I, Tom's grandson, will be answering questions for him. We'll be here for about an hour.

Tom was drafted when he was 18, was medically discharged at 21, and had 5 children with his current wife of 60 years (or as he jokingly puts it, for many cold winters).

He's a great man, and made a great life for himself. You can ask him anything, and he'll answer the best he can.


Edit: Thanks for all the questions guys. I just left his house, sorry I couldn't answer all of your questions. It's hard to go from question to question with someone with so many memories to share... one question leads to a story, which leads to another, etc. It's an honor to have him as my grandfather. Also, I'd like to mention that before this AMA, he was under the impression that not many people were interested by WWII. But after all these questions, it reassured him that everyone still has the greatest respect for him and all of his brothers and sisters in war. Thanks!!

Comments: 1404 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

SoloDolo86750 karma

Were the troops that liberated Rome aware that the Normandy Invasion was going to happen very shortly after?

kinger971112 karma

"We didn't have the slightest idea"

dubdubdubdot611 karma

Did you see any allied troops from Britain, Australia or New Zealand? What was your memory of them?

kinger971558 karma

I fought along side New Zealanders, French, Polish. I thought the British were kinda crazy. At 2 in the afternoon they'd start up a fire for afternoon tea. But they were damn good soldiers.

Dowew545 karma

Did you bring back any souvenirs from Europe when you came home?

kinger971223 karma

Mussolini's bed spread, and an Italian flag that hung over his bed. He was actually among the first to enter the castle. The flag was later lent out to a man giving presentations at high schools in new jersey. It was never returned. He still has the bedspread though!

MrLaughter741 karma

I hope op's parent was conceived on that bedspread

kinger97886 karma


LiquidBionix486 karma

What was the mood like in the newly-liberated Rome? Was it more friendly or was there hostility towards the troops?

kinger97916 karma

"We were the liberators, they threw wine, flowers, and food at us. Unfortunately I wasn't there long enough to enjoy it."

codytownshend483 karma

What was his impression of the germans? Was there a strong anti-german sentiment among the troops or was there any amount of sympathy? (I'm not sure if he would have been fighting hardcore SS guys or normal Wermacht troops)

kinger97859 karma

"The German soldier was a brilliant soldier."

kinger97427 karma

He is telling a story about them now. It was common for him and his allies to grab German weapons from the ground. The Germans caught on and booby trapped the weapons to set off an explosion when they were picked up. In response, the Americans would tie a string to the weapon and pull it from cover (like a hole or something) so they wouldn't get hurt.

Lepryy186 karma

Did they pick them up to use them in combat? Did they feel the German weaponry was superior to their own?

kinger97406 karma

I'm not with him anymore, but he said that they would take them as souvenirs. He said the Americans were "souvenir crazy." I'm pretty sure he has a luger he got from a dead German.

sandpatch475 karma

What is your strongest memory from the war?

kinger971029 karma

Having to avoid taking dangerous souvenirs. The German soldier knew that Americans took all the souvenirs they could, so after awhile, they started booby trapping lugers, and laying them on the ground.

K1NTAR453 karma

What branch of the military?

kinger97784 karma

U.S. Army, 88th infantry division, 349th regiment, anti tank company.

K1NTAR515 karma

Well then please tell that soldier, as an enlisted Marine I want to thank him for all that he has done. And Semper Fidelis.

kinger97677 karma

He says Semper Fi.

yajuwaju364 karma

Did you meet anyone who later became famous?

kinger97497 karma

He says no. That was a good question though, I haven't thought to ask this of him my entire life.

mustachewhip336 karma

Thank you very much for your service.

With the instant gratification we see in our world today, the generation gap only seems to get bigger and bigger. That being said, what would you say that you learned the most from your time overseas and in the armed forces that the newer generations today might just not be exposed to?

kinger97733 karma

"War is hell, bring our boys back from the middle east". He feels the younger generation has a hard time appreciating the actual rigors of war, because we have a volunteer military right now.

colski08311 karma

What was the most memorable moment you encountered while overseas that you will never forget?

kinger97743 karma

One of the most memorable moments: first casualty. On the ship on the way to Italy, we had long steel tables we would sit on and entertain ourselves (play guitar for example.) The ride got rough, a soldier got crushed by one of the tables. Lived for 4 days on the ship, and was buried at sea. Didn't even make it to battle.

matthew_boyd306 karma

What, if any regrets do you have from serving in the army?

kinger97728 karma

"None, whatsoever."

