The tall, freckle-faced American strolled casually into the elegant hotel room as though he owned the entire premises. Twelve German officers were seated at a polished table; outside, hundreds of heavily armed enemy troops were busy turning the Italian town into a fortress. The American eyed the Germans and said, "I've come to offer you a chance to surrender before we start our air bombardment and ground attack."1 First Lieutenant George M. Hearn, USMCR, was about to accomplish one of the most dramatic coups of any OSS officer in World War II.
"One Marine ... Eleven Hundred Germans"
Lieutenant Hearn was dirty and unarmed, but he made an immediate impression nonetheless. Over six feet tall and heavily muscled, he looked like a football player and soke with the authority of a commander. Both descriptions were accurate, although his command was hardly one to strike fear into the assembled enemy. What was highly inaccurate was his assertion that the city of Chioggia was marked for imminent attack. Hearn's airplanes did not exist and his ground troops amounted to a handful of guerillas and six Italian Marines.
George Hearn had entered the Marine Corps in 1943 following graduation from San Jose State College in California. Commissioned on 1December, he immediately volunteered for duty with OSS and was so detailed once his basic Marine training had been completed.
Hearn was initially assigned to the operating base at Algiers. later he became a member of the Maritime Unit operating in the Adriatic.
His first job involved the training and conduct of clandestine agent and sabotage infiltrations by cabin cruiser and rubber boat along the northern Italian coastline.
By mid-1944, the Allied drive in Italy had been stymied by Field Marshall Kesselring's Goth Line. All attempts to batter through the mountain defenses brought heavy casualties to the British Eighth and U.S. Fifth Armies. Clearly, flanking attacks from the sea were called for. But Anzio and Salerno had been costly near-failures, and the bulk of Allied shipping was tied up in supporting the "main" fronts in Normandy and southern France.
Raids, on the other hand, might bring such chaos to the German rear area that any penetration of the Gothic Line would unhinge the whole system. To accomplish just this task, OSS began a series of supply runs to the Italian partisans operating north of the Po River.
In northern Italy, six principal anti-Fascist parties had banded together to form the Comitato di Liberazione per l'Alta Italia, commonly referred to as CLNAI. Headquarters of the resistance was centered in the industrial city of Milano. In November 1944, several top CLNAI leaders, including future premier Ferruccio Parri, were smuggled out of Italy through neutral Switzerland by the OSS. "On 7 December 1944 an agreement was signed by SACMED authority whereby OSS and SOE would each allocate 80 million lire per month to support CLNAI. This money would be repaid to the British and American Governments after the war.
In the summer, fall and winter of 1944, OSS was instrumental in harnessing resistance groups throughout North Italy and forging
them into a weapon that could create a major diversion of German effort on the Italian front. In the interior, partisan bands were equipped and trained and their operations coordinated for maximum effectiveness.2
Lieutenant Hearn and his associates were concerned lest major partisan operations begin too soon. The Po Delta area was a major agricultural region. Three hundred years before, the Venetians had begun building a vast system of dams, dikes, and bypasses which resulted in changing the entire course of the Po. Napoleon had also conducted extensive engineering projects in the vicinity. If the Germans destroyed the dams and pumping stations, not only would the Po become a nightmare for the Italians, but it would also present the advancing Allied armies with a water barrier as formidable as the mountains.
It was a ticklish situation, and when the British and American advance began in earnest in early 1945, the partisans grew increasingly restive. By mid-April, Bologna had been liberated and the guerillas were itching to commence operations. OSS operative who continued urging restraint were greeted with mal occhio--the evil eye.
Just south of the mouth of the Po is a large island, the Isola Donzella. OSS planned to use this as a main supply base, but the Germans struck, first. On 20 April, they attacked the island, which was defended by several companies of poorly armed irregulars. For two days a eries of short but bitter fights erupted up and down Donzella. The guerillas had one important advantage--they knew the island's terrain backward and forward. Eventually the Germans decided to cut their losses. On 22 April, most retreated back to
the mainland, blowing the only connecting bridge on their way out and killing all farm animals upon which they laid eyes.
That morning,OSS headquarters in Ravenna asked for a volunteer to join the partisans on Isola Donzella. Lieutenant Hearn jumped at the opportunity. Accompanied by Corporal Peter Rago--an American GI from Staten Island--and six members of the San Marco Marine Regiment,Royal Italian Navy, Hearn boarded a Chris-Craft and set course northward. Seldom had the Maritime Unit operated in daylight (Hearn had done 20 previous missions at night), but the Luftwaffe had been gradually expunged form the Italian sky and the little motor yacht made the passage without incident.
