By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsNovember 2, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 2, 2018) -- Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel J. Roark, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum senior enlisted adviser, and Dr. Laurie Rush, Fort Drum Cultural Resources manager, placed a wreath Nov. 2 at the grave of an Italian soldier buried at the Prisoner of War (POW) Cemetery at Fort Drum, New York.
Senior leaders have conducted a wreath-laying ceremony in recent years at the request of the Italian Embassy, which mails the wreath to the Cultural Resources branch. In Italy, National Unity Day and Armed Forces Day is observed annually on Nov. 4 to commemorate the victory of Italy over Austria-Hungary in 1918 during World War I.
Adjacent to Sheepfold Cemetery, the POW Cemetery is the burial site for six German POWs and one Italian POW who died during World War II.
Pvt. Rino Carlutti was born in the village of Daniele del Friuli, Udine, located northwest of Venice. He died Oct. 17, 1944, at the age of 22 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
A second Italian POW was exhumed and returned to his native country at his family's expense.
It is believed that the German and Italian graves were separated by some distance as the Germans refused to be buried alongside the Italian soldiers. At the time, Italy had already surrendered and the Germans had occupied Italy.
Although accounts vary widely, it seems that about 1,000 Italians and 1,800 Germans arrived at Pine Camp between 1943 and 1944. The men worked on farms and at various jobs in the area, including logging operations in the Adirondacks and, by all accounts, received very good care.
By May 10, 1946, all of the POWs had left the area.
Fort Drum officials had also participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Carlutti grave in August when local community members organized the event in conjunction with the 34th annual Bravo Italiano Festival in Watertown. A local family had begun the wreath-laying tradition in 1985 when the festival started, but it was discontinued years later for reasons unknown.