I was sworn to secrecy for 65 years and can finally talk about my life as an OSS agent. I've seen it all from behind the enemy line

My Proof: Imgur Imgur Imgur Imgur Imgur

Comments: 840 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

ossjohncardinalli741 karma

Here is a link to my book. I wrote it, not a ghost writer. I plan on writing more.
65 Years of Secrecy by John Cardinalli Link: http://amzn.com/B00ODQ82OS

ossjohncardinalli652 karma

My grandson will do the typing. Bare with us if there are delays in answers, we will be eating soon. Italians always have an early dinner on Sundays.

DeathBySnustabtion262 karma

This I knowall to well. Whats for dinner tonight?

ossjohncardinalli597 karma


hth6565449 karma

As a European, I would just like to use this opportunity to thank you very much for coming to our aid in WW2. My country (Denmark) was occupied by Germany, and we probably wouldn't be a free and independent nation today without the help of US troops.

Question: Did you loose any good friends in the war? And if so, did that make you reconsider if it was all worth it, going to Europe?

ossjohncardinalli500 karma

Yes, Katja, who was Polish, I was in charge of her. She was part of our team to get "friendly" with the German Officers. She was killed behind enemy lines, she drove over a mine.

InMyBrokenChair342 karma

What was the reasoning behind such a long period of secrecy? Was it of a predetermined length (i.e. they decided in the 1940s that you couldn't speak about it for 65 years), or was it decided after 65 years that it was safe for you to talk about it?

ossjohncardinalli620 karma

It was 65 years before I was ready to talk and write about it. I'm 94, so it was time. The FBI and CIA declassified my missions in 2008.

Mike03529313 karma

What is the scariest thing you have witnessed or have been a part of?

ossjohncardinalli656 karma

Battle of the Bulge. Our team completely split up, by ourselves, with just radios to communicate. Everyone was completely on their own for 2 days.

Hayseus280 karma

Did you ever have the opportunity to, more lightheartedly, mess with the guys you were against? Like playing pranks or inconveniencing them just to get under their skin?

ossjohncardinalli877 karma

One of my team members needed a hair cut and I told him I was the best Italian Barber in the military. I never cut hair in my life. I cut his and he looked like a dog with mange. He literally almost shot me. Imgur

misinformed66243 karma

Did you ever meet wild bill Donovan?

How did you get into the oss?

Did you ever work with the devils brigade?

And if you would want, we'd love to host you over on r/military.

ossjohncardinalli341 karma

I met Bill Donovan in Washington DC when we were sworn into the OSS.

I got into the OSS while in the infantry in North Carolina and I saw a sign that said "Men Wanted for Hazardous Duty, Need to know Morse Code, and must speak a Foreign Language, which I am fluent in Italian". There is more to the story of how I actually was accepted, it is all in my book. I am not trying to push my book, but it has everything in there. It is available on Amazon "65 Years of Secrecy by John Cardinalli"

I never worked with the Devil's Brigade.

misinformed66112 karma

I plan on picking your book up. I finished my time in the military in 1st group. The direct line from the devils brigade. So I've always been fascinated with units like the oss and devils brigade.

Did you ever get to work with Col Aaron Bank?

Did you go through the typical jump school, or the accelerated program they used for people like doctors and Chaplin's?

ossjohncardinalli197 karma

Never met Col Aaron Bank. I was scheduled to go to jump school in Georgia, but immediately deployed to Miadenhead then I was the 2nd landing on Normandy, the 1st took the bad beating, really bad. I was lucky.

bradleyvvclarklol227 karma

What was the most significant piece of evidence you discovered and how did it help your cause?

ossjohncardinalli518 karma

A lot of evidence, that was my job. I also confiscated a few items. When we raided one of the colonel's houses part of Gestapo. Here is a picture of one of the items I confiscated. It was made by the same gun maker who made guns for Napoleon LePage. Here is a picture, you can see the handle is ivory, hence the yellow coloring from all these years. It has the serial number, crown marking, etc.
Imgur Imgur Imgur

ossjohncardinalli183 karma

Hey everyone, keep the questions coming, but we have to eat. We will be back in about 2 hours, to finish up. We didn't realize we were going to have so many questions. See you soon.

Woweewowow173 karma

We're you scared? When were you scared?

ossjohncardinalli498 karma

Yes, of course... I shit my pants a few times.

Unexplained-bacon165 karma

Best answer imo. Grazie tanto Giovanni

ossjohncardinalli188 karma

You're welcome.

Ycerides614150 karma

What did you do following the war, when you returned home?

ossjohncardinalli288 karma

I became a very successful painting contractor and home developer in Hollister, CA.

Jonnycd4138 karma

Thank you for your service, sir.

My question is what was your role exactly? And can you give us an example of what you did?

ossjohncardinalli256 karma

My role was an agent behind enemy lines collecting information and radio back to allied forces. I was a master at Morse Code, which is how most of our communication was done.

