Hidden Secrets of a Soldier's Past Discovered in Attic
Council Bluffs, IA - Hand-written letters from a young man headed off to war. Secrets of a families past, hidden in an attic for decades.
"I couldn't put them down. It's like a life, somebody's life," said Leslie Wredt, who found the forgotten family treasures in her attic. Each letter was written by Constantino Chiea, a 20-year-old Omaha man who joined the army in 1943; 130 letters sent to his parents and sister and each one paints a story of life in the army.
"They're written basically just to keep his family upbeat because he didn't want them to be scared for him," said Wredt.
The letters describe the ordinary duties of a soldier at war. In a letter dated June 7, 1943, Constantino wrote, "They had me washing dishes, around 175 dishes at each meal...then I helped peel apples, I liked that." Three months later, Chiea wrote, "If anyone asks about me, tell them I'll write as soon as I can. So until next time, don't worry about me."
Suddenly, the letters stopped. Chiea's family learned he had been killed in action in Manziana, Italy.
Kurt Goetzinger has traced Chiea's story from Omaha to Italy. He learned Chiea and his platoon became heroes in the little town they helped save. A plaque honoring the men is now displayed in Manziana. "This one gentleman, Vincenzo, on the other side of the world in Italy," said Goetzinger, "was inspired to commemorate these soldiers who came into town and lost their lives doing so."
Constantino sent pictures in his last letter home, and ask his parents to save them, "Show them around but hang on to them. I want them when I get home."
Leslie found that final letter, but not the pictures. She plans to give the collection of letters to her stepson, a U.S.marine, so he can learn about the life of Constantino, his great, great uncle.
LESLIE'S STEPSON IS THE ARMY.
SHE PLANS TO GIVE HIM THE LETTERS SO HE CAN LEARN ABOUT THE LIFE OF CONSTANTINO CHIEA..HIS GREAT, GREAT UNCLE.