Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas


1924 - 1999

517th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Distinctive Unit Insignia


Patriot, Chapter 1919

 (ARMY, WWII, Europe)  Article October 1998

Carl E. Votti was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1924. After graduation from High School, Carl enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he had a scholarship to play on the football team. While downtown one day with a friend, Carl saw a paratrooper and said he could not believe that any branch of the U.S. military could or would dress a soldier in such a stunning uniform, especially, the glistening paratrooper boots.  They both decided  to choose the parachute branch of service.

Carl entered active duty on March 16, 1943 and after basic training was soon going through “jump school” at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was assigned as a machine gunner in Company B, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division. Upon completion of unit training, the 517th P.I.R. was moved to Port of Embarkation at Camp Shanks, New York.  In early May 1944 they sailed for Europe on the troop ship SANTA ROSA.  On the trip over, Carl won more than $1,000 in shipboard crap games before docking in Naples, Italy on May 31, 1944. He immediately sent the money home to his mother. Unfortunately, she immediately became distraught because she thought that it must be the payout for his G.I. life insurance. 

Detached from the 17th Airborne Division and reorganized as a Regimental Combat Team; the 517th P.I.R.C.T. arrived in Italy just in time for the Rome-Arno Campaign. Following that, they made the combat parachute jump that spearheaded the invasion of Southern France.  From there they continued combat operations on through the Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe Campaigns.  By war's end the 517th Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team had sustained 75% casualties. Pfc Carl Votti was one of only seven troopers remaining present for duty from among Company B's original 120 men.

On the edge of the little town of St Jacques on the L'Ambieve River, Carl had a sudden nighttime encounter with a German SS Sergeant. The two locked in hand-to-hand combat and struggled in the darkness, rolling around in the snow until the very angry German was subdued. Carl said, “And later he really got mad when I relieved him of his Iron Cross Medal. I still have it.”  During the interrogation, the captured Sergeant revealed information that was of great tactical intelligence value and as a result, Carl was awarded the Silver Star for his “scared-to-death heroism”.  When the war ended, the veteran paratrooper Carl Votti had also been decorated with the Bronze Star Medal and two awards of the Purple Heart along with numerous Campaign and Service Medals.  He returned to the United States in August 1945, was soon discharged at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and arrived back home in Philadelphia in October 1945.                                                              

Carl Votti resumed his war-interrupted College career, and using the G.I. Bill, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Industrial Engineering. He worked for Dupont for 33 years and retired in 1982 in Victoria, Texas. He married Ora (Wood) and they raised five children.  They moved in retirement to Austin in 1992 because three of their children lived in the city.

Carl Votti provided this Purple Heart story for publication in the October 1998 issue of PATRIOT BULLETIN.  Carl passed away in August 1999.



The RETREADS Barbershop Quartet of Austin Texas

The Retreads is a registered seniors quartet with the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (SPEBSQSA). The quartet formed in 1997, and ever since it has been delighting audiences with its humor and singing at parties and social events in and around Austin Texas. The Retreads members also sing with the Austin Chord Rangers chorus. They are the Austin Chapter of SPEBSQSA, Inc.

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