Over 75 years after their sacrifice, the residents of Cassino, Italy paused on Memorial Day to honor Captain John L. Chapin and members of Company E, 36th Infantry who died during the Battle of Rapido River in World War 2.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremonies were conducted virtually and featured unique collaborations as part of the ceremony.
Jordan Fredrick, a member of the U.S. Naval Forces band in Europe, was joined by a local high school band in playing ‘Amazing Grace.’ A short prayer by William Blayne Hall was also said, and concluded by the playing of ‘Taps’ by Fredrick.
Company E, a unit largely consisting of El Pasoans from Bowie, Austin and El Paso High Schools; as well as residents of San Antonio and other Texas towns, was led by Captain John L. Chapin. Known as the ‘Boys from the Barrio,’ the troops were part of the first American and Allied troops to set foot in Europe, and they battled they way up the Italian peninsula, facing some of toughest troops Nazi Germany had.
However at the Battle of Rapido River, Captain Chapin and his men were trapped by the Nazi counterattack and killed, unable to retreat after crossing the river. Over the course of the 20 hour battle, 1300 American troops were either killed or injured, with another 700+ captured in the battle.
The services and the videos are provided by Michele Di Lonardo of Cassino, who – along with his fellow residents – want to insure that the dedication and the actions of Captain Chapin, his men and all those who died are not forgotten.