Memory of and tribute to Mario Del Baglivo
Memory of and tribute to Mario Del Baglivo, Surgeon, Second Battalion, 393rd Inf.
Memory of and tribute to Mario Del Baglivo,
Surgeon, Second Battalion, 393rd Inf.
After reading the many touching stories and memories of us remaining men of the 99th Division in our Checkerboard, I thought I might add this vivid memory to our distinguished history.
This is about a man I shall never forget for I feel Mario Del Baglivo saved my life on Dec. 17 or 18, 1944.
Prior to the Battle of the Bulge the 2/393rd along with the 395th Infantry was supporting the 2nd Infantry Division in an attack on the Roer Dams.
Of course everything changed on Dec. 16. The German offensive had forced the battalion to break off the attack and fall back to defensive positions just north of Rocherath somewhere near the 1st Battalion, 393rd. The fighting was still intense in and around Rocherath and Krinkelt. The snow was deep, most communications had been cut, and the situation was chaotic (to say the least) in those first days of the battle.
I had set up our battalion aid station in a rather deep gully just off the road leading from Krinkelt and Rocherath to Wahlersheid into which we could drive our two litter jeeps. Soon we were busy with casualties. At some point in time, Lt.Col. Peters our battalion commander said, "I have learned that the 3rd Battalion's medical section (doctor and men) were all captured earlier in the forest east of Krinkelt - I don't want that to happen to us." He added, "I think we are also surrounded at this time." (We had been hearing German burp guns behind our position.) The plan he outlined was to move the battalion down the road to Wirtzfeld and then back to Elsenborn if possible.
He gave Mario and me an option - stay with the proposed move, or take our wounded now and try to find our way back to Elsenborn. We decided to do both. Mario loaded one litter jeep with wounded and departed while I decided to remain behind with the battalion. Somehow he found his way back to regimental headquarters and was astounded to learn they had no idea where the 2nd Battalion was or our condition. They had not heard from anyone in the unit for hours. Mario explained our situation and said, "I have to go back and get Luke out of there with our wounded."
He was told not to go because the situation was so desperate - but he left regimental headquarters and found his way somewhere to our rear where he left his jeep and crawled through a ditch for several hundred yards back to the gully where my aid men and I were still working with our meager remaining equipment.
Suddenly a helmet appeared in the snowy ditch with a glorious handlebar mustache leading the way - Mario had made it through the German encirclement. He said, "Luke we have to get the hell out of here." There were five or six additional wounded lying in the snow being treated as best we could.
We got them on the remaining jeep, put what equipment we had left in the trailer, and sent them off to find their way back to Elsenborn. Mario and I started to walk and run north on the road from Rocherath. Somehow he had "liberated" a bottle of rye whiskey which he now brought forth. We were finally picked up by an anti-tank gun crew which was one of the last vehicles to pull back from the attack on the Roer Dams.
Thus we reached Elsenborn - the bottle of rye completely empty but both of us cold sober.
Mario died a few years ago but his son, John, lives near me in Florida and is most interested in his father's military experience. This is for you too, John.