Dowew273 karma

My Grandma's brother was in the Italian campaign for the Canadian Army. Some of the letters i've read from him give stories of getting up to no good in Italian cemeteries (such as using skulls for target practice). Do you have any shenanigan stories from the war years?

kinger97621 karma

I've heard loads of them over the years. The one he'll share today takes place when he was in a firefight in a small Italian town. He laid down in between 2 dead Italians so he wouldn't be noticed by the the ones that walked by soon after. It worked

AttackRooster259 karma

What was your relationship with your platoon leader? How old was he and was he a good officer who led by example?

kinger97657 karma

"My platoon leader was a asshole! He was 21. He was what we called a 90-day wonder because it only took him 3 months to earn that rank. He didn't know nothin' more than we did."

Pagep255 karma

Thats a badass blanket. What injury was he discharged with? has he ever shot anyone?

kinger97976 karma

Shrapnel injuries throughout my entire body. I shot a cow in combat, thinking that it was a German soldier.

kinger97687 karma

Don't know why I didn't mention this before. Some comments ask about the generation gap... how's this for a generation gap... when i read "Thats a badass blanket" to him, he responded with "Tell him to kiss my royal ass!", thinking that "badass" is an insult. I had to explain to him that you meant it as a compliment.

pigpuddle251 karma

Thank you for your service!

kinger97404 karma

"Your welcome, I'm glad we fought for everything we did"

BromeoAndCooliet218 karma

Which weapon were you issued? Were you air dropped into Italy or taken by ship?

kinger97386 karma

An M1 Garand. He was taken by a liberty ship called the David G. Farragat.

99639182 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

  • How did your unit deploy to Italy?

  • What was the atmosphere like in your unit as they prepared to go to combat in Europe? Apprehensive, excited?

  • Can you tell us more about Mussolini's castle? What was it like?

  • Do you remember any unique characters or interesting guys you served with?

  • How did you earn your purple heart, if you don't mind my asking?

  • What was the general sentiment among the soldiers towards the Soviets as the war progressed? Were there hints that in another decade you would be enemies?

  • What were your thoughts during the Korean War?

kinger97472 karma

"We had taken the mountain, and were coming down into a small town. When we came to a road, a machine gun started firing at us and we hit the ditch. We waited, and dashed across the road to a small barn. I stood in the doorway, with my other squad members behind me in the barn. The machine gun nest was next to a haystack about a hundred yards away. The haystack was a panzer, disguised as a haystack. It fired an 88mm straight round, that landed in the doorway where I was standing. I received shrapnel wounds all over my body. My right knee was blown out, I had shrapnel holes all over my legs, and I still have a piece of shrapnel he size of my thumb stuck in my right heel."

Fun fact, he used to have a hole of his left leg just below the knee, where shrapnel tore through. He used to use this hole as an ashtray when he smoke cigars many years ago. I just learned this today.

Edit: This is in response to the question asking how he earned his Purple Heart. He said, well I would just tell you how i got hurt, which is the above.

kinger97253 karma

Regarding bullet 4. One guy named Slatan from Wisconsin. When we weren't in battle, we wouldn't just read comic books. We would do things like clean our weapons. We had to have one clean weapon. We would be lined up and inspected. Slatan pulls out his .45, threw the bolt back, and BAM! The guy had round in it! He was a crazy guy. He would sneak away and take potatoes with his bayonet out of gardens of civilians, and make the best stew you ever had.

kinger97186 karma

He says lavishly decorated, as you'd assume. Rome was still overrun with Germans, so he didn't get to hang out in the castle for long enough to do anything but steal bedspreads!

Edit: Response to bullet 3

superFLYguy77153 karma

This man is my hero and I want to give him a huge thank you! Also, what was Rome like during WWII?

kinger97232 karma

Besides being heralded as a hero after the liberation, he wasn't able to stay long enough to really experience the country. He went to the Po Valley on the border of Switzerland, in Italy, right after the liberation of Rome.

It_does_get_in117 karma

Has he read Catch-22?

if so did he get a kick out of the Italian stuff?

kinger97127 karma

He hasn't read it unfortunately.

chilols113 karma

Mac or PC?

kinger97448 karma

Haha. He's expressed interest recently in getting a tablet. The capacitive touch would be easy on his fingers, which haven't been fully functional since his shrapnel wounds. That being said, I'd never let him use anything but a PC.

KatePlate99 karma

Firstly I mostly just want to say a massive thank you!!!!

Secondly I feel it would be a wasted opportunity if I didn't ask; would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck?

kinger97668 karma

"I'd rather make love to an Indian girl"

He's never heard that question, hence the inappropriate response. Also, he responds to everything inappropriately!

swagbagtap92 karma

my question is why are you not #1 on AMA??? and Juno is?? this needs to change! you are the last of a dying breed that wont be around for long!

kinger9795 karma

Thats funny. I just said this same thing to my brother a couple minutes ago. Kind of sad.

kenetha6565 karma

Sorry I missed this! Thanks for doing the AMA!

kinger97114 karma

No problem, glad to get the memories out there. Maybe in the future when I am with him for another long period of time I will resurrect the AMA.