US soldiers saved my grandparent's and mother's life also. I only learned two years ago, an extension of a story that I heard retold when I was younger.
It occurred in a very, very small town outside of Naples, Italy during WW-II. The Italian resistance had killed 2 German soldiers and the German soldiers retaliated by lining up as many of the men in the town were lined up and massacred with machine guns. A few dove ahead of the heap and survived.
The extension of the story was that the Germans returned and harassed the local women for any additional men. My grandmother with her children actually hid what in Italian terms would be loosely translated to "the village idiot" in their cellar and had a near miss in terms of quick inspection of the home. However, unsatisfied, the Germans pulled a maneuver which rings more like a movie... If the women did not give up all of the men, they would shell the village when the church bell struck 12. The hour approached and the women were not flinching as the tanks surrounded the village. Shortly before sure devastation, the cavalry arrived, and saved the village. My grandfather has been a commercante and farmer - and treated the American soldiers to a feast - and my forebears survived.
Years later when my grandparents emigrated here with my mother, my grandfather worked an unskilled position with Eastern Airlines. Many of the soldiers flying or residing in East Boston remembered my grandparents kindness and formed an enduring bond. Later when my grandparents returned to their homeland and re-established their home it was named "Villa Americana" which is still the only address you need to write other than the town's name "Frattaminore, Naples" when sending mail to Italy.
My great uncle was a cook in WW-I (no doubt they got good food, he was a great cook) and for many years I proudly kept his WW-I Dept of War Army blanket. I still have some trinkets from him. He had tried to re-enlist in WW-II, but alas was too old to re-enlist.
Many emigrant families from Europe will continue to have a great respect and a debt of gratitude to the military that can never be repaid.
A thanks to all veterans, and a wish for all Marines to have a Happy Birthday. It is an honor to know such men and women.
Ernest J. Bordini, Ph.D.