Tribute to Sacco
The passing of Oliver Sacco on May 13, 2004, another of the 99th's unsung leaders, brings back memories of their contributions to the effort that made the costly victory over the Axis a reality.
During hostilities, Sgt. Ollie and Lt. Dick Ralston were selected (from K/394) to prepare volunteers in Negro service troops as first time combatants with existing all-white infantry companies as their fifth platoons. Their first action was on Honningen Hill, just over the Rhine. It resulted in both courage and savvy that freed the company, which was pinned down with many casualties, to advance and resume their offensive.
Unfortunately, in action Ollie suffered the loss of an eye, which terminated his combat duties, but by no means his military service, which included cadre duty in the Korean conflict. Amazingly, he adapted to that calamity with little despair.
As a civilian, he engaged in a number of community projects designed to assist the poor, needy, and handicapped.
Attending Sacco's funeral were four former 99th members. Nick Antonacci and myself from his company, were honored to have been allowed to serve as pall bearers.
Those who fought with them, and many who didn't, will likely retain his memory as long as they survive, for he was an extraordinary being.
Anyone interested in the accounts, experiences, and comments of those who served our country as members of the 99th's fifth platoons, can become aware of their contributions in a book entitled, "Blood for Dignity," authored by David Colley, from St. Martins Press, New York NY.
John J. Dufalla K/394