Italian Campaign a bond for soldiers in Kuwait

Sergeant Harrison Meyer from C Company (Medevac) 1-108th Assault Helicopter Battalion United States Army, explains how to load and unload a Blackhawk helicopter with Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel during Operation IMPACT in Kuwait on February 16, 2019. Photo: Master Corporal Bryan Carter, OP IMPACT JTF-I. ©2019 DND/MDN Canada.   *** Le sergent Harrison Meyer de la C Company (Medevac), 1-108th Assault Helicopter Battalion de l’armée américaine, explique comment charger et décharger un hélicoptère Blackhawk avec du personnel médical des Forces armées canadiennes dans le cadre de l’opération IMPACT au Koweït le 6 février 2019. Photo : Caporal-chef Bryan Carter, FOI-I de l’OP IMPACT. ©2019 DND/MDN Canada.

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait — Italian and Canadian soldiers working side by side in Kuwait have formed a lasting friendship thanks in part to a little-known piece of Second World War history.

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Nonato is Commanding Officer of the Royal Regiment of Canada, a Toronto-based Army Reserve unit, currently serving in Kuwait as part of Operation IMPACT, Canada’s training mission in the Middle East.

Master Sergeant Salvatore Corvo is an Italian Army telecommunications technician who was, until recently, on his first deployment in Kuwait. His hometown is Ispica, a community of about 15,000 on Sicily’s Mediterranean coast.

Ispica is notable in military history for being the first town Canadian troops entered during Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily in the summer of 1943. It was just the start of the Italian Campaign, Canada’s longest of the Second World War.

Another notable part of the story is that a Canadian officer, Lieutenant Sydney Frost of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was appointed interim mayor of Ispica, which was heavily damaged by the shelling and bombing that preceded the invasion.

Lt Frost would return to Ispica decades later and assist the townspeople in establishing a monument that still sits in the town centre. It was completed in 1991 and new additions were added in 2000.

MSgt Corvo, speaking through a translator, said he first learned of the town’s history from his mother, who experienced the events first hand at age 12. Ispica residents, he added, gathered at the site to mark the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the invasion. Another commemorative event, attended by Lt Frost, was held there in 2013.

“When I heard about working with Canadians I was really excited,” said MSgt Corvo. “The Canadians helped us and I’ll never forget.”

LCol Nonato said that connection has resulted in a friendship both men say will continue beyond their time together in Kuwait.

That first contact came after an American padre tasked with leading English-language Catholic Masses was suddenly unavailable, LCol Nonato explained.

“I asked, ‘Can I come to your camp?’ And they said, ‘Yeah for sure,’ and all of a sudden the smiles broke out and then we ended up starting a friendship. They took the time to translate the entire Mass for me into English from Italian. So I felt very welcome.”

The relationship went many steps further when the pair decided to take part in a “shadow” Canada Army Run event – one of many organized by Canadians on foreign deployments in conjunction with the main Army Run held each year in Ottawa.

“We had people from all across the coalition running in something that was distinctly Canadian,” said LCol Nonato. “You hear about the Army run happening in Ottawa all the time but the shadow run happening over here also created unity. And then seeing that members of the coalition wanted to do it as well was especially touching.”

MSgt Corvo said his participation was a matter of being “thankful for what the Canadian Army did for Italy and Ispica.”

LCol Nonato said the friendship has had wider, positive implications for the multinational force in Kuwait.

“I think that after I started having this friendship with Salvatore, the other guys working with me felt a little more comfortable about approaching other coalition members and I hope that it keeps on going.”

MSgt Corvo, who will be back in Italy by the time of publication, said he has appreciated all facets of his time in Kuwait.

“This has been a professional experience and also a human experience,” he said. “I want to continue the friendship with the LCol. He is welcome, to visit me in Ispica any time.”