Once ashore, Hearn learned that some enemy troops still occupied the northeastern tip of the island and were holed up in the small village of Ca Tiepolo. There were now about 300 guerillas on hand, all of whom were anxious for Hearn to lead them. Moving toward Ca Tiepolo, Hearn and his motley force came under sporadic rifle and machine gun fire. Soon German artillery began accurate fires from the mainland as well. The Italians wavered.
Sensing that the position was too strong to attack, Hearn and his San Marco Marines set about establishing a rough defensive line. This proved a wise precaution. Soon after sundown, the enemy made a bid to rout the guerillas by a surprise attack.
Amidst the crack of the shells, the chatter of machine guns, the crump of mortars, and glowing red star clusters, he, his San Marco Marines, and his one Corporal were tiny desperate figures running up and down the frontline partisan positions. Hearn and his men encouraged them to fight, to stand their ground, not to flee before the violent German pressure. . . . the advance was checked.3
The next morning,Hearn took stock of the situation. Although the enemy had not been crushed, he continued to control most of the portion of Donzella which overlooked the mouth of the Po. This ruled out any German retreat across the river on the mainland. But seven miles upriver was a major ferry point. Hearn wanted to block that route as well, but first he needed to eliminate any possibility of further acton on the island. The only solution was to launch another attack.
Taking the only bazooka in the guerillas' small arsenal, Hearn crawled to within a hundred yards of the main German position. Two quick rockets sent sandbags flying. Then, three of his Marines rushed the bunker. Heartened, the guerillas followed this lead and within 90 minutes the island was theirs. Twenty Germans surrendered, the rest were either killed or managed to escape to the mainland.
His rear secure, Hearn sent a patrol of twenty guerillas and one Italian Marine NCO across to the mainland. Six hours later, this little group returned with the news that the Germans were pulling out northward; good ambush sites were available; and the populace was waiting for "liberation."
Emboldened by the patrol report, Hearn picked 40 men and headed for the ferry.
After a three-hour march, the ambush party reached their harbor site. Hearn's men were now several miles inland and well over a hundred miles ahead of the advancing British Eighth Army. They set up their two mortars, laid out fields of fire for the pair of machine guns, and waited.
Within an hour, two German trucks appeared. Both were loaded with troops. Hearn calculated the range and dropped a 60mm mortar bomb dead center on the first truck. The machine guns opened fire. It was over in two minutes. Dead soldiers littered the road and the living had their hands skyward. The guerillas cleared the road, posted a guard on the prisoners and resumed their firing positions. Forty-five minutes later the same scene was reenacted.
For most of the day, Hearn's group kept to this script. The ferry was out of earshot and worked so slowly that only two or three truckloads could be moved across at one time. Proceeding piecemeal, the convoy was methodically chopped to pieces without a single friendly casualty. Just before dusk, Hearn withdrew back to the island and radioed the day's results to Ravenna: thus far he had knocked out a dozen vehicles, killed nearly a hundred Germans, and had a growing bag of POWs. In response to this news, OSS despatched two resupply drops and promised reinforcements.
During the night, the planes came over and parachuted additional arms and ammunition to Donzella.Then Hearn got his first sleep in more than 3 days.
At ten o'clock the next morning, several landing craft flying the White Ensign of Britain's Royal navy growled into the Po's estuary.On board were 60 wind-burned veterans of the Long Range Desert Group's "Special Demolition Squadron Number 1," better known as Popski's Private Army. With them they brought six more San Marco Marines, additional weapons and supplies, and their own favorite mode of transport: 20 jeeps, each mounting a .50 caliber machine gun.4
Popski's men had orders to sweep inland and roar about the countryside in their accustomed fashion shooting up everything German that moved. Hearn was to facilitate their operations by going back to the mainland himself and organizing guerilla support for both the PPA and the advancing Allied ground troops.
Fifteen miles to the north was the Adige River. Beyond that lay the Brenta River, which empties in the Lagoon of Venice. The principal defensive terrain in the region was occupied by the town of Chioggia, an old fortress. The Germans were concentrating their forces there. Hearn organized a 35-man patrol and moved out.
After five hours of steady by cautious advance, they reached the Adige. No Germans had been seen, so Hearn commandeered two small fishing boats and crossed the river. The Brenta was three miles further . . . still no resistance. Just as dusk was settling on the mountains to the west, the first contact occurred.
A strong German outpost on the south side of the Brenta opened fire on the patrol's advance guard. Hearn immediately posted his men in front of the blocking position and, taking the remainder, circled around to the right. Soon he had the enemy caught with the river to their backs and a turned flank. Forty-five more sets of hands were raised.
That night, dozens of refugees from Chioggia filtered through Hearn's perimeter, One told an interesting story. "The German," he said, "are evacuating. By tomorrow there will only be twenty or thirty left in the city." This news prompted the Lieutenant to enter the town proper.
Before dawn, Hearn and Corporal Rago set out toward Chioggia with a small party of Marines and guerillas. Soon they met an Italian fisherman who was headed into the city. With Rago interpreting, Hearn asked the man if he had hear anything about the Germans' leaving or wanting to surrender. The fisherman replied that he had indeed hear such rumors. Hearn told him to go and find a German officer and tell him that the American Army was advancing and that an American officer wanted to parlay.
Within fifteen minutes, three Germans carrying a white flag appeared. Hearn told them he had been sent to accept the surrender of Chioggia. They eyed him suspiciously and said they needed to discuss this with their commander, perhaps the American would like to accompany them? Hearn instantly started to sweat. How many commanders could thirty troops have>
Turning to Rago, the only other American within a hundred miles, Hearn said, "Go back to our men and tell them to hold their fire until I return." In a few minutes, Rago was back (it did not take long to "pass the word" to 35 men) and the two OSS men headed for town with the German officers.
In ten minutes we were in the town proper. One glance at the streets and I knew my worst fears were justified. For the first time a sharp sense of personal fear hit me. Hundreds of heavily armed German troops were milling around; every second one had an automatic weapon slung over his shoulder. Barbed wire and sand bagged buildings were everywhere. Surrender? If ever a place looked ready for a fight this was it.5
Hearn and Rago were escorted to the main hotel, which doubled as the Kommandatur. There the Lieutenant met his twelve Germans. The senior officer, a Kriegsmarine Captain, signalled for him to take a seat. Hearn began, "I am Lieutenant George Hearn of the United States Army. I am in command of the forward scouting unit of my regiment. . . .6 In graphic detail, the Lieutenant explained that the Air Corps was about to launch a devastating raid on Chioggia, and that only an immediate surrender could prevent further bloodshed. The Germans glanced at each other and whispered back and forth. Finally, the Captain asked, "If I agree to surrender can you call off the air attack immediately?"
Now was the time for "poker nerves," and Hearn had them.
"I will call off the Air Force as soon as I return to my unit," he said. "And, by the way," Hearn continued, "exactly how many men will you be surrendering?"
"Eleven hundred," came the reply. Eleven hundred! Hearn's mind reeled. He had barely enough food for his own men. How in the devil was he going to cope with over a thousand POWs? While he did some fast calculating, the Lieutenant's blue eyes never wavered. He explained that he would be back at two o'clock to work out the final details. The Germans seemed anxious to get it over with, so why not accommodate them?
Hearn rose, saluted, and marched out. Then he and Rago climbed into a waiting horse-drawn cart and drove slowly out of the city. Back at his guerilla command post, Hearn immediately sent men in every direction to search for the PPA. At least they looked like an advance guard.
It was one-thirty when a jeep carrying Lieutenant Harold S.C. Wallbridge of Popski's "R" Patrol came roaring into view. Steve Wallbridge listened incredulously to Hearn's story. He had gotten the message that something was brewing at Chioggia, but that was all. Wallbridge's arrival raised the "Allied" strength to six jeeps and to men. With two Second Lieutenants now on the scene, the German position was surely hopeless!
While the PPA jeeps swung downriver to find a bridge, Hearn and Wallbridge requisitioned two bicycles and pedaled furiously back into the town. Arriving at the Kommandatur, Hearn announced that the air attack had indeed been cancelled
and that the "main Allied force" would bypass the city to avoid any incidents. Soon, additional reconnaissance troops would arrive. The Germans accepted it all as gospel.
That night, German and British soldiers jointly patrolled the streets of chioggia. The majority of the garrison was directed to stack its arms and withdraw to the coastal defense positions overlooking the Adriatic approaches to Venice. The German commander turned over all of his files, including a complete chart of the barrier mine field. In addition to the bag of prisoners, Hearn and Wallbridge inventoried eight batteries of 88mm dual purpose guns and a battery of coast artillery. It took two days for the first regular army units to reach the area and relieve the lieutenants of their charges. Ironically, the division assigned to this duty was Italian and had never before liberated a town.
Lieutenant Hearn received the Bronze Star for his daring coup at Chioggia. Today it seems a small reward. The Italian Government was more grateful. Hearn was one of only a handful of OSS officers to receive the Silver Medal for Military Valor. His citations reads in part:
. . . assigned to duty with the Saboteur Unit of the San Marco Marine Regiment, Royal Italian Navy, he took part in 30 operations behind enemy lines. During a series of bold and successful actions carried out with saboteur squads and partisan groups, Lieutenant Hearn participated in the liberation of a large area of the national territory, alone he captured the city of Chioggia, together with 1400 prisoners. . . .7
For Valor--Certificate to Accompany Award of the Silver Medal of Valor by the Italian Government to 1st Lieutenant George Hearn, USMCR
Lieutenant Hearn celebrated the final victory in Italy in Venice. During his debriefing, he wondered what the Corps would think of an officer who passed himself off as an Army lieutenant. Musing, Hearn said, "They'll probably just say one Marine should be able to take those eleven hundred Germans prisoner."8
Like many members of OSS who served behind the lines in Europe, Hearn was quickly transferred to the Far East. He was in China when Japan capitulated. After the war, he returned to his native North Carolina and became an automobile dealer.
Hearn's mission was one of the last in a long series of OSS operations in Italy. While a number of Marines were involved there, the activities of two are especially worthy of mention.
Captain Elmer Harris was the Marine Officer whose wounds in North Africa provided Peter Ortiz' entré into the SOE BRANDON operation. Born in Ketchikan, Alaska Territory, Harris was a regular officer. Commissioned on 28 March 1942, he completed the three month Basic School course at Marine Barracks, Philadelphia, and upon graduation was assigned to the newly formed Ninth Marines in San Diego.
Having had pre-war experience with boats as marine representative for General Petroleum Corporation, Harris was one of the first Marine officers recruited as an OSS instructor. During August 1942,
Harris was sent to the secret SOE training school at Oshawa, Canada. Upon completion of the clandestine warfare course, Harris was assigned to the OSS parachute training unit at Area "A" near Quantico as an instructor.
In late December 1942, Harris was selected for the initial OSS Operation Group contingent in North Africa. Under the usual cover of "Marine Corps Observer," Harris reported to Colonel Eddy in Tangier. Shortly thereafter he was wounded near Sbeitla, Algeria.9
His wounds healed, Harris continued to work with the OSS staff attached to Allied Headquarters in Algiers. On the night of 8 September 1943, when the government of Italy surrendered and declared for the Allies, maquis groups all over the island of Corsica rose in revolt.* Seizing the main radio station, the guerillas began broadcasting appeals to the U.S. command in North Africa for assistance.
French headquarters hastily prepared the Battalion de Choc and several units of Moroccan and Algerian troops, as a skeleton Expeditionary Force to aid in the liberation of the island. AFHQ requested OSS to supply troops as a token Allied force to accompany the French.
Donovan selected one Operational Group (OG) of two officers and thirty men to carry out the mission . . .10
One of them was First Lieutenant Harris.
*The word maquis,which was adopted to describe all active resistance groups in France, is of Corsican derivation. Its literal meaning is a scrubby, tough, native bush.
The North African ports were in turmoil as French warships embarked the rag-tag brigade. Luckily for the Allies, the German signal intercept service had been badly decimated in the retreat of Rommel's Afrika Korps, and a few of the frantic operational messages which flashed back and forth among the invasion force were picked up.11
On 17 September,. Harris and the other OG personnel landed unopposed at Ajaccio, the principal Corsican city.* They found the situation to be thoroughly confused and as complicated as the recent helter skelter embarkation scene on the Algerian docks. Corsica is almost 120 miles long and as much as 50 miles wide in certain places. Mountains are everywhere with more than a few rising better than 6,000 feet above the sea. While there were plenty of willingmaquisards, there were also some 80,000 troops and a few battalions of Germans. The majority of these were in no mood to seek combat and were rather attempting to escape to nearby Sardinia across the Bonifacio Strait.
The Operational Group moved northward with the French combat troops hoping to block the Axis withdrawal. But going cross-country n Corsica is a task suited better to mountain goats than men. Progress was agonizingly slow and the natives proved far more interested in rounding up Italians--whom they have hated for centuries--than in fighting Germans. The French commander reproved the maquis for this attitude, and was promptly labelled a typical metropolitan snob. The entire operation degenerated into name calling, and while Corsica was freed,
*In addition to being the Corsican capital, Agaccio prides itself more properly on being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte.
most of the Germans got away.
By mid-October 1943, the Corsican campaign was over. OSS immediately established a base there for operations against occupied France and those party of Italy still controlled buy the German Army. Harris returned to Algiers and then proceeded to Brindisi where, as a member of the Fifth Army's OSS detachment, he was directed to establish a program for training agents to parachute into North Italy and France.
In April 1944, Harris began to suffer acute abdominal pains. His condition soon became so severe that he was evacuated to Bethesda Naval Hospital. When initial diagnosis failed to reveal the exact nature of his medical problem, Harris was placed on "light duty" at OSS Headquarters. Obviously, a different perception of that term existed in 1944 than is commonly held today. Harris' assignment was to proceed to Guantanamo Bay and carry out UDT operations designed to rid the anchorage of outmoded anti-submarine nets. Having accomplished this,he was posted to the OSS Underwater Swimmer School at Catalina Island as an instructor.
In November 1944, the abdominal pains came back. Hospitalized once again he underwent surgery for intestinal ulcers. In December, he was released back to full duty and finished the war as Commanding Officer of the OSS Air Operations Unit and Parachute School in China. For his service, there, Harris was awarded the Legion of Merit.12
Another OSS Marine who cut his combat teeth in Italy was Second Lieutenant Walter W. Taylor, the officer who joined Ortiz' escape party from Westertimke's forced march.*
Taylor was a tall, lean Harvard PhD. who also happened to be a neighbor of General Donovan on New York's elegant Sutton Place. Twenty-nine years old, Taylor had graduated from Yale in 1935, and continued his education in Cambridge at Harvard. Like Charlotte Gower, he was an anthropologist. He spoke fluent Spanish--which he learned as a boy in South Texas--and also some French. Taylor was commissioned in 1943 and ordered to Camp Lejeune. He spent only a few months there before volunteering for OSS.
On 20 September 1943 I was directed to report to OSS in Washington. Upon arrival I was told to go to the Interior Control Board at the Main Navy Building. This proved to be a mistake but before that fact was realized, I had been interviewed by American and Chinese officers and was accepted for some kind of duty. When the error was discovered, I reported to "Q" Building--the OSS processing station--but the Interior Control Board wanted me back. This was not congenial to OSS. I was assigned to the Special Operation Branch and sent off to a two week sabotage school.13
Taylor was anxious to put his new knowledge to work, but instead was told to do a "staff study" of the communications system of southern France. He escaped from what loomed as an extensive project by requesting an immediate transfer to the Training Branch SO school in Algiers as an instructor.
*See Chapter IX of this paper.
His assignment approved, Taylor flew to North Africa in December 1943, where he was immediately involved in preparing SO agents for missions into France and Italy. After graduating from the SO parachute course, Taylor left Algiers in March 1944 to Corsica. There he became a member of the SI team whose mission was the infiltration of agents and radio operators into enemy territory.
Between March and July, Taylor participated in twenty operations. Since these were limited to period of no moon, the pace was frantic. Taylor was frequently running an operation every night for 8-10 days at a time. While the locales were varied, each mission had several basic similarities. Launching and pick-up were accomplished with PT boats and rubber dinghies. Taylor would do the initial map study and briefing; plan the loading of the boats; locate the drop-off points; and then go ashore himself to conduct a brief personal reconnaissance of the area. It sounds simple enough, but there was a very decided "catch" . . . the Germans patrolled the infiltration areas both on land and at sea. Agents who were caught could expect no mercy.
On the night of 22 June 1944, Taylor found himself rocking gently to and fro in a rubber boat about 300 yards off the Italian coast. Nearby was a second dinghy. All told there were five men spread between the boats: two British dinghymen, two Italian agents, and one Marine Second Lieutenant. The shoreline was dark and everything appeared to indicate a routine insertion.
The mission, codenamed MONREAL/LOCUST, was proceeding normally. Taylor planned to land the party, ensure that the area was deserted and then return to the waiting Air Rescue Boat which had brought the party from Corsica.
When the dingies were about 150 yards from shore, the motors of the ARB were suddenly started and immediately a red flare lit up the coast; gunfire began at once and the ARB raced out to sea. In the dingies, I gave the order to "freeze" while the flares were alight and only to row when they extinguished. Since the area was almost continuous[ly] illuminated for the following fifteen minutes, little progress was made. However, the light did provide amply [sic] opportunity for study of the coastline and it was learned that the pinpoint did not lie directly ahead. When the flares and gunfire stopped, the dingies were directed North. After proceeding but a little way it was realized that we were going in the wrong direction but since the enemy had been alerted, I decided to look for a new landing spot, which had been indicated in a previous study of aerial photographs.14
The ARB was gone, but Taylor continued the mission. Soon the dinghies were beached and the agents unloaded. The landing had been made at the base of a sheer cliff. Cautiously, Taylor explored the area and found a small trail leading away from the little cove. After a hushed conversation and final "good luck's," the agent began moving inland. Taylor and his two British counterparts were now faced with the problem of being on a hostile shore some hundred miles behind the enemy lines. One rubber boat had been punctured in the landing and the radio was dead.
It was nearly 0200, and Taylor made the decision to return seaward in the single good rubber boat in hopes that the ARB would return to the area. After twenty minutes of hard paddling, the rescue ship was spotted. Unfortunately, the Germans found the ARB at almost precisely the same time. Tracers began zinging through the night sky, and a German patrol boat swept into view.
One again the ARB's engines roared to life and the craft headed out to sea. Flare light bathed the area, and only the shadow of the waves prevented Taylor's little group from being discovered. The German patrol boat passed so close to the men huddled in the dinghy that the voices of the crew and the thud of their shoes on the metal deck could be clearly heard.
WHen the gunfire and flares had ceased, Taylor decided that the chance of a pick-up that night were gone.Fifty miles away was the largely uninhabited island of Gorgona. The decision was made to try and row there. The men had only a box of emergency rations and no water. Dawn was but a few hours away.
At 0530, as first light began to break in the East, the wind picked up. Naturally, it was blowing in the wrong direction. At 0600, rain squalls developed and the little dinghy was pitched about like a cork. It was not until four or five hours later that the wind shifted to the Southwest. By that time, despite
continuous rowing, little headway had been made. Three men in a rubber boat were sitting a few miles off the Italian coast in broad daylight. Taylor had few options, Gorgona was now out of the question, and the water would only last for a day and a half at the outside. Consequently, it was determined that the only course of action was to remain in the immediate vicinity, pray that no German ships or aircraft passed, and trust to the Corsica operations staff.
All that day, the three men took turns rowing the boat in one direction and having the wind push it back again. When night fell, they were dog-tired but undetected. Taylor took the dinghy back to within 1,000 yards of the pinpoint and waited.
At about midnight, an enemy convoy passed with much flashing of signal lights. Thirty minutes later, Taylor began signalling to seaward with his red flashlight. A few more minutes passed, and suddenly the sound of engines rumbled across the water. Taylor signalled again. No response.
Out of the darkness loomed the ARB. It was moving slowly toward shore. More signals with the flashlight yielded no recognition. Summoning their last ounce of strength, the men began rowing after the ARB, flashing the light and whistling. The power boat disappeared.
Now in a panic, Taylor removed the red filter from his light and began sweeping it around the area. This was guaranteed to get results from the shore, but it paid off, As the first
rounds began falling into the water around them, the ARB hove to. Taylor and the two dingymen scrambled aboard. This time the flares and tracers were left permanently behind. For his coolness in continuing the mission, and his leadership in enemy territory, Second Lieutenant Taylor was awarded the Bronze Star. His citation reads in part:
Under fire on three occasions during two successive nights southeast of Genoa, and constantly in peril in enemy waters and ashore far from our lines, Second Lieutenant Taylor conducted himself with coolness and heroism to successfully carry out an important mission.15
George Hearn left the Marine Corps in 1946 and returned to his home state of North Carolina, where he opened his own automobile dealership. Elmer Harris helped pioneer the Alaskan wilderness as part of a group of businessmen involved in local aircraft companies. Walter Taylor was flown back to the United States upon his POW camp's liberation. He remained active in the Marine Corps Reserve until the mid-1950's, when he moved to Mexico as part of his job with the University of New Mexico's anthropology program.
Before the Salerno landings, OSS had very limited experience in tying together the full range of activities associated with both clandestine operations and intelligence gathering functions. The lessons learned there stood the Allies in good stead during both OVERLORD and ANVIL. But all of these lessons were necessary in order to crack the toughest nut of them all: Germany itself.
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