APPROPRIATELY, the men who opened the first American front in Europe were the first to finish the job. The German armies in Italy and part of Austria surrendered—completely and unconditionally, effective at noon, Wednesday, 2 May, 1945. A week later German forces everywhere officially laid down their arms.
The men who fought in the Mediterranean campaigns could look back with pride on the job they had done. Behind lay the beaches of Oran, Gela, Salerno, and Anzio; Arab huts and two-wheeled Neopolitan carts; Algiers, Palermo, Rome, and Florence; the weary climbs up the mountains and the treacherous descents into the valleys; the smell of the dead and the fear of being wounded.
There was glory enough for all—for the men of the 34th with over 500 days in the line; for the 1st, 3rd, 9th, 10th Mountain, 36th, 45th, 82nd Airborne, 85th, 88th, 91st, 92nd, and 1st and 2nd Armored divisions; for the Rangers, the 1st Special Service Force and the 442nd Combat team; for the service troops, ack-ack crews, and headquarters personnel; and for the 12th and 15th Air Forces and the navy.
The mission was accomplished.