Lodato Crew Page

M.L. Marshall sent me a copy of this letter that PPC Lodato sent to M.L. Marshall's parents right after the war ended:

Thursday, 11 October (1945)

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Marshall,

I've been meaning to write this letter to you for some time now, but it took a little time for me to get used to being home again.

I'd like to tell you just how your son, Marion, was injured and how manfully he reacted to the tragic result of his wound. First, though, I should tell you that I was plane commander of the crew with which Marion flew.

Your son was one of the most quietly efficient persons I've ever known. Being first ordnanceman in the crew, he was responsible for all guns and bombs in the plane. During the time he flew with us, we were never bothered by ordnance troubles in the air. Besides being an excellent maintenance man, Marion was conceded to be the best shot in the crew. His gun station was the port waist turret, probably the most dangerous station since the pilot sits on the port side of the plane and makes most of his attacking turns to that side. I suggested that he switch with the other waist turret, but he would have none of it; he wanted to do as much damage as he could. I appreciated his spirit and tried to favor him as much as I could, knowing he could do more damage with fewer rounds than any other man in my crew. One day, for instance, he took a small oiler under fire while I was attacking another ship in a convoy. All by himself he set this oiler afire so that, on one run, we accounted for two ships.

On the day he was hurt we were one of a four plane section sent to hit a harbor on the east coast of Korea. We did our damage there and had started for home when we came across an important rail junction. "Marsh" was hit while I was making a run on the freight yard. He saw the explosion of the bomb and then was hit. He told me his trouble, whereupon I sent two men back to help him, and told the other planes I was going home. We did the best we could for him in the plane, giving him morphine to stop his pain and blood plasma to reduce the shock he had suffered. I headed for our base as fast as I dared and had everything ready when we landed. The plane had only 80 gallons of gas left when we came to a stop at the end of the runway where the ambulance was waiting for us.

The odds were against your son. The bullet hit his arm in exactly the worst place possible; the doctors had no choice other than to amputate. We went down to the hospital almost daily to see him, and my first radioman took especial care that Marion should want for nothing. The night before he left for Guam we all saw that your son was all right. He was used to the idea that he would finish his life with only one and a half arms. Please don't make a fuss over him; it's the one thing he doesn't want. Maybe it seems cruel for me to say this, but it would do your boy a world of good if you could regard his misfortune as something of no more importance than a black eye or a bloody nose. Above all, don't ever get the idea that he's helpless; he isn't - and, even if you can't help thinking this for a while, don't ever let him guess your thoughts in any way.

As for me, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, since I was first pilot of the plane, I can't help but feel responsible for what's happened to "Marsh." It seems to me that, in some way I should have been able to prevent any injury to him or to anyone else in the crew. In the case of the others I was successful. In the case of your boy, the odds were against us. If he had had his elbow down, if the bullet had been an inch off either way, he'd be back with you good as new - but "if's" never got anyone anyplace. I'm sure he's not thinking about "if's" and I don't think he'd want you to. Despite what happened, if I were faced with the same situation I would make my attack in exactly the same way, because it still seems the best and safest way. I only hop you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for what happened to Marion.

I have not heard from him since we left Okinawa.I knew that he was expecting to go to Mare Island to get a new arm and had promised to write each of us a letter as soon as he was able. By now he may be back home with you; he must certainly have gotten in touch with you. Would you please remember me to him and tell him that I'm still waiting for that letter?

Yours very truly,
A.M. Lodato

Here is a copy of the Purple Heart Citation Marion received: