Military Mementos / Walls of History -- Father Inspires Collection of World War II Memorabilia

By Houk, Anita | The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Military Mementos / Walls of History -- Father Inspires Collection of World War II Memorabilia


Houk, Anita, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)


High on the west wall of Dino's Southwestern Grill hangs a panorama of photos of the 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, a gift from Crab Clayton, who got his nickname during The Big One, because he could scurry in and out of tight spots like a crab.

On the south Wall of History, restaurateur Rudy Grisanti displays World War II Pacific theater memorabilia, notably the battle flag of the submarine USS Halibut (1942-1945), plus a black-and-white photo of its captain and crew. Insignia on the flag's small white fish denote ships Halibut hit, 1942-45. The sub received seven battle stars for WWII service, having steamed out on 10 patrols over 110,000 miles, sunk 12 ships and damaged 9 others.

I was always a history buff, says Rudy, who turns 62 on July 26, but my dad, Dino, was really my inspiration for the collecting.

The long picture on this (north) wall, he says, ultimately climbing on a chair to get it in hand, was the reconnaissance and headquarters company de-embarkation picture for the 701st Tank Destroyer (TD) Division in 1942 at Fort Dix, N.J. My dad's in this picture. From there, they went to North Africa and were in the Operation Torch Allied invasion into Algiers.

When I was a kid, my grandmother kept my dad's uniform and I used to play with it, wear it. Daddy never talked much about the war.

But it has fascinated Rudy. Nearby on the north wall hang a flight bomber's silk-handkerchief escape map from the European theater; strings of 20mm and 50mm ammo rounds; enough military patches to frame the storefront at 645 N. McLean; and a snap of a teenage Tony Moskeller, then a slight Marine of just 16, toting a machine gun on the sands of Iwo Jima (1945).

Daddy was working at Firestone when he got drafted. He served 3 years in combat: the North African, Italian and European campaigns. …

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