Episode 309 Andy Biggio The Rifle: Uniting Voices of Service and Sacrifice Transcript

This transcript is from episode 309 with guest Andy Biggio.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning into the drive on podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you’re a veteran, active duty guard reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio.

And now let’s get on with the show. Hey everybody. Welcome back to drive on. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Andy Biggio. Andy is a Marine Corps veteran, a police officer and author of the rifle. And we’re going to discuss his book and the efforts that he’s been going through to bring world war two veterans back to Europe, where they fought decades earlier.

But first, uh, welcome to the show, Andy. Glad to have you here.


Andy Biggio: you very much for having me. And, uh, It’s always a good day when you get to start off talking about World War Two and everything

Scott DeLuzio: else. So it is a good day, right? And, um, you know, it’s a lot of, uh, a lot of history there and a lot of, uh, information from some of these guys that you’ve been talking to.[00:01:00]

Um, but before we get into all that. Uh, for the listeners who maybe aren’t familiar with you and your background, um, there may be some listeners out there who have heard of you. Maybe the name sounds familiar, um, either through your book or other interviews that you’ve done. I know I’ve, I found out about you through some other interviews that you had done, uh, myself, but, um, can you tell the listeners who maybe aren’t familiar with you a little bit about yourself and your background?

Andy Biggio: Sure, I, um, I grew up as a very patriotic kid like many kids in the 80s and 90s in America and, um, um, you know, both of my grandfather’s brothers were killed in World War II, so, um, I grew up kind of learning about that sacrifice very young at a young age and, um, grew up in a post 9 11 world where everything was, you know, using dicks and twigs as guns and hiding go seek and playing war games and, you know, Then when 9 11 happened, I joined the Marine Corps, um, about four years after, cause I was still in, you know, school.

So, um, I deployed to Iraq and [00:02:00] Afghanistan. I always wanted to serve my country, uh, regardless of like what the mission was. I just wanted to be the same person. My, my grandfather was in World War II. And I just, I guess I didn’t realize how much that was going to shape my life afterwards. Um, I ended up starting my own nonprofit to help wounded veterans, uh, coming home.

Um, things that the VA couldn’t pay, you know, pay for like brand new cars and housing modifications. And then when I realized that we were losing 900 World War II veterans a day, I started searching and finding World War II veterans. And the way I did it, um, was very unique and different. Um, and you know, obviously we’ll get into that, but, um, I wanted to say goodbye to America’s last World War II veterans before it was too late.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I think that’s an important mission too, because we’ve talked on this show before about, um, the importance and the power of sharing your stories. And, um, you know, once when some of these veterans from, from back [00:03:00] in World War II area or era, and, uh, even some of the, the more recent ones, Korea, Vietnam, um, you know, once when we lose those people, a lot of times their stories go along with them.

Um, You know, there’s, there wasn’t the self publishing the way we have self publishing these days where anyone can write a book and publish it on Amazon. Uh, you know, they didn’t have those options back then for their stories to kind of live, outlive them. Um, and so they kind of lived in their minds and in the minds of whoever they told those stories to, but once those people are gone, um, you know, they.

They’re gone, right? And so, uh, you know, the work that you’re doing, uh, and, and yes, we’ll get into that in a little bit, uh, but the work you’re doing is, I think it’s super important to preserve some of those stories from the, the average Joe, who’s on the front lines. Um, not, not the generals and the people like that, right?

It’s, it’s the average guy who was out there fighting for his country.

Andy Biggio: Absolutely. And I think you’ve, we’ve seen that more than ever now with the whole fall of Afghanistan is, um, You know, that the [00:04:00] average Joe was winning the war and then the generals and politicians lose the war. So it’s, it’s, I think we know who the real responsible guys are.

You know, I think it’s been made clear more than ever. And to me, the most therapeutic thing I’ve ever done, not alcohol, not drugs, not, um, therapy sessions, not, you know, any type of prescription. But when I paired a Iraq and Afghan veteran with a World War II veteran. It has been the most therapeutic thing ever.

