FYI April 12, 2020

On This Day

1910 – SMS Zrínyi, one of the last pre-dreadnought battleships built by the Austro-Hungarian Navy, is launched.
SMS Zrínyi[a] (“His Majesty’s ship Zrínyi” [ˈzriːɲi]) was a Radetzky-class pre-dreadnought battleship (Schlachtschiff) of the Austro-Hungarian Navy (K.u.K. Kriegsmarine), named for the Zrinski, a noble Croatian family.[3] Zrínyi and her sisters, Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand and Radetzky, were the last pre-dreadnoughts built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy.[b]

During World War I, Zrínyi saw action in the Adriatic Sea. She served with the Second Division of the Austro-Hungarian Navy’s battleships and shelled Senigallia as part of the bombardment of the key seaport of Ancona, Italy, during May 1915. However, Allied control of the Strait of Otranto meant that the Austro-Hungarian Navy was effectively contained in the Adriatic. Nonetheless, the presence of the Zrínyi and other battleships tied down a substantial force of Allied ships.

With the war going against the Austrians by the end of 1918, Zrínyi was prepared for transfer to the new State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. On 10 November 1918, just one day before the end of the war, navy officers sailed the battleship out of Pola (Pula) and surrendered to a squadron of American submarine chasers. Following the handover to the United States Navy, she was briefly designated USS Zrínyi. In the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the transfer was not recognized; instead, Zrínyi was given to Italy and broken up for scrap.



Born On This Day

1883 – Imogen Cunningham, American photographer and educator (d. 1976)
Imogen Cunningham (/ˈkʌnɪŋəm/; April 12, 1883 – June 23, 1976) was an American photographer known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes. Cunningham was a member of the California-based Group f/64, known for its dedication to the sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects.[1]




AMERICA REMEMBERS – It’s with great sadness, we learn the passing of Emilio “Leo” DiPalma, a World War II veteran who stood guard at Nuremberg Trials dies during COVID-19 outbreak. DiPalma was 94.

Emilio “Leo” DiPalma, a World War II veteran and a guard for some of the most notorious Nazi prisoners during the Nuremberg Trials, died Wednesday along with several other veterans who contracted COVID-19 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts.

Born in Springfield, MA on June 03, 1926, DiPalma was inducted into the Army on September 15, 1944. After 14 weeks of training he was shipped to Europe on the Île de France with 12000 replacements soldiers. Upon arrival into England, they were transferred down to Southampton for relocation to Belgium. By February 03, DiPalma was on the front lines as a replacement soldier with the 79th Division, 314th Infantry Regiment.

During February and March 1945, the division mopped up German resistance, returned to offensive combat, 24 March 1945, crossed the Rhine, drove across the Rhine-Herne Canal, 7 April, secured the north bank of the Ruhr and took part in clearing the Ruhr Pocket until 13 April. The division then went on occupation duty, in the Dortmund, Sudetenland, and Bavarian areas successively, until its return to the United States and inactivation. Total battle casualties: 15,203 with 2,476 killed in action, and 10,971 wounded in action. Over 579 are still listed as missing in action.

He was 19 when the war ended, Staff Sergeant DiPalma did not have enough points to return home, so he was reassigned to the 1st Division (Big Red One) in Nuremberg, assisting for preparations for what would later be known as the “greatest trial in history.”

During the Nuremberg Trials, a series of 13 trials charged high-ranking Nazi party members and military officials with war crimes. Initially, his duties included making copies of German documents and photographs of Nazi war crimes. But you’re more likely to see him in photographs on the Nuremberg Trials, serving as Sergeant of the courtroom guards, standing behind the witness stand as Nazi higher ups were tried.

One of his duties was to run the prison elevator, bringing prisoners into and out of the courtroom each day.

In photographs of the historic event, DiPalma can be seen standing behind the witness box, guarding the likes of Rudolf Hess, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, and Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler’s designated successor, as a 19-year-old soldier. But for the majority of his life, Aho said, he didn’t talk about it.

He returned from the war, settled in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and married his wife, Louise, and had four daughters. He settled into a career as a hoisting engineer, running cranes to build skyscrapers. DiPalma kept busy with the local fire department and thrived on the softball rivalry between the police and fire departments, and loved to hunt and fish, and play golf.

