Steve Antosy, Witness to History, Tells of Participation In D-Day Invasion, Battle of the Bulge and Nuremberg War Trials at Lacy Park Ceremony
There are those who make history, those who witness history and those who study history. San Marino resident and United States Army veteran Steve Antosy easily qualifies in all three categories, a fact that delighted and awed those in attendance on Monday morning at Lacy Park for the city’s acknowledgement of Memorial Day.
Antosy, 91, participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and then later covered the Nuremberg War Trials, a trifecta that can probably not be claimed by anyone else who has ever walked the earth. Wearing a cap emblazoned with the words “US Army Amphibious Forces, WWII” and sporting a few of the many decorations he received in service to our country, Antosy led the audience on a captivating journey that traced his incredible experience, from New York to England, to the coast of France, to Belgium, to Germany, to Paris and back to Germany, where he operated just a few feet from the defendants in what has been called “the greatest trial in history.”
Antosy told the audience how his company was informed of the D-Day invasion of June 4, 1944 – code named Operation Neptune – while stationed in England. “From the moment we found out about the mission we became prisoners,” Antosy said, mentioning that he was even escorted to church by armed guards. “The information we had was so vital; it would have ruined our invasion if the Germans found out the location of the landing. Hitler expected us to attack the ports, not the beaches.”
A wave of laughter enveloped the rapt audience when he told them he couldn’t swim at the time, but was responsible for getting from shoulder-depth water to the beach while overloaded with equipment.
“There was a guy with a gun on each landing craft,” Antosy said. “He was there to make sure everyone got off.” Again, laughter, even though it dealt with a moment of such historic magnitude.
Antosy’s unit was then relocated to Belgium, where the Battle of the Bulge took American forces by surprise. In what was one of the coldest winters on record in that region, he recalled having only a single blanket to use while sleeping and how “the trucks froze to the ground.”
He talked of how German soldiers dressed as Allies gave Americans the wrong directions.
“That caused some problems,” he said, in an example of his gift of understatement.
After the war, Antosy ended up in Paris and was soon asked to return to Germany as a civilian member of the Armed Forces Radio Network to cover the Nuremberg War Trials. He told the audience that he was making an early morning radio call and mentioned he was reporting from Nuremberg.
“Someone in Hawaii radioed back and said they would pay me $1,000 each for the ropes that were used in the hangings,” he said. “I told him ‘I don’t know how to get those ropes.’” Several years later while in Japan, Antosy met a veteran who mentioned he had been in Nuremberg. The two struck up a conversation and realized they had basically been working shoulder-to-shoulder. Antosy told the man the story about the caller from Hawaii.
“He told me he could have gotten those ropes for me,” Antosy said, smiling and amused.
He received an extended standing ovation when he finished his address.
Eight young people from San Marino High School’s graduating class of 2016, who will pursue military training this fall, also spoke about their plans. Olivia Harrigian (United States Air Force Academy); Patrick Crowley, Mark Wicke and Arthur Wicke (United States Coast Guard Academy); Erin Wei (Azusa Pacific with an Air Force ROTC scholarship); Marlena Martinez (United States Navy, nuclear engineering program) Joey Elliott (American University, Army ROTC) and Jack Edwards (Furman University, Army ROTC scholarship) also paid tribute to family members who preceded them in military service.
Zoe Chang, who will attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy, was not in attendance at the ceremony.
Garret Glazier, a 2012 graduate of San Marino High School who was recently commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, mentioned United States Army Ranger Sgt. Oliver Campbell in his address, saying he was glad Campbell’s name did not appear on the memorial wall. Sgt. Campbell was injured on Jan. 17 in Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed by Taliban forces.
Dr. Hai-Sou Chen, president of the Chinese Club of San Marino, presented a floral tribute and thanked the nation’s courageous soldiers for their service. The Rev. Don Maddox and Rev. Becca Bateman of San Marino Community Church provided the opening and closing prayers, respectively; San Marino resident Bob Dini sang the National Anthem and God Bless America and San Marino Police Chief John Incontro read the names of the 54 San Marino residents who gave their lives for our country.