Welcome to “A Daughter’s Pilgrimage,a unique and very personal journey through southern Italy to retrace my father’s routes, encampments, and battlefields as a Medical Officer/combat regimental surgeon during WWII.

     After more than ten years of research and writing about my father’s 28 months on the frontlines of WWII during the brutal North African and Italian campaigns, A DOCTOR’S WAR: Letters and Reflections from the Frontlines of WWII was finally published in September 2022.

     For over a decade, I was immersed in not only the courageous and often untold stories of medical officers/physicians, bringing comfort and healing to wounded soldiers amidst the chaos of war, but I also developed a strong curiosity about the actual physical settings in which these events occurred.

     I tried to imagine the locations where my father served, putting his life in danger almost every day. I wanted to physically experience the landscapes where the emotions and challenges of war so profoundly shaped his life.

     And so, in early 2023, I began to plan a trip to Italy to visit some of these places myself — to witness, pay tribute to, and perhaps more fully feel the impact of my father’s wartime service. I asked my older brother, Jack, if he was interested in going with me. Although he had no part in writing the book, he was supportive, and said “yes.” The itinerary was ambitious and a bit overwhelming. But at its heart, was a deeply personal odyssey into our father’s and our country’s past.

     As we traveled through the Italian country sides and small mountain villages with local guides and regional WWII historians, details of specific battles, unknown to me and not found in U.S. Army military archives, were unraveled. Believe me, nothing compares to being somewhere, versus reading about it on a page. And more importantly, experiencing the emotional geography of place, loss, and legacy, transcends time and generations.

     Over the course of 2 ½ weeks, we visited: Anzio, Nettuno, Sorrento, Salerno, Paestum, Eboli, Caserta, the Volturno River, Ciazzo, Venafro, Mt. Pantano, S’ant Angelo d’Alife, Alife, Piedimonte, Cervaro, Cassino, and Maenza, plus all the WWII-related museums/sites in each location. We unpacked and packed and were in and out of 7 hotels (including Rome), and on/off countless regional trains where we shlepped our luggage and figured out all the time tables and platform numbers. It was a very emotional and transformative experience that words really can’t describe.

     These narratives of our travels in Italy, with accompanying photos and captions, are placed in order of my dad’s service during the Italian campaign. We were unable to explore every location in Italy where our father spent time, but perhaps there will be another trip? Stay tuned.

Posted October 01, 2023

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