Soldiers with US Army Garrison Italy have returned a birthday cake members of the 88th Infantry Division stole from a 13-year-old Italian girl 77 years before during the Second World War.
The girl, Meri Mion, celebrated her 90th birthday on April 29, 2022. In recognition of the occasion, an event was held at Giardini Salvi, in Vicenza, close to where the 88th Infantry Division fought its way into the city on April 28, 1945.
That morning, US troops engaged in battle with German forces, resulting in at least 19 American soldiers suffering injuries or losing their lives. While the fighting was occurring, soldiers with the 91st Infantry Division drove north from the Riviera Berica into Vicenza.
They later paraded through Corso Palladio, the city’s thoroughfare, where residents offered them wine and bread.
Mion lived in the nearby village of San Pietro, in Gù. She’d spent the night of April 27, 1945 hiding with her mother in the attic of their farm, which sat along the town’s main road. While the Germans were retreating, they fired shots near the residence. When she and her mother awoke the next morning, American forces were nearby.
As her 13th birthday was the next day, Mion’s mother baked her a cake, which she placed on the windowsill to cool. It was then that it was taken by US soldiers.
The event on April 28, 1945 was attended by hundreds of Italian soldiers and veterans, local residents and officials, US veterans, and carabinieri. Sgt. Peter Wallis, who recently won the Installation Management Command – Europe Best Warrior contest, and Col. Matthew Gomlak, commander of US Army Garrison Italy, gave Mion a brand new cake to replace the one stolen all those decades ago.
Col. Gomlak spoke of the fighting that occurred and the welcome US soldiers received. “That warm welcome by the people of Vicenza continues to this day,” he said.
Mion planned to save the cake for the next day, saying, “Tomorrow, I will eat that dessert with all my family remembering this wonderful day that I will never forget.”