The Memoirs of John A. Citera

John and Julia Citera prewar days

My Father's "Scrapbook"

My Father's "Scrapbook" – John A. (Jac) Citera, son of former T/Sgt. John A. Citera

I'd known about this Scrapbook since I was very young. I'd seen it as a child but the contents were not discussed. Right up until my Father's passing in 1979, he never discussed the war or his experiences. I knew a couple stories including one where he and others rescued some other fellows but was never told any of the details. I can understand modesty when one rescues another but the significance of the Soldier's Medal he received was not explained. Four years or so of his life was tied directly to the 85th and I'm sure that time critically influenced the rest of his life. He enlisted having recently married, leaving an Accounting job with Electric Bond & Share. I knew that the Army wanted him to re-enlist to do intelligence when the Korean War broke out but didn't know his MOS was "intelligence".
Dad was an important adult member of our Scout Troop and received many tributes and awards for service from the local BSA council. He was very proud to have been "tapped" for membership in the Order of the Arrow. I was proud to be part of the ceremonial team that first inducted him into this society of Honor Campers associated with the Boy Scouts. He attained their highest rank, the Vigil Honor.
I can't be sure whether the Scrapbook was personal or part of an official project for record keeping. The Scrapbook faded from memory until my Mom's passing in 2003. Having come across the Scrapbook again at that time and then finding the web site set up for the 85th Heavy Ponton Battalion in 2008, I felt it would be proper to share the contents. It is after all a small part of the history of WWII which belongs to the members and the families of the members of the 85th.

There aren't any photos of North Africa in this Scrapbook. Except for some local paper money and the Silver Certificate captioned "Landed in Africa – 21 Jun 1943" found on page 3, there isn't much. I did have a knife that was fashioned by an "arab" out of a metal file but I can't find it. There was a story my Mom told about how she received a pair of glasses from my Dad that "..had been scratched in a sand storm in Africa." He asked to have them fixed or replaced and when she brought them to the Optometrist, he told her they looked more like he was in an explosion from a land mine. My Mom, like so many other wives, was already living daily with worry over loved ones overseas; now she gets this bit of news. I never did find out whether it was a sand storm or an explosion.
I'll make some comments relative to the pages contained in the scrapbook based on what I do know.
(Follow Jac's comments in the Citera Scrapbook subpages)

John and Julia Citera in 1978. One year before John passed away.

The Silver Certificates

There aren't any photos of North Africa in this Scrapbook. Except for some local paper money and the Silver Certificate captioned "Landed in Africa – 21 Jun 1943" found on page 3, there isn't much. I did have a knife that was fashioned by an "arab" out of a metal file but I can't find it. There was a story my Mom told about how she received a pair of glasses from my Dad that "..had been scratched in a sand storm in Africa." He asked to have them fixed or replaced and when she brought them to the Optometrist, he told her they looked more like he was in an explosion from a land mine. My Mom, like so many other wives, was already living daily with worry over loved ones overseas; now she gets this bit of news. I never did find out whether it was a sand storm or an explosion.
Page 3 gives a record of landings. I'd rather have seen pictures of the landings with the dates. That he used Silver Certificates was odd or maybe not.

Citera Earns the Soldiers Medal

Sgt. Citera at attention during the presentation of the Soldiers Medal.

The official history of the 85th records the incident which earned John Citera the soldiers medal as follows: On the afternoon of the second of October a power utility boat with a boat crew consisting of members of the S-3 Section of this organization were looking for a channel in the river which would make possible the communication between the various training sites by boat. Upon reaching the dukw site it was found that a dukw was operating in the river without the use of a maneuver cable. The dukw was carried by the swift current against a rock in the middle of the river. The dukw turned on its side and began to sink. Two of the four men in the dukw held on to the side of the partly submerged craft. The other two occupants were thrown from the dukw and were floating downstream with the current. While the boat manned by members of the S-3 Section started out to rescue the men who were floating downstream another 85th Engineer utility boat commanded by Lt. Reed rescued the men holding on to the dukw. The S-3 boat finally caught up with the two men and pulled them out of the water about one-half mile downstream from the scene of the accident. The two men rescued were Lt. Col. Sampson and Major Peters, the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer respectively, of the 147th Quartermaster Dukw Battalion. After the rescued men were brought to shore the boat proceeded downstream. After traveling serveral minutes the boat hit a submerged rock causing the hull to be torn. The crew managed to beach the boat, thereby reaching shore safely. The boat, a captured German craft, was lost and could not be recovered.

The Soldiers Medal is the highest medal awarded by the Army for bravery not involving contact with the enemy. The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy.

The Soldiers Medal

The Soldier's Medal is a military award of the United States Army. It was introduced by a law passed by U.S. Congress on July 2, 1926. The criteria for the medal are: "The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy." (Army Regulation 600-8-22).

Writing on the back states: Presented by General Davidson on 6 Dec 1944

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30.11 | 18:12

Italy, near the Garagliano River

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30.11 | 18:03

Send photos to rodbobarr@icloud.com

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28.11 | 17:15

Where is the soldier Galli in this pic?

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27.11 | 11:38

I was finally able to get photos! What email would you like them sent to?

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