Like the, the younger generations of veterans are just captivated by these old men and what they went through and how they were able to live successful lives after combat, you know, and live up to age a hundred and the greatest generation, and that has been so inspirational for our younger veterans.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, I want to get more into that in a little bit. Um, but we’re first, we’re going to take a quick commercial break. And when we get back to that, uh, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll get into that. Um, that aspect of pairing [00:05:00] those veterans up together. So stay tuned. So Andy, um, we were talking a little bit before the break about the benefits of pairing those veterans together, um, to see the Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and the world war two veterans coming together.

Um, and. I want to get a little bit more into that. But first I want to kind of just take a quick step back because you talked a little bit about the nonprofit work and kind of how you got into doing what you’re doing now, um, and you’re the founder of Boston’s, uh, wounded vet run. And through that nonprofit, you, you helped raise a ton of money for wounded veterans.

Um, can you tell us about that organization, how that came to be? Yeah. Um,

Andy Biggio: I, in 2008, I think, or seven, I was invited to a Red Sox game. And, um, it was like tickets for veterans. And I met a young, uh, veteran from the 82nd Airborne. His name was Vincent Mannion and he had his whole skull replaced with plastic.

[00:06:00] Uh, he was struck by an IED and he had what was called a bicranial replacement surgery. And, um. I was just devastated and had never seen an injury like that on a young soldier, you know, um, his brain injury was so bad that he was now, uh, basically a, uh, 8 year old in a 30 year old’s body. And I asked the family whatever I could do for them, and they were telling me how the VA at the time wouldn’t pay for a new roof of their house.

So I said, oh, hell no. I went out and I got a bunch of my friends that rode motorcycles and we did a motorcycle charity run. For him, we raised like 30 grand. And then from there, it just went on every year for 13 years. We picked different veterans to do that motorcycle charity run for him. It became a federally chartered nonprofit.

And I’ve raised over a couple million dollars now for like maybe 60 wounded veterans over the last 13 years, given them every cent. I don’t take a salary, none of that. Um, and they’ve used the money for brand new cars, housing modifications, transportation needs. Down payments on [00:07:00] houses and

Scott DeLuzio: yeah, that’s incredible.

But at some point along the line, you realize that this population that you were talking about earlier of the world war two veterans, uh, that, that whole generation was dwindling at a pretty rapid rate. Um, and you wanted to find a way to tell those stories of the veterans before it was too late, right before they’re lost for good.

Um, so tell us how you came about. Yeah. Yeah.

Andy Biggio: So, well, at this motorcycle charity run, every now and then I would see a World War II veteran show up. They didn’t have a motorcycle or anything, but they just want to come and hand me a check for the, the wounded soldier or the wounded Marine. And I was just like, wow, here’s this guy who was 90 making his way through crowds of motorcycles and people just to hand me a little paper check.

And I said, pretty soon there’s going to be a day where we don’t see that, you know, where I don’t see that, so, um, I decided to reflect on myself because I’m named after one of my grandfather’s brothers who was killed in World War II, Andrew Biggio. Andrew was killed in [00:08:00] Italy with the 34th Division. I started reading his letters that he wrote home before he was killed and…

How much he enjoyed the m1 rifle the m1 grand so I was like I need to go out and buy one and feel what he felt and hold what he held And this is so crazy that this young 19 year old kid’s talking about this rifle So I went and bought an m1 grand and that was the way that I would connect with world war ii veterans by taking that M1 grand to their house putting it in their hands and watching their reaction.

Them holding that instrument of warfare again after 75 years, just brought back so many memories and we bonded from veteran to veteran. I got them to talk about a lot of things that they hadn’t talked about. With anyone in their family anyone else because like I said uniquely this is the first time you saw The country’s youngest generation of veterans saying goodbye to the oldest generation of veterans.

There’s no real good Documentation of that kind of interactions in our history. I don’t think I mean there there is you’ll see a lot of [00:09:00] photos of civil war veterans meeting World War one veterans World War one veterans meaning Desert Storm veterans like I’ve seen Things like that. But I wanted

Scott DeLuzio: to meet these people, but they have it documented for future generations to look at this and see the differences, the similarities between the generations and, and what they all experienced through their service.