Nibedit123 karma

What would be your advice to the new generation?

ossjohncardinalli312 karma

If one was going to join the military, go into intelligence.

C_Chivo109 karma

What are your thoughts on our current military appose to when you were in? Whats the biggest difference? Do you think its softened up since you were in?

ossjohncardinalli242 karma

The old days I feel we were much sharper then. We had less technology, but produced similar results.

Barack_Stewart107 karma

What theaters were you involved in? And what beach did you land on at Normandy?

ossjohncardinalli186 karma


Charlie195186 karma

Did it take 65 years to declassify your operations? Also, what type of missions were you primarily involved in?

ossjohncardinalli133 karma

They declassified my missions in 2008 by FBI and CIA.

jtdude1582 karma

Thank you for your service! What is your favorite movie?

ossjohncardinalli375 karma

Blazing Saddles

Sherruf79 karma

Hello Sir, thank you for this AMA, it's an honour. Were you working alone behind enemy lines or did you had a small team? What sort of activities did you do behind enemy lines? Were you active in the Netherlands?

ossjohncardinalli171 karma

I worked with a small team that were grouped in twos. The code name who was in charge of all these teams was named "The Dutchman". There is a lot to this, but basically, but the groups all had a task and a name. For example, we had a "married couple" named jack and jill. Yes, I was in Holland and spent a lot of time hiding in windmills which were strategically chosen along Rhine River.

PapiDimmi72 karma

Are you married and do you have any children?

ossjohncardinalli185 karma

Yes. I was married for 70 years, my wife recently passed. We met in Monterey, CA. She worked on cannery row and I was a commercial fisherman before the war. I have two children, 4 grand children, 8 grand children.

lowspeedlowdrag53 karma

As a Signals guy, what did you think of the equipment you were issued? What was great, what was a good idea but never really worked?

What countries did you work in?

Also: The proof provided isnt really great. A sign with your username would be better.

ossjohncardinalli145 karma

The countries I worked in are France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany.

The equipment I was issued was a .45 as seen as the picture I provied. A Fariburn/Sykes knife "Dagger". It was giving to me by William Fariburn, he was as a master as a gutter fighter - hand to hand combat - I was trained by him directly and gave me the knife. Medical kit which had cyanide, which of course I never used.

misinformed6688 karma

You actually got your knife from fairburn? That's insane.

What was it like training under him?

Do you still have the knife?

ossjohncardinalli161 karma

Yes, the training was intense. I still have the knife, I posted the picture. Imgur

I forgot to add that when trying to disarm him, he cut me bad across my right hand. But, I passed his training.

lowspeedlowdrag53 karma

Wow. That belongs in a museum someday.

misinformed6667 karma

If you ever get a chance to handle one, do it. They are incredibly balanced and purpose designed just for killing.

ossjohncardinalli130 karma

Yes, it does have perfect balance. And, yes, they are design for killing people, nothing else.

lowspeedlowdrag15 karma

Were you a part of a Jedburgh team then?

ossjohncardinalli22 karma

I wasn't part of the Jedburgh team.

ossjohncardinalli34 karma

What other proof are you looking for?

ossjohncardinalli27 karma

I am logged in. Is it not showing that?

grubber2646 karma

I'll add as well, thank you for your service. WW2 was an awful time in the world's history but it was amazing how that generation responded.

I have read a fair bit on the OSS and other books relating to that period and I suppose the one thing that keeps me intrigued above all others about people such as yourself, is you are basically volunteering for very hazardous duty, one could nearly say suicidal. How does someone like yourself make that decision?

You touched on it with the cyanide tablet in your kit. That piece of kit always amazes me with its implications.

I found out a few years ago my childhood doctor (a lovely gentlemen) was in this type of work for the English. His job was to get captured at Dunkirk (that was hazardous enough) then become a valued POW and get sent to work on farms and from there conduct espionage (e.g. blowing up rail lines, etc). Gestapo got him in a few times for questioning. Blew me away, he was the gentlest, kindest person you could meet. After the war he had moved to a small town in Australia to work. I actually went to school with his kids. Only found out when his book came out as well.

Again thankyou for your service and thankyou for this AMA, I will be buying your book as well.

ossjohncardinalli32 karma

Thank you.

Red_And_White_Pride11 karma

Do you know anything about William Stephenson?

ossjohncardinalli37 karma


droolingBONER1 karma


ossjohncardinalli9 karma

I am not giving out any strategies, just telling my story.

Tianoccio-35 karma

What's the most fucked up thing you weren't allowed to tell anyone?

ossjohncardinalli24 karma

Come on guys, ask a question with out cussing.

Salmonmander1 karma

What was the most morbid thing you witnessed? How did it affect you?

ossjohncardinalli11 karma

I saw dead bodies of course, but I was in the role of collecting intelligence, not on the front line. Of course dead bodies affected me, but not as much as those actually on the front line.