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Image gallery


  • Members of Operation IMPACT salute Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance during his official visit to Operation IMPACT on April 26, 2016 in Kuwait. Photo: Op Impact, DND. ©2019 DND/MDN Canada.   *** Les membres de l’opération IMPACT saluent le chef d'état-major de la Défense, le général Jonathan Vance, pendant sa visite officielle de l’opération IMPACT, le 26 avril 2016, au Koweït. Photo : Op Impact, DND. ©2019 DND/MDN Canada.
    Members of Operation IMPACT salute Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance during his official visit to Operation IMPACT on April 26, 2016 in Kuwait. Photo: Op Impact, DND. ©2019 DND/MDN Canada. *** Les membres de l’opération IMPACT saluent le chef d'état-major de la Défense, le général Jonathan Vance, pendant sa visite officielle de l’opération IMPACT, le 26 avril 2016, au Koweït. Photo : Op Impact, DND. ©2019 DND/MDN Canada.

  • Canadian Army Reservist Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Nonato has a new friend in Italian Army telecommunications tech Master Sergeant Salvatore Corvo. MSgt Corvo’s hometown was the first stop for Canadian troops fighting the Italian Campaign of the Second World War and even had an interim mayor who was a Canadian military officer. Photo: Sergeant Carl Pepin.   *** Le lieutenant-colonel Joseph Nonato, réserviste de l’Armée canadienne, s’est fait un nouvel ami, le sergent-maître Salvatore Corvo, technicien des télécommunications de l’armée italienne. La ville natale du Sgtm Corvo a été le premier arrêt des troupes canadiennes participant à la campagne d’Italie pendant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale et il y a même eu un maire par intérim qui était un officier militaire canadien. Photo : Sergent Carl Pepin
    Canadian Army Reservist Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Nonato has a new friend in Italian Army telecommunications tech Master Sergeant Salvatore Corvo. MSgt Corvo’s hometown was the first stop for Canadian troops fighting the Italian Campaign of the Second World War and even had an interim mayor who was a Canadian military officer. Photo: Sergeant Carl Pepin. *** Le lieutenant-colonel Joseph Nonato, réserviste de l’Armée canadienne, s’est fait un nouvel ami, le sergent-maître Salvatore Corvo, technicien des télécommunications de l’armée italienne. La ville natale du Sgtm Corvo a été le premier arrêt des troupes canadiennes participant à la campagne d’Italie pendant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale et il y a même eu un maire par intérim qui était un officier militaire canadien. Photo : Sergent Carl Pepin

  • Canadian Army Reservist Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Nonato and Italian Army telecommunications tech Master Sergeant Salvatore Corvo (centre) became close friends while serving together in Kuwait. MSgt Corvo’s hometown of Ispica was liberated by Canadians at the start of the Second World War Italian Campaign, and he said the bond formed in part because of that history. Photo: Sergeant Carl Pepin.   *** Le lieutenant-colonel Joseph Nonato, réserviste de l’Armée canadienne, et le sergent-maître Salvatore Corvo (au centre), technicien des télécommunications de l’armée italienne, sont devenus des amis proches alors qu’ils se trouvaient les deux en déploiement au Koweït. La ville natale du Sgtm Corvo, Ispica, a été libérée par les Canadiens au début de la campagne d’Italie de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, et il dit que les liens se sont formés en partie en raison de cette histoire. Photo : Sergent Carl Pepin.
    Canadian Army Reservist Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Nonato and Italian Army telecommunications tech Master Sergeant Salvatore Corvo (centre) became close friends while serving together in Kuwait. MSgt Corvo’s hometown of Ispica was liberated by Canadians at the start of the Second World War Italian Campaign, and he said the bond formed in part because of that history. Photo: Sergeant Carl Pepin. *** Le lieutenant-colonel Joseph Nonato, réserviste de l’Armée canadienne, et le sergent-maître Salvatore Corvo (au centre), technicien des télécommunications de l’armée italienne, sont devenus des amis proches alors qu’ils se trouvaient les deux en déploiement au Koweït. La ville natale du Sgtm Corvo, Ispica, a été libérée par les Canadiens au début de la campagne d’Italie de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, et il dit que les liens se sont formés en partie en raison de cette histoire. Photo : Sergent Carl Pepin.
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