On Sunday veterans from all branches of the U.S. military will be honored, but it’s not always known how their service affected those in other countries.
Cobb, and his U.S. Army unit belonged to the 142nd infantry regiment of the 36th Infantry Division with elements of the 1st Armored Division.
During a firefight that lasted almost two hours against German soldiers, Cobb’s armored car was hit by 250 millimeter gun fire which resulted in the death of the etire crew.
“I was born in 1953, so well after the end of WWII, and live in Manziana, Italy — a small town about 25 miles northwest of Roma,” Dr. Vincezo Lucherini said. “I heard, when I was a child, local people telling about the events during the years (between) 1943-44 and knew that when the allied troops (U.S. Army) liberated Manziana. It was a day of joy in Manziana, since on that day for Manziana the war was over.
The people, however, understood that the price was the lives of the young men on board the armored car.”
Lucherini said that many inhabitants put flowers on their charred remains and with a child’s “imagination” this tribute made a huge impact on his life.
“I promised myself to find their names, since it seemed right that Manziana remember them,” Lucherini said. “The years passed from that event, and almost all people living at that time (are) now dead. Recently, however, thanks to the web, I succeeded to find some information.”
Lucherini contacted the Manziana Major (at that time Lucia Dutto) with a proposal to honor them in the anniversary of their sacrifice with a memorial where they died. She agreed and a “moving” ceremony was held on June 14, 2011, with the participation of military representatives from the U.S. embassy in Italy and Italian military, civil and religious representatives, Lucherini said.
The men killed in action and honored were Tec-5 Sgt. Doyle Cobb, Lt. Eugene Steele, Pfc. Constantio Chiea and Prc. J.H. McElhennoy.
“Although there are few people still alive in Italy to remember this dreadful day,” Cobb’s niece Sharron Guy said, “the few that remain remember it well.”
A memorial plaque has been erected in Manziana to honor those four soldiers.
Though it is a small village, and the crew was a small foursome, the people of the Manziana, Italy, are still “deeply indebted for this brave action of freeing them from Nazi occupations,” Guy said.