it in my mouth. She took a piece for her kids and I gave them another one and I gave their mothers each a piece of candy and I went over, sat down and I don’t think my bottom hit the concrete before I was out like a lighthouse.”

A week later they got moving again. After going through open country full of woods and grass, they came upon an area of beautiful houses and nicely dressed women and children walking the streets. Around the corner was an out-of-place concrete wall.

“I scouted around and saw a high fencepost and barbed wire. It was a concentration camp. I called my lieutenant over.

“We went over by the gate. There was a big lock on that thing. He takes his pistol out and shoots it twice to break it. We opened the gate.

“There were some of these guys that could walk, some that were dead, some that couldn’t move. They were dressed in black and white stripes; they were prisoners. They found the big shot, whoever was in charge, and killed him.”

Turri and his lieutenant saw many of the people escape, including two Italian soldiers who were captured. After three hours it was time to move along. Not too far away they saw women flocking over to an open cave.

“Hitler had all of these art pictures in there. They were stacked wall to wall.”

His time in Germany finally came to an end. After returning to Fort Bragg for 30 days, he spent eight months of occupation in Japan and was back home in Buffalo in 1946.

“If I had a dollar for every letter I wrote to all my girlfriends and family, I would be a millionaire.”

Turri loves sharing this war story and more at different events he attends with the F.J. Donovan American Legion Post 1626, located at 3210 Genesee St. in Cheektowaga, of which he is a member.

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