EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a series published every Monday between Memorial Day and Veterans Day in honor of local veterans. To nominate a veteran, email Metro Editor-in-Chief Marly Reichert at [email protected]
BERLIN CENTER – Anthony Carerra was drafted during the Korean War, but his mission took him to another country and a different kind of mission.
Carerra graduated from Chaney High School in 1949. His early career saw him working with horses, but the pay was not enough for the time. He went to a rolling mill at McDonald’s and got a job and quickly adapted to using machinery. On February 19, 1951, he took another job.
“I never thought I would be drafted,” Carerra said. “The Korean war was getting worse instead of better, and when I was drafted I was sure I was heading for Korea.”
He trained and was assigned to the 47th Viking Division from Fort Rucker, Alabama. After a year he was sent to Fort Jackson, SC, to take the Infantry Commander’s Course.
“I was seventh out of 22,” he said. “It was a tough school and almost 30 people dropped out due to stress and mental fatigue.”
After training in June, Carerra was awarded the rank of corporal and was granted five days’ leave. He went home and got married. At the end of his short leave, he hugged his wife, Ellemarie, and headed for the coast for the overseas trip.
“The first rumor I heard was that we would be sent as the 47th Division,” he said. “Then we found out that we were shipped individually wherever there was a need. I was lucky to find myself in Germany with the 112th Infantry Regiment.
In Germany, Carerra’s new outfit was sent to the Swiss border where he stayed for two weeks before joining a regular rifle company, which Carerra trained for in the United States.
“I was in the Black Forest for two days before a sergeant put me on a bus back to Germany,” Carerra said. “This sergeant swore I was his buddy from California, and he wanted me for an army football team.”
Although he didn’t know the sergeant, he tried for the team and was successful.
“Football was considered a special duty,” he said, “We were sent all over Germany to play.”
He said the teams tend to follow the Russian movement on the front lines. Where the Russians were going, Carerra’s kit and football team would go. He said football helps keep everyone active and ready in case things turn sour with the Russian situation.
“We were waiting,” he said. “At any time during a football match, we could immediately stop and be deployed and all civilians sent home. ”
Football continued until November 1952. Carerra played hard and ended up with a one-game scar. He said it was a kickoff, and he ran onto the field and a kid jumped up to catch the ball and kicked it in the mouth.
“As the German doctor was elbowing me he said ‘American football freaks’,” Carerra said.
After the season ended, Carerra’s outfit was sent back to the front lines in the Black Forest. He quickly learned to wear extra socks, shorts, and a candle.
“When it was cold the only warmth we had was to place the candle under our poncho and sleep sitting against a tree,” he said. “We were still on alert, but nothing happened.”
Because of her leadership training, Carerra was recalled to the company barracks, away from the front line. He was put in a dormitory with eight Puerto Rican soldiers, who spoke almost no English. In no time, Carerra trained the eight men. He said they had the best room in the barracks during the inspections.
On February 1, 1953, Carerra was ordered to “gather his things” as he returned home. He was placed on a Navy ship which endured rough seas on the way home. After returning home, Carerra remained in the Army Reserves until December 17, 1956.
“I was lucky,” he says. “Many of the children in my original unit never made it home.”
Carerra continued to use her teaching skills to become the first machinist trade instructor of the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center. It took him 30 years to retire and enjoy life in his home in central Berlin. He always offers advice to 4-H kids with horses.
As for his scar, many wonder if it was an old football injury or a war injury. Perhaps it was both for a veteran who saw a different side of the Quran’s war era.