PISA, Italy – Every year, on the last Sunday in July, the Pistoia Mountains community honors World War II’s fallen soldiers – in particular the memory of Manrico Ducceschi, a partisan commander known as "Pippo," who fought alongside U.S. Soldiers on the Gothic Line.

Keeping the memory alive to remember the cost of freedom
Every year, on the last Sunday in July, the Pistoia Mountains community honors World War II’s fallen soldiers – in particular the memory of Manrico Ducceschi, a partisan commander known as "Pippo," who fought alongside U.S. Soldiers on the Gothic Line. (Photo Credit: Elena Baladelli) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Italian community always invites the U.S. military from Camp Darby as a sign of friendship and alliance between the two countries. This year, Sgt. 1st Class Tehran Jones Army Field Support Battalion-Africa, was among the service members who took part.

Keeping the memory alive to remember the cost of freedom
This year, Sgt. 1st Class Tehran Jones Army Field Support Battalion-Africa, was among the service members who took part.
“It was very important to me to have the chance to be a part of the history in this mountain community, “said Jones. “ I was happy to be able to be a part of the ceremony and represent the U.S. Army.”
(Photo Credit: Chiara Mattirolo)
VIEW ORIGINAL

“It was very important to me to have the chance to be a part of the history in this mountain community, “said Jones. “ I was happy to be able to be a part of the ceremony and represent the U.S. Army.”

Maj. Duane Dumlao, also from AFSB-A and 1st Lt. Gary Frisk, from the U.S. Air Force, 731st Munitions Squadron also took part. A few U.S. families also joined the group highlighting the importance of learning thru history.

Keeping the memory alive to remember the cost of freedom
Maj. Duane Dumlao, Army Field Support Battalion-Africa delivers a speech during a ceremony to honor WWII fallen soldiers and the memory of Manrico Ducceschi, a partisan commander known as "Pippo," who fought alongside U.S. Soldiers on the Gothic Line. (Photo Credit: Elena Baladelli) VIEW ORIGINAL

“I am honored to be able to represent the U.S. Army in this ceremony to honor our predecessors, Italians and Americans who fought side by side for the ideals of freedom and justice,” said Dumlao in the brief speech he was asked to deliver.

Jason Cockman, Darby Military Community Chief Plans and Operations, decided to make the event a family field trip.

“This commemoration will help teaching my children to never give freedom for granted a great lesson and an example of what standing up for your rights means,” Cockman said.

Flowers were placed at a memorial stone. Several municipal and provincial authorities took part, to include Marcello Danti, Mayor of Abetone-Cutigliano, Giampaolo Pagliai representing the City of Pistoia and Luca Marmo, President of Pistoia Province, Alpini and Partisans associations.

Rita Monari, of the National Partisans Association thanked the U.S. military members for taking part, as the U.S. military connection to the partisans was significant, she said.

“The only recognition awarded to Pippo came from the U.S. government, a Bronze Star Medal,” Monari said.

Pippo’s niece, Laura Poggiani, said her uncle and his comrades were equipped with American uniforms and arms.

"Pippo not only fought heroically and loyally on the side of the Americans, but his partisan formation was, after the arrival of the Allies of the Fifth Army, framed in the form of a regular and organic department called "Battaglione Autonomo Patrioti Italiani Pippo,” she said.

Pippo and the partisans fought Germans along a 24-mile front, known as the "Gothic Line," from the Garfagnana to the Pistoia Apennines. After the breakthrough of the Gothic Line, partisans flanked Allied troops, advance with them to liberate Modena, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Piacenza and Lodi. After liberating Milan, they reached the Swiss border. Returning triumphantly to Tuscany, on June 6, 1945, at Abetone, in the presence of Allied officers, the group disbanded with the honor of arms.

Keeping the memory alive to remember the cost of freedom
Maj. Duane Dumlao, Army Field Support Battalion-Africa presents a Darby Military Community crest to Laura Poggiani, niece of commander "Pippo" as a sign of friendship. (Photo Credit: Elena Baladelli) VIEW ORIGINAL

Following the memorial ceremony, the town of Pian di Novello gathered for lunch with the American delegation. The commemoration was more than remembrance, Cockman said. It was about entire towns standing up, families joining in support of other families.

“Pian di Novello community welcomed us like we were already part of their community,” Cockman said. “I will continue to support this ceremony as long as I'm here.”