134th Infantry Regiment Crest

134th Infantry Regiment

"All Hell Can't Stop Us"

35th Infantry Division emblem

Pvt. Leonard Pipitone

Company A

Pvt Leonard Pipitone

My Grandfather, PVT Leonard Pipitone or "Pep" as he was known to his fellow soldiers, was drafted into the army in early 1944. Having just had a baby girl, he was in no rush to join the Army and be a hero.  His basic training at Camp Blanding Florida was delayed by three months due to being held at the camp stockade for going awol for ten days.  After his completion of basic training, he was sent to Europe for assignment as a replacement to Co. A of the 134th infantry regiment. Upon arrival he and the other replacements were treated to a turkey dinner, which immediately aroused their suspicion that something was up.  The next day they were rushed to the front to relieve the paratroopers of the 101st in Bastogne. Initially in the advance toward Bastogne, his unit was told only to expect small arms fire. In coming to a clearing he saw three Tiger Tanks come around a thicket of trees.  The German tanks took out an American Sherman tank, but were then knocked out themselves by artillery.  Leonard remembered thinking how could anyone survive a bombardment like that, but surprisingly many German soldiers came out of the woods to surrender.  While taking cover at the edge of the woods, he saw the hatch of the knocked out Sherman pop open, and a tanker came out and started walking toward him.  The tanker had two broken arms, so Leonard lit a cigarette for him and put it in his mouth.  He thanked him and said he was headed back to get some "white Sheets".  It was here that Leonard obtained a P-38 pistol as a souvenir.


Leonard remembered being told not to wear a scarf or OD towel around his neck because there were Germans dressed in American uniforms and they could be identified by the red scarves they wore around their necks.  It was feared that American GIs that were color blind would mistakenly fire on their own men.


Volunteers were asked to run back to the rear to bring Hot coffee and roast beef sandwiches up to the front.  PVT Pipitone and his friend volunteered and headed back to get the food and drinks.  While walking back they heard a german rocket, which the soldiers had nick named "Screaming Meemeis".  Both men hit the ground for cover.  Fortunately the shell was set off by it hitting the high branches of the pine trees, and the shell fragments hit the ground around them harmlessly.  When they got back with the food, everyone was happy to enjoy the sandwiches and hot coffee.  Leonard recalled that the sandwiches were so thick, you could hardly get your mouth around them.


A German sniper had been firing on his unit, so Leonard and two other soldiers were sent to try to find him.  They saw some smoke in a tree and the three men fired at it hitting the sniper.  After a few minutes they heard cries "Hilfe, Hilfe" and they went and retrieved the sniper who began groveling and claiming he was Belgian.  None of them believed him, they knew he was SS and after his rifle was smashed against a tree, he was dragged off to the rear.  Leonard vividly remembered the rifle used by the sniper.  It had a blonde unfinished stock, and he thought to himself that the germans must be in bad shape if they are starting to take shortcuts with their weapons.


A german counter attack forced the company to fall back and in the confusion PVT. Pepitone jumped into a foxhole. Fortunately it was occupied by another member of his platoon named "Pops". He was drafted at age 40 and no one could understand why he was in the army at that age.  The two men spent the night together in the foxhole with no contact from the rest of the platoon and only a bottle of Calvados that Pops carried with him to keep warm.  The following morning, they heard voices but could not tell if they were German or American.  They made contact, but were told to stay where they were and had to answer all sorts of questions about who pitched for the Yankees and who was married to Betty Grable.  They were later told that they had spent the night behind enemy lines since the company had pulled back and left them behind.  The Lieutenant said he was going to recommend them for the bronze star, but was wounded before he could do it.


Another incident Leonard vividly remembered, was when he and a friend volunteered to be first and second scouts.  As they were advancing, the Germans opened up on them and his friend was hit and went down. Leonard turned back to see the lieutenant and his radio man get hit.  As he turned, a bullet hit his pack and knocked him to the ground.  He crawled back on an angle and made it back to a different company.  He fought with them for a few days before returning to Company A.  He was told that he had gotten back just in time because he was going to be listed as Missing In Action and a telegram would be sent to his wife. When he finally opened his pack, he had found that a bullet had ripped through it, tearing a hole through a fresh pair of wool socks that were given to him, and other GI's as a gift from the children of England.


On January 7th, 1945, just after midnight, Leonard was sharing a foxhole with a friend from basic training.  They were on 50 percent alert, which meant that one man could sleep while the other was on watch.  Leonard was on watch when he heard a rustling in the trees in front of him.  He raised his rifle to fire, but the german fired first, hitting him in the leg and knocking him down into a gully.  His friend in the foxhole fired an entire 8 round clip into the german, then rushed to his aid, and after bandaging his leg and making him take the packet of sulfa tablets in his first aid kit, he was told he had been shot by a german dressed in an American uniform with an American 45. Automatic. They suspected that the german was trying to get back to his own lines when he was spotted.  It was so cold, he didn't realize how much pain he was in until after the long slow ride on the hood of a Jeep brought him to the aid station, and he warmed up. The medic gave him a shot of morphine and then told him he was going to get some sleep because he was exhausted.  Leonard suffered in silence all night when the morphine wore off because he didn't want to wake the tired medic.  When the medic woke up and found out how much pain he was in he yelled at Leonard for not waking him, and that it was his job to look after him.  After he awoke from surgery, the doctor checked on him, told him that the surgery went well, and then presented him with a pen knife with a 45. caliber bullet lodged in it. The bullet had passed through his leg and lodged in the pen knife which he had kept in his back pocket. The Doctor told him he had a souvenir, and that he was lucky because if the bullet had hit him one centimeter over, he would have been crippled for life.  It would be a month and a lot of physical therapy before he was sent back to duty as an MP and promoted to Corporal.


Written by Victor Pepitone, Grandson of Pvt. Leonard Pipitone


Bullet that passed through Pvt. Pipitone's leg and lodged in his pocket knife

Pvt Leonard Pipitone Pvt Leonard Pipitone Pvt Leonard Pipitone

Photo Leonard Pipitone sent to his wife to prove that he had not lost his leg as a result of being wounded.


Thanks to Victor Pepitone for this information and the pictures of his grandfather.

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