SHARE Holt Oral History Program
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Louis E. Celli, Tech-5

Drafted into the 104th Engineering Battalion at the age of 21, Louis E. Celli was quickly reassigned to the 50th Engineering Battalion in the Pacific, attached to the 50th Infantry Division, as a replacement for the heavy causalities that group had taken—and faced fierce fighting in the Aleutians, the Marshalls, the Philippines, Okinawa, and the Ryukus. Mr. Celli received a Purple Heart for injuries in Leyte that were the result of a Japanese bomb landing in a TNT storage bin close by.

Born in Chicago’s Jefferson Park, Mr. Louis E. Celli had a typical upbringing: playing touch football and “army” in the streets, roughhousing, and going to school. At 17, he dropped out in order to help his father and uncle drive dump trucks for a living. Mr. Celli was drafted into the Army in 1943, at the age of 21, but was already preparing to go.

A summary of the types of military experiences shared during his oral history interview is perhaps best stated by Mr. Celli himself. In recent years, finding himself invited to various schools to talk about his memories, Mr. Celli wrote a short letter to the students outlining his service (which he also recites for us in the interview):

"I was inducted into the Army January 23, 1943, and served until November2 6, 1945. I trained at Camp Roberts in California for 17 weeks in infantry and basic army life. Upon completion, I was sent to Fort Ord California for amphibious training. Upon completion, I was assigned to the 104th Engineering Battalion for a short period—then transferred to the 50th Engineering Battalion attached to the 7th Infantry division. The casualties [I] sustained required my transfer to the 50th. The invasions I took part in were H-Hour D-Day invasions in Kiska in the Aleutians, Guadeloupe in the Marshalls, Leyte in the Philippines, and Okinawa and Ryukus—and Korea for a brief occupation. I was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Medal with four battle stars; and a Philippine liberation with two battle stars; Pacific Victory Medal, Bronze Arrowhead, and the Bronze Arrow for anybody who lands in the assault waves and being in the initial assault; and the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in Leyte. Upon my discharge, and in civilian life, I worked with my father doing sales all over the country selling army equipment, which consisted of trucks and all kinds of jeeps. I also went into the trucking business with a partner and we were operating 50 tractors and semi-trailers. Some of them were brokers that we hired to haul things. Our partnership did not work out, so we sold and I went to work for American Airlines and retired in March of 1992 after 19 years."