Oreste H. Cariddi, WWII Veteran, Age 94

Oreste H. Cariddi | Private (First Class), U.S. Army, 94th Infantry Division, 301st Regiment, Company G | Served in England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Czechoslovakia during WWII | Received the following medals for his service: Silver Star and Good Conduct Medal.

During the Battle of the Bulge, in the thickly forested Ardennes region of Belgium, France and Luxembourg, the Germans launched a surprise attack on Allied Forces. Mr. Cariddi and a fellow soldier were ordered to dig foxholes and await the rest of their platoon, who were engaged in combat. Seven long days transpired.

“They moved us out to Liège Belgium. Liège Belgium was the depot for our troop supplies – gasoline, tanks, equipment, rifles, everything that the army needed. That was the depot. That was the depot for the Battle of the Bulge.”

December 16, 1944: Adennes region of Belgium, France and Luxembourg. The Germans launch a surprise attack on the Western Front with the intent of coercing Allied Forces to agree to a one-sided treaty.

“That’s why the Germans were trying to get Liège Belgium. Everything that went on in Europe came out of Liège Belgium. That was the biggest depot. That’s why they were trying to get that area. So they could get gasoline and whatever they needed to defeat us. See many people don’t know what the Battle of the Bulge is. They just know it as a word – the Battle of the Bulge. But that was our depot. We gotta mine all the bridges. There’s a river around Liège. We had to mine all the bridges. We set all kinds of TNT, ready to blow them if and when the Germans got there. But then when they had a big snow storm, both sides lost a lot of men. We were taught to protect yourself first. Everything else is secondary. It’s army training. So when we crossed the small river, we crossed that at night. All you could see was the fellow in front of me. His helmet had a white stripe, up and down. And we just followed. It was dark. You couldn’t light anything because the Germans would see you. We got across that river. We were carrying hand grenades, rifles, equpiment, boots, rain coats, half a tent. You know two guys, we put up little tents in case of bad weather. We got halfway up the mountain. Half my stuff was gone. I couldn’t carry it! I had too much stuff to carry!”

In the midst of the harsh winter weather and thickly forested terrain, Cariddi and a fellow soldier are ordered to advance up a hill to dig foxholes while others in their platoon face their fate in combat.

“So, we disposed of everything. I said “OK, you hang in there. I’m gonna dig a hole right behind this big tree.” I dug a fox hole there. I dug a while. Then he dug. We got deep enough, the shell had to come in the hole to get us. And we covered with branches. We were well hidden. But during the night you could hear the shells going over [makes sound fx] going overhead. You could hear the shells. So, you know, when we heard that, we didn’t come out.”

Despite more than 89,000 American casualities, Allied Forces prevail. Winston Churchill said The Battle of the Bulge was “undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will … be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”

“We got stuck there for seven days. None of our officers – we had three officers – none of them made it up that hill. They were all blown out below, before they started the climb. You know, I’m not a hero, but I did what I had to do to protect myself.”