By Spc. Dustin Gautney, 2nd HBCT Public Affairs, 3rd Infantry DivisionMay 7, 2009
FORT STEWART, Ga - More than 80 veterans, spouses and children from the World War II Anzio Beachhead landing traded stories and wisdom with Soldiers from the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team during a tour of Fort Stewart in celebration of the veteran's 30th annual reunion, Apr. 28.
The coastal town of Anzio, Italy, was once known as the birthplace of Roman emperors Caligula and Nero; however, in 1944, Anzio would become known as the location of one of World War II's longest and bloodiest battles. By the battle's end, Allied casualties exceeded 60,000.
For the surviving veterans of that battle, their annual reunion allows them to pay homage to their fallen brethren as well as offer guidance and knowledge to the Soldiers of today.
"Us old-timers like to get together every year and trade old war stories, as well as help promote veteran issues to old vets like us as well as the new generation of vets," said James Luzzi, a veteran of the Battle of Anzio.
Today, Luzzi volunteers his time producing television programs focused on veterans' issues and continues to honor the fallen veterans of Anzio in his home town of Staten Island, N.Y. by building a monument commemorating the sacrifice of all who served in the Battle of Anzio.
During the visit to Fort Stewart, Luzzi, as well as others, were welcomed to try out some of the current weaponry available to Soldiers of today.
"I used a 30-caliber machine gun on Anzio, so I was pretty at home behind the 50-caliber...," said Luzzi, "...Although it is pretty staggering to see how much more advanced the weaponry of today is."
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd HBCT performed a battle demonstration focusing on the firepower of current U.S. weaponry such as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the M1A1 Tank and traded war stories of their own with the veterans.
"It's definitely a humbling experience meeting with the veterans," said 1st Sgt. Jabari Williams, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1/64 Armor. "But it's also amazing to see how much of the battle skills they still retain, and to see those veterans still be able to put some steel on the target."
Private First Class Cody Trembley, D Co., 1/64 Armor, agrees.
"One day, I'll be a veteran, so it is awesome to get a chance to show off our new weapons as well as trade stories of how it was for them back in World War II and what we see today in warfare," said Pfc.Trembley.
During the visit to Fort Stewart the Anzio veterans were treated to a pass and review ceremony by the battalions of the 2nd HBCT.
"Sixty-five years ago, on a narrow strip of beach in the Mediterranean Sea, few stood against many," said Col. Charles E. A. Sexton, 2nd HBCT commander, who served as the reviewing officer for the ceremony.
"These veterans paid in sweat, tears, blood, and sadly their lives. They did not do it for awards; they did it so the Soldiers, like the ones in formation, can benefit from the fruits of the veterans labor.