Honoring Erwin S. Casper
Honoring Erwin S. Casper
Erwin Casper tried to join the Army early in WWII but was turned down because of poor vision in his right eye. He tried a year later, and was accepted for limited, stateside duty supervising Prisoners of War in the United States. As times became more desperate, the Army sent him to North Africa in June 1943 for two weeks to pick up prisoners. During his second trip to North Africa for prisoners, he ended up in Salerno Italy, where 80,000 U.S. soldiers had just failed in the initial attempt to invade Italy. Possibly because of the high number of casualties, PFC Casper was "acquired" by the local Army Group (General Patton was a division commander in this Army Group).
PFC Casper and another soldier collected as many as 100 prisoners at a time from the front lines and marched them to camps at the port. Casper's job, besides keeping track of his prisoners, was to identify and separate the true Nazi's from common soldiers. Casper was injured on one of those trips and sent to an Army hospital in Casablanca (North Africa). Army doctors decided that his right eye vision was gone and ordered his medical discharge. Since he was not legally assigned to a North African Army unit, they could not discharge him, and sent him back to Italy. His September 1943 two week trip to Europe finally ended when he left Italy on May 30, 1944 with a ship full of prisoners.
He was legally blind in his right eye, and underwent unsuccessful surgery in a San Antonia Army Hospital in the summer of 1944. Unfortunately, by the summer of 1944, the United States had run out of draftees and medical requirements for volunteers were not very strict. PFC Casper's next official military record shows that his weapons qualifications card was updated showing qualification with the Thompson submachine gun, six round revolver and shotgun and was approved for limited stateside duty.
But, the Army sent him back to Italy to pick up prisoners. That trip lasted at least six weeks and Tech Sergeant Casper's discharge papers note that he participated in the Po Valley Campaign (with battle star). The Po Valley Campaign ended with Patton's capture of Rome. Tech Sergeant Casper was finally discharged from the Army in January 1946.
Tech Sergeant Ervin Casper was laid to rest with full military honors at the State Veterans Cemetery in Knoxville on May 11, 2018. We love, miss and honor our father.
- The Ervin S. Casper Family