And, you know, I think it’s, it’s kind of interesting that before the break, you were saying just. How impactful it was to pair the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with the World War II veterans, get them together. And I talked to other veterans these days and, uh, you know, the younger generation of veterans and they have such a resistance to joining.

You know, the VFW or the American Legion or things like that, because the mindset is, Oh, it’s just that the old man’s, uh, you know, drinking club, that type of thing, you know, it’s, it’s, uh, uh, you know, for the old [00:10:00] generations, for the world war II vets, the Korean vets, those types of things, but there’s such a powerful impact that could, could be had there.

If those two groups of people were to get together, the younger generations and the older generation, and they get together, that could be such a tremendous impact. I’m surprised, actually, that, um, you know, it doesn’t happen more often.

Andy Biggio: Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s the gap, you know, there was a 40 year gap between, um.

Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. There was a 25 year gap between Vietnam and World War II. Um, any conflicts we had in between were so small that there wasn’t sure millions of veterans. Involved in them. And so that’s why that’s another reason why you see so many American Legion posts and VFW posts that are closing their doors because of that huge gap.

Um, you know, the Vietnam vets are all retired in their 70s and now they’re looking for the next guys to take over. But we are all in like our early [00:11:00] 30s, starting families, having kids that. You know, we can’t get down to the VFW every day, you know, and that’s really not

Scott DeLuzio: where you want. If you’re starting a family, you’re, you got, you know, young kids at home or you’re just getting started in your career post military, um, yeah, spending your time at a VFW or American legion hall, maybe isn’t the place where you want to be.

Um, You know, at least not on a, you know, full time basis where you’re going there every night or, you know, even a couple of nights a week. But, um, you know, I think that there’s some benefit there to, you know, talking to those guys who’ve been there. They’ve done that. They’ve they’ve. Gone through those transitions that a lot of these younger guys are going through and they can maybe help out with some of that stuff.

And, and, uh, you know, so I, I see that as, as a potential benefit. But, um, you know, there’s just so much, um, you know, such a wealth of knowledge from these veterans that, that you were talking to. Um. And, and you mentioned it’s, you know, just kind of pairing the two [00:12:00] groups of people together. Um, you know, I, I feel like that is, you know, when, when you put those two groups together, I feel like you’re, you’re, um, just combining forces and you’re, you’re able to get a, um, you know, just a, a real powerful impact when you have those two groups of people together and, and helping each other out.

Andy Biggio: Right. Yeah, it’s, it’s been my addiction. Um, It just, it has. It’s like the best way to describe it. I wish every young veteran who may find themselves in a meaningless place, a dark place, or just a confused place on what, what’s next. You know, um, I, I would love to get them all like go down to your local nursing home, go down to your local.

Assisted living place because there’s some 100 year old or 98 year old legend in there.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that’s right. And these guys were, uh, you know, bigger badasses way back then, you know, they were… People reach out to me

Andy Biggio: all the time and they say, How do I meet a World War II legend? How do you do it? I’m like, and I get a little…

Or they ask… [00:13:00] me for contact information of those World War II veterans and it just aggravates me because I’m finding them right under my own nose in my own neighborhood and you can too and you don’t don’t worry about the guy that I post on Instagram or Facebook go Find your own guy because he exists and he probably deserves more attention than the attention.

I’m giving This particular

Scott DeLuzio: veteran, right. And that’s true because there are, you know, fortunately there are still some world war two veterans around. It’s not like there there’s none left and yeah, you can go find the other ones. You’ve, you’ve told stories of, of plenty of them, um, you know, that you were able to track down.

Um, but. But track down others, because like we were saying earlier, these are the stories of the, the average Joe who was out on the battlefield doing the grunt work. A lot of times, um, they all have different stories. You know, they, even if they’re in the same battles, they saw things from different perspectives.

They, they did things differently. You know, these things, um, you know, they, they can, uh, you know, just. Pair up with these [00:14:00] different stories and, um, you can even compare notes from, you know, one veteran who is in one battle to the other veteran who is in the same battle and, and see like, okay, what, what actually went down when, when this happened.

