The Shirt Off his Back

No one would argue that supply sergeants are the most generous guys in the world. In garrison, would-be requisitioners have to be prepared to coax, cajole, intimidate, and even beg to get some items passed over the counter in the supply room. Like so much other "chicken," that stuff has a way of changing in combat, but few of even the most dedicated supply sergeants ever went to the lengths that Staff Sergeant Frank Costarella (A/397th) did to take care of his men.

During a brief break in the action in the High Vosges, Costarella, a native of Elmont, New York, brought a truck and trailer load of supplies up to the company assembly area. Very quickly, he realized that he had distributed everything he had brought, and still had not replaced all that his exhausted infantrymen needed.

"What do you need?" Costarella asked a forlorn rifleman who clearly did not expect to get what he required. "Helmet," came the reply.

Costarella tossed him his steel pot.

"How 'bout you?" the supply sergeant asked the next man. "Field jacket" was the response.

Off came the supply sergeant's Model 1943 field jacket.

Querying continued down the line until every man had what he needed . . . and the supply sergeant returned to his depleted trove wearing his OD undershirt, OD wool trousers, and shoe packs.

-- From the Century Sentinel, 2 December 1944