Category Archives: Manuel Serrano

Memories of Manuel Serrano

Manuel Serrano in an undated photo. Courtesy of Marie Galarza-Ruiz.

Manuel and friends. Courtesy of Marie Galarza-Ruiz.

One of the most interesting Camp 59 POWs by far is Manuel Serrano—a young paratrooper of Puerto Rican descent from New York City’s Brooklyn borough.

Even during the war, Manuel gained recognition as a tough, colorful character when his exploits behind enemy lines in Italy were profiled in Yank magazine. See “The Partisan from Brooklyn.”

I was so pleased to hear recently from Marie Galarza-Ruiz, who shed further light on, and a glimpse into a tender side of, this enigmatic character.

Marie wrote, “Manuel Serrano was a very close friend of my parents, Ignacio and Maria Galarza, and our family.

“I can’t tell you how surprised I was to find the clipping of him on your site. I have the same clipping in a scrapbook I keep of him to this day. He was such a special man and I absolutely adored him. His military service record is incredible and a testament to his strength and courage.

“He also led a very interesting life after leaving the military. He had small parts in a few Hollywood movies and lived most of his life in Europe, where he married his wife Adrienne in France.”

“He had a small part in the Valachi Papers and a larger role in Land of the Pharaohs, starring Joan Collins. He played her personal guard. He looked terrific in an Egyptian costume.

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Manuel Serrano—The Partisan from Brooklyn

In 1999–2001, Italian historian Filippo Ieranò conducted a number of interviews with Italians of the Marche.

The collection was published as Antigone nella Valle del Tenna, or “Antigone in the Tenna Valley” in 2002 by Consiglio Regionale delle Marche. The stories highlight the reception of fleeing Allied POWs and Jews after 8th September 1943 in the Tenna Valley—examples of nonviolent resistance against Nazi-Fascists.”

Filippo included a memoir by Manuel Serrano in this volume:

Il partigiano di Brooklin
The Partisan from Brooklyn

[…] Erano passati due mesi dalla tragedia di Pearl Harbor, quando mi arruolai volontario nel corpo dei paracadutisti e fui mandato al corso di addestramento di Fort Benning, nello Stato della Giorgia. Dopo qualche mese fummo inviati in Inghilterra per un po’ di tempo e poi partecipammo all’invasione del Nord Africa.

[…] Two months had passed since the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, when I volunteered for the paratroopers and was sent to the training course at Fort Benning, Georgia. After a few months, we were sent to England for a while and then we participated in the invasion of North Africa.

La nostra prima missione era di far saltare un ponte, ma il 27 dicembre 1942 fummo catturati e condotti a Tunisi, dove ci caricarono su una nave italiana di nome ‘Zeno,’ destinazione Palermo.

Our first mission was to blow up a bridge, but on December 27, 1942, we were captured and taken to Tunis, where they took us on an Italian ship called the Zeno, destined for Palermo.

[…] Dopo due ore, arrivammo col treno a Servigliano provenienti da Porto S. Giorgio. La gente sembrava più cordiale, ci offriva anche del pane, nonostante la contrarietà dei carabinieri presenti.

[…] After two hours, we arrived by train in Servigliano. Coming from Porto S. Giorgio, people seemed more cordial there—they even offered us bread, despite the opposition of the carabinieri present.

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