NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY NAPLES, Italy — The U.S. 6th Fleet Band traveled from here to an Italian military museum 25 miles south of Rome to play at a ceremony Jan. 21 honoring the Allied landing at Anzio during World War II.
Hundreds of people, including school children and World War II veterans, attended a ceremony at Piana Della Orme Museum, to honor the 62nd anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1944, landing.
"I think it was important for us to have a presence here because we were a part of the events that happened here 60 years ago," said 6th Fleet Band ceremonial band conductor Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Cartwright. "It was an honor to play for the ceremony."
On the beachhead of Anzio 62 years ago, American, British, Dutch and Greek naval forces brought 35,000 American and British Soldiers to help liberate Rome from the Germans. The four-month battle to secure the beach began in January of 1944, and the Soldiers endured extreme winter weather and heavy enemy fire. That May, the Allies broke through the German lines, ending the battle, with more than 30,000 casualties.
This year's ceremony began with the arrival of Italian, German and British veterans, who marched in carrying banners, and the NSA Naples Honor Guard paraded the colors as the band played the national anthems of each country as their flags were raised.
Italian and British veterans spoke about their experiences in the Anzio battles and elsewhere during World War II.
"It was amazing the way they expressed the past and the present — bringing individuals up to the stage to speak who really lived the heartbreak and true angst of the world back then," said 6th Fleet Band bass player Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Perkes.
Then came the unveiling of a bronze plaque donated by Mariano de Pasquale, owner of the museum and host of the event. The plaque was dedicated to those who gave their lives during World War II, and a laurel wreath was laid on the plaque as the 6th Fleet Band played Taps.
"I think that they were commemorating all the people that fell during the war, not just the people who won, but also honoring all those people who fought defending what they thought was right or who were told to do so," said 6th Fleet Band tuba player Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Chaplow. "You still have to honor the dead, whether they were enemies or allies."