George Ciampa is a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and served in the D-Day invasion of France and the Battle of the Bulge which ended the war in Europe in 1945. George later became a prolific producer of documentaries which focused on the western front in Europe, and the many fallen heroes from that war.
As an eighteen year old skinny, 112 pound kid, George Ciampa was drafted into the U.S. Army in Nov. 1943, after failing the eye requirements for Air Cadet training. He wanted to be a fighter pilot.
Instead he was drafted and assigned to the 607th Graves Registration Company. Graves Registration is a euphemism for gathering the dead, this time on the battlefields of France, Belgium and Germany. His company of 124 enlisted men and officers had this duty for eleven consecutive months from the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France, the Battle of the Bulge and through Germany arriving 100 miles from Berlin, Germany. His company initiated their last of seventeen temporary cemeteries there gathering and burying approximately 75,000 American and German soldiers in total. This was a “grave” burden for him, especially, because as a five year old child in Boston, he attended the very emotional burial of an eight year old cousin and developed a great fear of death—the fear of dying himself. Ironically the Army chose him to see death every day during his stay in the war in Europe.
Awards received in the Service were the French Croix de Guerre for “unusual duty” in Normandy for him and his platoon members upon landing on D-Day in Normandy, France, the U.S. Army’s Meritorious Service Award for remaining in the Battle of the Bulge to bury those left behind when most other units withdrew. The 607th remained with Combat Medics. Also he received the prestigious French Legion of Honor.
After the war ended in Europe on May 8th 1945, Mr Ciampa was assigned to the Army of Occupation in Mannheim, Germany, where he remained for seven months while the war raged on in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. His duty there was to manage a Salvage Collection Company as units going home turned in their gear at the warehouse he managed. He left Germany on December 19, 1945 to return to the U.S. and was honorably discharged from the Army on January 19th, 1946.
While in the Army of Occupation, Ciampa realized that the German children needed food, love and attention and of course were not responsible for the Nazi tactics. He and others recognized that need and they became what he refers to, now, as American “soldier ambassadors”
In 2016, he decided to do a documentary about that duty, his fifth film since 2006. This one is entitled, “America’s Finest Ambassadors–Our Armed Forces.” To do this, he went back to Germany to interview 16 adults aged 76 to 86, who were children during the war, to talk about their relationship with the American soldier.
He now is planning his sixth documentary. This one will be in conjunction with the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of France where he landed on D-Day. He will take seven D-Day veterans with him to be interviewed there. French citizens who witnessed the Invasion will also be interviewed. This will be a historical, educational film that will recognize the many who have given their lives there, soldiers and civilians, and show respect for the citizens of Normandy— those living and dead. It will be called, “The 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing in Normandy, France.”