Russo, Ralph

Ralph Russo was born July 7, 1917 in Newcastle, Pennsylvania.  He grew up there against the backdrop of the Great Depression, when times were tough.  Ralph’s father was able to hold on to his job during that time, and Ralph picked up work at a local foundry.  When 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbour came, Ralph was inducted into the 29th Infantry Division of the US Army.  Training in Fort Meade and points south followed, and in 1942 the division was shipped overseas to England.  Much of the time there was spent in training, especially in beach areas such as Slapton Sands.  It was clear that the 29th would play a key role in the long awaited invasion of France when it came.  Ralph recalls at least twenty practice runs, and time spent in the briefing area before the original June 5, 1944 date.  Weather of course delayed them by a day, but on June 6 the men boarded the LCIs, heading towards Omaha Beach, where Ralph went ashore in the second wave.  The fighting was intense, and Ralph saw many fall as they struggled through the waves, across the beach and up and over the seawall.  Ralph saw the navy ships come close and destroy the pillboxes, clearing a path for the men to reach St-Laurent-sur-Mer.  Ralph was shot in the leg and foot at that time, but a medic was able to treat him.  From there he went back to the beach, to be treated in a converted LCI, and the decision was made to ship Ralph back to England, where he convalesced.  Ralph wanted to return to the unit, and after five months his wish was granted, and he was sent to Belgium just in time for the Battle of the Bulge.  But his foot was quickly aggravated and he was sent back to hospital, to England , and there the decision was made to return him to the United States.  His war over, Ralph healed from his wounds and married and raised a family,  falling into the rhythms of postwar life along with the other men og the “greatest generation”.  Ralph Russo was interviewed by Rishi Sharma in 2017, as part of his Heroes of WW2 project.  Rishi was kind enough to share videos with Mr. Masters when the two collaborated on interviews in southern Ontario.