Pierced Steel Planking: the gates of the war

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Old ties

by Pasquale Libutti


Journey through Basilicata
Mr. Jerry Whiting wrote me: in 1965 an American soldier of 485th BG went to Italy as a guest of a family known in Venosa during the war. 
Lieutenant Sy Weinstein was the 485th Bomb Groupís photographic officer.
He was in charge of installing and maintaining the large aerial cameras mounted in the B-24 bombers. 
He had to train its personnel, supervising the laboratory that processed the photos used for bomb damage assessment and aerial reconnaissance. 
Sometimes he was in bombing missions, in order to be sure that the crewmen responsible for operating the cameras aboard were properly trained. 
One of his jobs was to record the images of crashed aircraft in order to understand what contributed to the planeís loss.  
In his travels to the crash sites, which could be as much as 60 miles away, Sy Weinstein took pictures of the Italian countryside and its people. Sy Weinstein, during the war, was sent to the Southern France after the invasion, and later documented the horror of Dachau concentration camp in Germany. 
He deserved a medal, because he entered a mine-field, in order to rescue wounded people by the blast of mines, saving them.
"During his time in Soutern Italy, Sy developed a deep love for the people of region. After the war, he read Christ Stopped at Eboli, Carlo Leviís book about his exile in this poor but yet very beautiful area, and Sy recognized many of his own experiences and feelings. Sy continued to revisit this region throughout his life, spending time with the family of Dr. Morlino, who he had come to know during the war."
Sy Weinstein, Reconnaissance and Recollection Military and Civilian Photographs from World War II, Bnai Zion Hoouse, New York, 26.10.2003-12.12.2003; National Museum of American Jewish Military History, Washington D.C., 4.3.2004.
Therefore, Jerry Whiting asks me: can we find the Morlino family in Venosa, where in 1965 Sy Weinstein was a guest?
At this point, Renato Mancino consults the registrars office, and people with the same last name in the nearby towns of Acerenza and Forenza. 
Nothing. The search is in vain. 
Even with the photos sent from U.S.A. something still doesn't add up. The landscape in one of the photos shows a particular profile of mountains, impossible to see from Venosa.
This landscape guides me to search the site of Sy Weinsteinís stay in Basilicata: 20 miles from the Venosa airfield... Near Monticchio, on Mt. Vulture.
At last, with my friend Giuseppe Scarpino and his son Emilio, we find the same country home of the Morlinos, today a pleasant bed and breakfast
To the current owner, Mario Di Lucchio, maybe I appear as a strange character while I wander all around the building, the same seen in several of the photos of 1944. 
Mario gives me the telephone number of the Morlino family of Potenza (not from Venosa, as we thought) in order to call them. 
Jerry Whiting will supply this address to Gerry Weinstein, son of Sy. 
Contact found, mission accomplished.
Photo Sy Weinstein, 1944
Photo Sy Weinstein, 1944: visit to Dr. Morlino's family.
Photo Sy Weinstein, 1944: workers near the Morlino's countryhouse


PSP Sy jeep occhio 50.jpg (43878 byte)

Photo Sy Weinstein, 1944. In the first photo (click to enlarge): Mrs. Tilde Zanetti (married Morlino, lady of the house) with Ed Mc Neil and Louis Coffee of the 485th BG. In the second photo, we also see Mrs Carolina, sister-in-law of homelady, an unidentified officer and, to estreme left, Scenna, then the domestic help. In the third photo: the Morlino country home today. I forgotÖ the jeep also has a name: Coffee Grinder.
Photo Sy Weinstein, 1944: with Dr. Morlino's family
The Morlino's countryhouse today
Family album
To find old ties, one page of a photo album is enough. Antonio Di Vietri shows some photos of his father, Vincenzo di Vietri, who during the war was a tailor and, maybe thanks to his job is how he met the Americans of the Air Base. The page of the album doesn't have much information, only some dates and the writing "amici piloti (e ufficiali) - comp. 29 e 30":  "pilot (or officers) friends of the company 29 and 30" (maybe: 829th and 830th Squadrons).
The men in the first photo seem to be ground crew members; in the same photo you can see Tail Heavy, one of the original airplanes of the 485th BG, with his dark (olive-green) colour. Different airplanes appear in the other photos: latest B-24's models, as we can recognize from their silver colour. Antonio remembers: when his father was still alive, he had the names of the Americans framed in the photos.
The finding of these images encourages us to search again: we will sent all the photos, by email, to Jerry Whiting and to the other Veterans of the 485th Bomb Group Association.
Vincenzo Di Vietri, on 1947
Pierced Steel Planking: the gates of the war
HOME Pierced Steel Planking: the gates of the war 15th USAAF, Airfields  in Apulia
Thanks to the 485th BG Vets First contact Old ties
Mount Vulture, Old Sawtooth Life at the Venosa Airfield during World War II  The kids of Venosa and the airmen
Bombs Away, the magazine With the eyes of the children 2008: impressions
2008: return to base Bibliography & Links INFO
Search and texts: Pasquale Libutti   rapacidiurni@gmail.it       Page connected to www.storiedelsud.altervista.org