De Lucia Portrait
Thomas De Lucia was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in July of 1914. In his early teens Thomas only made it through one year of high school before beginning a life as a factory worker in a box factory. Thomas’s draft number was high but his older brother’s was not. Fearful of how his brother with a mental disability would do in the Army, Thomas took his place. Thomas did 4 years of service. His highest Rank was a Private First Class (PFC) in the 2nd Army, 9th Army, and the First Army 903 Company.
Basic Training took place at Fort Lee, VA in Summer 1942. Thomas’s company had award winning marksmenship. Thomas claims the best shooters came from South Philadelphia. Advanced Training took place in the Fall of 1942. He was “trained in: Infantry, Engineers, Tanks, Bazookas, Chemical Warfare, Signal Corps, Medical Corps, Machine guns, Riflemen, Judo training, and Mines.” Special Training in 1943, Company 903 was formed with 199 men. The total cost of training was over two million dollars. After training Thomas was told he was going to England left for embarkation at Camp Kilmer. Set sale on the Queen Mary. Here is an excerpt of his Military History Thomas De Lucia wrote himself:
June 7, 1944 (D-Day Plus 1), our outfit was sent in to Utah Beach in the Normandy battle area in two groups of landing craft. This was to spread us out and thus enhance the chances of at least some of us making the landing no matter what was encountered during the crossing. However during our crossing of the English Channel, due to fear and confusion, the boats carrying the two halves of our outfit were separated, causing half to land on Omaha Beach. My group landed as planned on Utah Beach but unfortunately we lost 7 men. But far worse, the 1st Div, 101st Airborne, 60th Signal Corps was wiped out during the crossing.
Arrived Chef Du Pont (St. Mere Eglise), the outfit was broken-up into squads (9 to a squad) and spread out over a very wide area. Our squad eventually drifted so far away from the others t h a t we couldn’t be located at all, this caused us to be declared Missing in Action. […] We eventually regrouped with our outfit at Isigny. June 10, 1944: Somewhere in France, Tony Capanegro was sharing a foxhole with me. I grabbed Tony and pulled him down just in time. A German 88 shell came right by where his head had been.
Encamped at Mortain, St Lo. The enemy stalled the Allied Front here in heavy fighting due to the Hedgerow defenses setup. […] Five of us went on a two week long secret mission where we spied on German troop movements. Towards the end of the
mission German aircraft attacked us.
For more on Thomas De Lucia Military History watch the videos below:
Thomas’s his nephew gives some background information about Thomas prior to being drafted, including how took his brother’s draft number.
November 3, 1945 Thomas boarded the Victory Ship the USS Tusculum Victory and by November 19th he arrived in Newport News, VA. After the war Thomas did not feel welcomed. His home was gone, his job was gone, he tried to reenlist but was denied. He reunited with his girlfriend Ester through letters and they eventually married in California. Thomas spoke with the VA to sort out his life but it was a private doctor Dr. Harry Haltzam that Thomas attributes to getting him back on his feet.
For more on Thomas De Lucia’s Military Aftermath experience, watch the video below:
5 Battle Stars
Ribbons from the French, Belgium Underground, Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe