"The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II" is the subtitle of Matthew Parker's World War II book "Monte Cassino." The battle was fought in the worst-ever Italian winter against the best infantry and artillery Germany had to offer and in mountain terrain that the enemy had chosen to fortify and defend.
And fortify and defend it did.
Months and 350,000 casualties later, the battle ended with many of the American dead and wounded coming from two great National Guard divisions: mine, the 34th from Minnesota and Iowa, and the 36th of Texas.
My two sons were concerned that their father, an 85-year-old combat-wounded, battlefield-commissioned officer (and retired insurance executive), should see the National World War II Memorial before, well, you know. So four "boys," counting one grandson, visited the site.
When we arrived at the memorial, we studied the Southern Europe section. Salerno, Anzio and Rome, an open city, were engraved, but I saw nothing about Monte Cassino. One of the few guardsmen still alive, I survived that carnage. It distresses me greatly that the thousands killed and wounded there do not have their great battle recognized on the long-awaited memorial.
I also am a little disturbed that two U.S. senators, both of whom fought in Italy and were gravely wounded, forgot about Monte Cassino. Second Lt. Robert Dole's 10th Mountain Division was not there, but Capt. Daniel K. Inouye's "Go for Broke" battalion was. For quite a while it was attached to my 34th, and what a superb infantry it was. Do you suppose we three junior officers could get the omission fixed before we "fade away"?
IVAR H. AWE