DiPalma made the return to Germany and visited the courtrooms at The Palace of Justice in Nuremberg in 2006. Its was an emotional return DiPalma, he recalled many stories with Hermann Goering, Albert Spears, Alfred Jodl, Julius Streicher, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Rudolf Hess.

On behalf of TGGF and its members, we salute Emilio DiPalma for his dedication and service to our freedom.

“Every Day is Memorial Day”
The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation
AMERICA REMEMBERS — ‘One of the last breed of givers’: WWII veteran, beloved Slidell grandma dies of coronavirus

Mary Christopher was a country girl from Talledega, Alabama, when she decided to follow her older sister’s example and go to New Orleans to study nursing at the Mather School and then enlist to serve her country during WWII — an adventurous step that her three sons say was completely in keeping with her indomitable spirit.

Christopher, who would have turned 98 in May, died at Slidell Memorial Hospital from coronavirus. Her family was able to have one final conversation with her days before on Zoom, an hour-long chat during which she was awake and was able to hear one of her granddaughters announce her engagement.

Christopher, who lived at Summerfield Senior Living in Slidell, served in the 134th Evacuation Hospital, taking care of soldiers in France, Belgium and Germany. She was promoted to 1st lieutenant and chief nurse in July of 1945.

She didn’t talk about her war time experiences until recent years, her sons said, although they recall as children playing with German swords that some of her patients had given her as souvenirs.

Her middle son, Joe Christopher, who also lives in Slidell, said that he last took her to the World War II Museum in New Orleans on D-Day, where she sported a hat that said WWII veteran. “They just treated her so special, like a queen.”

Her close-knit family felt the same way about her. “I’ve never known anyone so dearly and deeply loved,” her daughter-in-law, also named Mary Christopher, said. “She was one of the last breed of givers.”

Christopher continued to work as a nurse, in private service and at Baptist and Methodist hospitals, until her husband, Joe Frank Christopher, retired in the mid-1970s from his job with the state Department of Agriculture.

She moved to Slidell in the early 1990s, after her husband’s death, and worked as a volunteer at North Shore Hospital for years, her sons said. She was also an avid bowler, a sport she continued until last summer, Joe Christopher said. Well into her 90s, she bowled an over 200 game. “She was bragging about that to everybody,” he said.

A voracious reader, she had just given her eldest son, Barrett Christopher, a couple of books to read, including one about the American Revolution. “She liked mysteries, but she was an eclectic reader,” he said.

A huge Saints fan, she watched the games with Joe every week. “It will break my heart the next time they play,” he said.

One thing she taught her sons was to keep moving, Joe Christopher said, and her family believes that’s one reason for her longevity. “She was the last one to leave any event, always,” her daughter-in-law said. “You never saw her sit down.”

She overcame a stroke three years ago, and 10 years ago recovered from a broken hip she suffered while diving for a ball during a ping-pong game with her grandson. “The doctor said that would probably be the end of her,” Barrett Christopher said. But she bounced back, and while she was told to use a walker, she carried it in front of her instead.

She was very close to her grandchildren, most of whom called her Gram, until Barrett Christopher’s daughter saw a Rambo movie. “Gram is tougher than that guy,” she told her father. “I’m going to call her Grambo.” The name stuck.

Her son Joe was able to see her twice after she was moved to hospice care, the first time to set up an iPad. She was wearing a bilevel positive airway pressure mask, which made it hard to communicate. But when she saw her son in protective gear, she asked, “Do I have the virus?”

“They hadn’t told her. I told her ‘yes.’ She was well aware of what was going on. It was very poignant,” Joe Christopher said.

Born in 1922, Mary Christopher had heard family stories of loved ones lost in the Spanish flu epidemic years earlier, including an uncle who lost his wife and children to the pandemic. “It’s kind of ironic, she was born just after that, and lived all these years until now,” Frank Christopher said.

“She was strong,” Joe Christopher said. “If not for this virus, I think she probably would have made 100 — that was a goal.”

“Every Things is Memorial Day”
The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation
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