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American Soldiers Take a 13-Year-Old Girl's Cake, 'Return' It When She Turns 90

Lois Oladejo
May 14, 2022
10:00 A.M.

Some resourceful soldiers broke a 13-year-old girl's heart when they sighted her birthday cake cooling off by the window after they successfully drove German invaders away from the city of Vincenza. This is a story about how she got it back decades later.

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In times of war and conflict, almost anything goes, and sometimes soldiers take advantage of the chaos to wrought some mischief.

That's precisely what happened when American soldiers of the 88th infantry Division fought off German forces near Meri Mion's home in Vincenza, Italy, back in 1945.

It was a day Meri Mion would never forget, not just because she lost her cake, but because of the gunshots she heard as the German soldiers beat a hasty retreat as the U.S. army fought bravely.

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But, of course, it did not also help matters that nature had chosen to add the dramatic effects of a rainstorm complete with lightning and thunder on a spring morning.

It was a tough fight, and at least 19 U.S. soldiers met their ends while others were wounded in the battle against the German defenders, but the U.S. soldiers ultimately won.

Other Americans from the 91st Infantry Division moved in from the north and later paraded through Corso Palladio, where Italians grateful for their help offered them bread and wine.

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When the Americans came to her village, San Pietro in Gu, Mion had been 12. Like many others in the area at the time of the battle, she spent the night before hiding with her mother in the attic of their farmhouse, which was located along the town's main road.

The following morning, which was April 29, 1945, Americans were already around, and all was well again.

They had all survived the night, and that day was also her birthday. So, her mom baked a cake for the occasion, and after taking it out of the oven, she set it on their window sill to cool off before feasting on it.

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Imagine their shock when they went to retrieve the cake only to find that it was gone — taken by the American soldiers who had decided to reward themselves for a job well done. It was a big disappointment, but at least she was alive to witness it.

RIGHTING THE WRONG

If someone had told Mion that she would eventually get that cake back, she would have called it nonsense, but that's precisely what happened.

More than seven decades later, when Col. Matthew Gomlak, Commander of U.S. Army Garrison Italy, and Vicenza Mayor Francesco Rucco came together to remember the day Americans entered the city of Vincenza during the second World War.

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It was held on April 28, 2022, and soldiers from the U.S. Army returned a birthday cake to Mion, who was invited as a guest of honor at the mid-day event held at Giardini Salvi, not far from where the 88th Infantry fought their way into the city back in 1945.

Vicenza officials, Italian soldiers, carabinieri, and many civilians were present at the event, and they all watched Sgt. Peter Wallis of Seabeck, Washington, and Col. Matthew Gomlak, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Italy, present the cake to Mion. In a statement made by Wallis, he said:

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"It was a little awkward, but it makes me feel great to give her the cake."

The garrison shared a video of the joyful occasion, which was titled "One Community: Remembering April 28, 1945," via YouTube, and it captured those present singing the Italian and English rendition of Happy Birthday to Mion, who was swamped with emotions.

Her birthday cake was made with decorative candy pieces, fresh fruit, white frosting, chocolate icing, and a written message that read "Happy 90th Birthday" in Italian.

Mion told the army garrison that had gone so far to right their little mischief that she would share the cake with her family on her birthday, which was the following day, and that she would never forget the moment.

The second World War ended on September 2, 1945, just four months and five days after Mion clocked 13.

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