But if you’re just talking to just the one guy, um, you’re going to get one perspective and, and it’s, it’s, I think important to have a lot of different perspectives, especially when you’re talking boots on the ground. Um, yes. So we’re going to take a quick commercial break here when we get back, um, I want to talk a little bit more about, um, you know, this idea of bringing this rifle around and, and how it got to, uh, you know, spark some of these conversations.

So stay tuned. So, Andy, the stories that you were, that were told to you while you brought around the. The M one, uh, rifle, uh, to all of these world war two veterans, uh, sparked another idea, which I think you were starting to talk about a little bit earlier. Um, but basically to bring some of these veterans back to the battlefields that they fought on in Europe.[00:15:00]

Um, tell us about how those trips came to be and what, what those all look like.

Andy Biggio: Yeah. You know, um, I interviewed over 300 veterans, but what I found was consistent with over half of them was. They never returned to the battlefields they served on, um, in areas that like are people like our bucket list, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, and.

And especially as from veterans living on the Northeast, I mean, this is just like a quick six hour flight with no stops. And I asked them, you know, why didn’t you go back? You know, well, I was starting a family, I was moving all my life, and I had not so good memories of that stuff. And then now that that’s all over with, now that they’re not raising families anymore, and they have this young veteran across them.

And I asked them the second question, would you go back now? Would you ever go back now? For them to sit there and go, yeah, you know what? I think I would. I think I’d like to go back and then I’ll, I just say, well, let’s go. You know, let’s go. I’ll do a fundraiser and I’ll bring you in. [00:16:00] I’ve gone, I’ve brought in over 30 World War II veterans back to their battlefields.

Over half of them had never been back since the war. To see them walk in the woods, look at their foxholes again for the first time in over 70 years was just amazing. And again, that goes back to their chaperones and the people pushing their wheelchairs were all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. You know, this just was a non stop evolution of, like I said, therapeutic partnerships between young veterans and old veterans.

Just to see that these World War II veterans smiling ear to ear and being treated as liberated as they are, they were, they still are. You know, those local Belgian and French and Dutch people view these… Bigger than athletes. I mean, bigger than professional athletes. I mean, they line up on the sidewalk, three, four rows deep just to get a glimpse of a real

Scott DeLuzio: live war.

That’s the kind of reception that you guys [00:17:00] were getting when you went over there. Um, how did, how did the Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, uh, who were kind of escorting them and bringing them around places, how did they? Seem to receive that, that kind of, uh, feedback.

Andy Biggio: I like to think that they view it as the way I do that.

It’s kind of like. This is our welcome home to not just theirs, you know, um, because it’s seen how much they’re appreciated how much they’re celebrated makes me feel like they’re cheering me on to in a way, you know, and, and I’ve had them come up to me and say, thank you for your service and what you’ve done for, you know, and that’s so crazy because, you know, you’re a Belgian guy living in the woods in, in rural Belgium and, you know, You’re telling me that I helped protect you, and I, and I did this, that, and the other thing for your freedom, and that means a lot to me, that means a lot than I think what we get now here in America, where it used to be like, thank you for your service, and thank you for protecting us, and [00:18:00] now it’s just kind of like, oh, are you broken?

Is there something wrong with you now? Do you have PTSD? You know, I appreciate it.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. At some point. That’s true. Yeah.

Andy Biggio: After like 2013 or 14, we stopped seeing this like, thank you for your service, and then it went into a, are you okay type thing,

Scott DeLuzio: you know? Right. And, and I think that that’s important to have those conversations as well, but.

Um, you know, the, the appreciation and, um, you know, I know when coming back from overseas, the, the, the crowds of supporters who are in the airports who were waving American flags and all that kind of stuff, um, you know, that, that stuff is obviously dwindled. The, the, the conflicts aren’t. The way they were, um, you know, 10, 15 years ago.

Um, and so I think the reason why I was asking about the, uh, the way that the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans received the, uh, the treatment from the world war two veterans and the local people [00:19:00] in the areas that you guys were visiting over in Europe, um, I think the reason why I was asking about that is because having served in Afghanistan myself, I don’t ever envision a day where I’ll ever be able to get back to the places where I fought.

