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American Legion Post 778 will celebrate 100th birthday of WWII medic

Arc Carosi, 100, of Butler Township, holds his picture from his 1943 graduation from Ellwood City High School. A few months later, he deployed to India during World War II. Submitted Photo

BUTLER TWP — Arcangelo “Arc” Carosi, who turned 100 earlier this month, easily recalls his experiences during World War II, when he was drafted by the Army at age 19 in 1943 and sent to basic training at Fort Meade, Md.

His wartime accomplishments, and all of Carosi’s long life, will be celebrated June 1 at a 100th birthday party at American Legion Post 778 in Lyndora. He turned 100 on May 14.

After basic training, Carosi received medical quartermaster training at Camp Pickett in Blackstone, Va., including battlefield triage training.

Carosi, whose three brothers also served during wartime, shipped out in October 1943. His troopship landed in Algiers on Nov. 3, 1943.

Carosi speculated that he would sent to join the Italian campaign.

Instead, he embarked on a 5,300-mile journey to Bombay, where he arrived in December.

Carosi then boarded a train that traveled 1,300 miles east to Calcutta, where he climbed aboard a boat for a cruise of more than 1,000 miles up the Brahmaputra River to the India/Burma border.

A truck then hauled him the 65 miles to Ledo, where he became curious about receiving a carbine rifle and ammunition.

“They never told us about why we were issued a rifle,” Carosi said. “I was never trained to shoot the gun.”

He then was trucked to his final destination, the 59th Medical Supply Depot at Chabua, India.

The Chabua Air Station was the main supply hub for distribution of military supplies to China and to the 17,000 U.S. troops in Burma who were building the Ledo Road over the Himalayan Mountains.

Carosi was put in charge of a local crew of Indian workers in a medical supply facility, where the men packed up and loaded onto transport trucks and pack mules medical supplies for field hospitals treating U.S. and Allied troops.

His medical depot distributed beds, autoclaves (to sterilize medical devices), surgical equipment, portable X-ray machines and other medical supplies.

“The Japanese would have loved to have those medical supplies,” Carosi said of being issued the carbine.

In March 1944, a force of 84,000 Japanese troops attacked an area 224 miles to the south of Chabua. The Axis plan was to capture Chabua and cut off the supply route to China.

Carosi said British and Indian troops inflicted 60,000 casualties on Japanese forces, which marked the largest land defeat in Japanese military history.

Among those supplied by Carosi’s base was the famed “Merrill’s Marauders,” a fighting force named for Maj. Gen. Frank D. Merrill comprised of almost 3,000 men whose mission was to clear the way for the construction of the Ledo Road.

Carosi and his unit stood in awe of Merrill’s Marauders, who fought five major and 30 minor engagements through jungles and over mountains in India.

“They were the best,” Carosi recalled.

Conditions in Chabua were difficult, as recorded by war correspondent Eric Sevareid.

“I saw the American establishment at Chabua, where hundreds of Americans and thousands of natives slaved in scorching sun or dismal rain to get supplies in to China,” Sevareid said. “There were at this time absolutely no amenities of life, no lounging places, no Red Cross girls, nothing cool and refreshing to eat and drink, no nearby rest resort to visit on leave. It was a dread and dismal place.”

Carosi said he lived for two years in a “basha,” or hut with bamboo walls, thatched roof and dirt floor.

The temperature reached 120 degrees in the summer and monsoon rains plagued the base 60% of the time.

The skin of the American soldiers turn yellow from taking atabrine to prevent malaria, and Carosi contracted dengue fever from a mosquito bite while in Chabua.

Carosi, the son of Italian immigrants and an Ellwood City native, recalled being shocked to meet a fellow Ellwood City resident during his travels in Asia.

“He gave me a can of lunch meat,” he said.

After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the Chabua medical depot closed, and Carosi got to ride over the Ledo Road that was under construction during his time stationed at Chabua.

“In 1945, they finished the road,” Carosi said. “They started it in 1942.”

When his transport truck out of Chabua bogged down in deep mud and lost a rear axle, Carosi hopped on a passing Jeep for the remainder of his trip to Kunming, China.

After a few days, he boarded a C-46 for a frigid, 18,000-foot-high flight to Calcutta. There, he boarded a troopship for the monthlong voyage home.

Carosi continued his occupation in the medical field, working as an X-ray technician at a handful of regional Veterans Affairs hospitals before landing at the Butler V.A. in 1960.

He was promoted to chief X-ray technician in 1962 and retired from that position in 1983. Carosi said he got into discussions with hundreds of fellow World War II veterans during his time working at the Butler V.A.

“There were lots of them over there,” he said.

Carosi still lives at the house he built in the mid-1980s and drives to complete errands or visit American Legion Post 778 in Lyndora, where he is sergeant-at-arms and which he helped build.

His wife, Ledia, who he married in 1951, died in 2018.

“My wife was No. 1,” Carosi said.

The couple had three sons, Paul, John and James.

Carosi’s hobbies over the years have been carpentry, cabinetmaking, bowling, camping, stamp collecting and gardening.

Asked how he feels about turning 100, he said that while he didn’t expect it, he doesn’t think too much about it.

“My aunt lived to 101 and my dad was 99,” Carosi said.

His grandson, Bryan Carosi, now lives with his grandfather as he sorts out a few age-related health issues.

Bryan knows about as much about his grandfather’s military service as Arc, and marvels over the conditions, travel, illnesses and potential attack he endured in the 1940s.

“I still can’t believe he did it,” Bryan said.

World War II veteran Arcangelo “Arc” Carosi, of Butler Township, will be celebrated at a birthday party June 1 at American Legion Post 778 in Lyndora. Submitted Photo
Arc Carosi was a young Army medic during World War II. The photo was taken in Calcutta, India. Submitted Photo
Arc Carosi, 100, saved many pictures and relics from his experiences in the Army during World War II. His certificate of embarkation for the monthlong trip home is among them. Submitted Photo
Arc Carosi, 100, said he was issued a carbine rifle during World War II when he was deployed to India. Submitted Photo

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