EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – The men of Company E of the 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, have a statue in their honor and it will be unveiled on Thursday by the City of El Paso Museum of Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD).
Treacherous Crossing, in honor of the fallen soldiers of the Men of Company E, will take place at 9 a.m., June 30, in Cleveland Square Park, 510 North Santa Fe, will be followed by a reception at the El Paso Museum of History.
The statue depicts the Men of Company E’s crossing of Italy’s Rapido River in 1944, one of the most dangerous missions of World War II with the ultimate goal of liberating Rome.
The memorial lists the names of El Paso soldiers who were part of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division deployed from Camp Edwards in Massachusetts to Italy, in April 1943, as well as all soldiers listed on the original memorial. The statue was funded through the Public Art Program with additional support from Community En Accion.
Company E was the only Mexican-American unit in the Army during World War II.
On the night of January 21, 1944, a group of young soldiers from El Paso were sent to Southern Italy on a mission to cross the Rapido River. Amidst World War II, the river was heavily fortified by the German Army, making it what some historians describe as one of the most insurmountable missions of World War II.
The Men of Company E, now referred to as the Fallen Sons of El Paso, were either killed, captured or wounded in the attempt to cross a waterway under heavy artillery fire, saturated with barbed wire, and riddled with mines.
The statue depicts the Men of Company E’s crossing of Italy’s Rapido River in 1944. Of the 154 men of Company E that crossed the Rapido in January 1944, only 27 returned from across the river.
The bronze and granite sculpture depicts the events of the Rapido River crossing by the Men of Company E as they bravely made their way through the river. A soldier is seen wounded and helped by his companion. The squad leader is leading the way to Monte Cassino as they are covered by two other soldiers resisting heavy enemy fire.
The unit remained an all-Mexican-American unit until it deployed to North Africa in April 1943. While in North Africa, the 36th Division was assigned to the Fifth Army under Gen. Mark Clark. On Sept. 9, 1943, the 36th spearheaded the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland at Salerno. It became the first American unit to fight Hitler’s forces on the European continent.
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