Special Ops Caesar Civitella, Rest in Peace

Major Civitella met with MOAA officers last year and told us many interesting stories about his time in Special Ops and the CIA.

"At 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 29, 1944, Mr. Civitella and the rest of Team Lafayette started their first mission by jumping out of a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber and parachuting behind enemy lines in southern France.

The 14-man OSS operational group was taking part in Operation Dragoon, the allied invasion of southern France. Working with the French Maquis resistance group, Mr. Civitella's team captured nearly 3,800 enemy soldiers and 30 Nazi officers, according to his official government biography.

Nine months later, after serving on aerial resupply missions that earned him an Air Medal, Mr. Civitella and another team dropped behind enemy lines, this time in northern Italy.

They worked with Italian resistance forces to prevent the Nazis and fascists from destroying infrastructure as they retreated — and to capture Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Like the previous airdrop, it was a perilous mission.

Once on the ground, Mr. Civitella and his team traveled by horse and sled through the mountains, according to U.S. Special Operations Command's Tip of the Spear magazine. They were carrying gold to pay the people who held Mussolini.

By the time they arrived behind enemy lines, however, Italian partisans had already captured and killed Mussolini. Still, Mr. Civitella and his team remained in the field for another month until the Germans surrendered. He earned a Bronze Star."