A 94-year-old World War II veteran held a Reddit AMA, with the help of his grandson, in which he provides a startling look at his time serving behind Nazi lines as an intelligence staff sergeant.
John Cardinalli, who was sworn to secrecy for 65 years following the end of World War II, has taken to Reddit to explain his time with the Office of Strategic Intelligence (OSS). The OSS was the forerunner of the CIA, and it was dedicated to coordinating espionage and intelligence gathering behind enemy lines during WWII.
Cardinalli was unable to tell his story until the FBI and CIA declassified his mission in 2008. Now, realising the historical importance of his role, Cardinalli has written the book “65 Years of Secrecy” about his roles during the war.
In the AMA, Cardinalli explains of how he joined the OSS in the first place:
I got into the OSS while in the infantry in North Carolina and I saw a sign that said “Men Wanted for Hazardous Duty, Need to know Morse Code, and must speak a Foreign Language, which I am fluent in Italian”. There is more to the story of how I actually was accepted, it is all in my book. I am not trying to push my book, but it has everything in there. It is available on Amazon “65 Years of Secrecy by John Cardinalli.”
Cardinalli describes exact role:
My role was an agent behind enemy lines collecting information and radio back to allied forces. I was a master at Morse Code, which is how most of our communication was done.
He also briefly explained how the OSS teams functioned behind enemy lines:
I worked with a small team that were grouped in twos. The code name who was in charge of all these teams was named “The Dutchman”. There is a lot to this, but basically, but the groups all had a task and a name. For example, we had a “married couple” named jack and jill. Yes, I was in Holland and spent a lot of time hiding in windmills which were strategically chosen along Rhine River.
Cardinalli also shared the scariest thing he ever experienced:
Battle of the Bulge. Our team completely split up, by ourselves, with just radios to communicate. Everyone was completely on their own for 2 days.
The Battle of the Bulge was one of the last German offensives in Western Europe against the Allies, during which US forces sustained the brunt of the assault. It was the largest and bloodiest battle that the US took part in during WWII.
Despite the amazing adversity that Cardinalli had to fight through during WWII, he also admits that he never missed a chance to lightheartedly poke fun at his fellow team members:
One of my team members needed a hair cut and I told him I was the best Italian Barber in the military. I never cut hair in my life. I cut his and he looked like a dog with mange. He literally almost shot me.
Cardinalli also shared his advice for those thinking of joining the military:
If one was going to join the military, go into intelligence.