T/5 Clifford Eugene Audinet
Hq. Battery, 532nd AAA-AWBn (1943-1945)
Hq. & Hq. Co., 2nd Battalion, 473rd Infantry Regiment (1945)
5th Army, 15th Army Group
Killed in Action 26 April, 1945, at Rapallo, Italy
-- Patrick Joseph Audinet --
Father was born on December 19, 1918 in Kelso, Washington, about 50 miles north of Portland, Oregon. He was
the youngest of 4 brothers, all born in America after their grandfather,grandmother, father, and two uncles
moved to Michigan from Chatellerault, France at the turn of the century. Clifford's father left the rest of
the family in Michigan and moved, with his wife to the state of Washington. Dad attended school in Kelso,
meeting my mother, Geraldine (She hated that name and preferred to be called Jerry) in High School. He was in
the drama club, a basketball player for Kelso High, and a poet. He and mom were skiers to a fault. Even when
pregnant with me mom would still go to the mountain (Mt. Ranier) with dad. The only photo I had for most of my
life was mom and dad sitting on Cowlitz Glacier. He married mom in August of 1940 and they started to build a
house in Kelso. Dad worked as an electrician for Reynolds Metals at a wage of $46 per week. What little information
I have indicates that life was pretty good at that time. In February of 1942 I was born and events began to move,
both for the nation and for my parents.
As I approached my first birthday mom separated from dad and took me to Portland. Except for skiing stories that
was the last I learned of my father from my mom. He reported to his draft board at the Post Office in Kelso in
January of 1943 and was in the Army. It is still unclear to me if he was drafted or enlisted. There was a prohibition
against drafting fathers still in effect but it was not always observed and the war situation was changing rapidly.
I just donāt know yet. On the 26th of March, 1943 he departed for training. He was to train at the Coastal Artillery
Training Center at Camp Callan, California (This is now Torry Pines State Park). There he was assigned to Battery "D"
of the 57th Training Battalion and started training as a "Spotter." However, his eyes, like mine were inadequate for
the job and he was shifted to radio operator training. His training lasted until August of 1943 after which he was
shipped out to Virginia to await a ship bound for Tunisia, North Africa. There, he was to join, as a replacement the
532nd Anti Aircraft Artillery-Automatic Weapons Battalion as one of their radio operators. On 11 November, 1944 the
532nd arrived at Naples and began the move north toward the "Bloody Rapido River." The 532nd provided cover for the
engineers who were trying heroically to bridge the river so that the 36th Division could cross. The carnage that
followed was witnessed by dad and his comrads and is described in a unit history of the 532nd by one of its soldiers.
No unit has paid so dearly as the 36th Division in that crossing. The 532nd survived nearly intact and eventually,
after the bombing of the 1600 year old Abbey at Montecassino, moved across the Liri Valley and on to liberated Rome.
When the 532nd reached Montecatini, west of Florence, in January of 1945 the unit was disolved along with the 434th AAA,
435th AAA, and the 900th AAA. The soldiers, my dad included, were formed into the new 473rd Infantry Regiment and dad
was assigned, as before to Hq. & Hg. Co.. In March of 1945 dad contracted malaria and was sent back to the 5th Army
Hospital. He returned shortly only to have a relapse and return to the medical facility. He was back to his unit in
April as they advanced up the Ligurian coast toward the liberation of Genova. The day before the triumphant entry of
the 473rd Infantry Regiment, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the 365th Infantry Regiment into Genova my father
was killed. He had volunteered to be the radioman on the lead tank of a patrol which was driving a retreating
German-Italian anti-tank gun through Santa Marguerita and Rapallo. The gun stopped long enough to discharge a round
at the lead tank. Dad was on the tank and was killed but it is still unknown if the two tankers got out. The end of
the Italian Campaign was declared the next day.
I have talked to those who fought with dad and, to a man they say he was an honest man, quiet, very intelligent, and
confident that when the war ended he could patch up the relationship with mom. He was older than most (27) and was the
teacher of younger radiomen and had the respect of the men who worked around him. The more I learn, the more I miss him.
I have worked through the pain (well, some of it!) and the bitterness to a place of profound love and respect for my
father and all the brave, frightened, and selfless soldiers who fought with him around the world.