Um, you know, I don’t see that happening anytime in my lifetime. And so in a way, I’m sort of envious of those guys who are able to go. back there and get some closure, um, you know, after the conflict is over where the people there are appreciative, they’re supportive, they’re not shooting at them, they’re not having to dodge, you know, missiles or anything like that coming their way.

Um, and so I was kind of curious to see what did the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, uh, feel about those trips, but I definitely wasn’t. Anticipating that, that appreciation that they were receiving and the, um, the gratitude that they were receiving from the, the local people as well. Um, you know, it, it, to me, that was, um, you know, uh, surprising, uh, result, but, [00:20:00] you know, in a good way, um, definitely, definitely a good thing that they were getting that appreciation as well.


Andy Biggio: yeah. Um, I, I like to think that maybe Afghanistan or Iraq will become the next. Uh, you know, the next, uh, you know, friggin, not Abu Dhabi, but, uh, you know, where, where do all the tourists go? Oh, yeah. Um,

Scott DeLuzio: uh, I’ve drawn a blank on the name of it.

Andy Biggio: Um, they have all the skyscrapers and skydiving and, uh, Dubai, you know, you never know, you know, like it could become a, but, uh, It’s too bad, you know, because it’s like, well, if the Taliban are in charge, imagine if we left Germany with the Nazis in charge, like, no.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, and it’s just a shame, you know, that, that you go in all this, this time, this money, this, the resources, not only just, uh, you know, military equipment, but personnel that we lost over there or were severely wounded over there. [00:21:00] Um, and you know, we, we don’t get the, the nice happy ending where you get to go back and, and.

See that all the good that the hard work, uh, you know, put in, um, but there are places where, um, you know, so you’ve taken a bunch of people over to Europe. Are there any plans to make trips over to the Pacific theater? Um,

Andy Biggio: there’s, there’s a foundation there, like as in, I’m not like a group foundation, but like a base for.

Us Marines that are trying to do that, but it’s just, it’s a lot, like I said, you know, going from Boston to Paris or Boston to Rome or Boston to Amsterdam is a simple six, seven hour direct flight, uh, trying to take a Marine who’s in his late nineties to go to Saipan, uh, you’re talking Boston to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Hawaii, Hawaii to maybe Tokyo, Tokyo, that’s a lot, man.

That’s a lot. And then on these islands, there’s not, yeah. They’re not first world countries where you can just walk into a [00:22:00] restaurant, use a bathroom. I mean, like maybe in Okinawa, some parts of Saipan, but like, it’s just a lot more money, a lot more difficult on the veteran. I don’t want to get a veteran sick or, um, not have proper medical attention because we’re on a desolate island.

Hopefully the remains of a

Scott DeLuzio: pillbox. Yeah, that’s true. Um, you know, I hadn’t even thought of that, that just the logistics involved. You’re going a much further distance and to places that are much more remote as far as medical care goes and even just. Basic accommodations, hotels and things like that are, you know, while they, I’m sure they have those are probably not, you know, like what you might expect to find in Paris or Rome or, uh, you know, places like that.

So, um, so it just, uh, you know, incredible experience. I gotta imagine for the guys who were able to make it back to Europe, um, and, and go back into those, those battlefields and, uh, you know, visit the graves of maybe some of their, [00:23:00] their fallen comrades. Um, Any memorable moments that stick out to you from those trips to either the battle sites or anything like that?

Andy Biggio: I mean, yeah, I mean, we’ve had people who lived, survived during the war going up to the veterans saying, do you remember when this happened? Do you remember when that happened? The veterans saying, yeah, I do. And this was your house. I remember it was destroyed. Like. Wow, mind blowing, mind blowing. I’ll never forget, I had one guy named Harvey Siegel.

He served with the 2nd Infantry Division, he was Field Artillery. And they moved into this town in Germany called Haak Haak Haak Haakenfeld, Germany. Haak Haakenfeld, it was a, you know, weird name, I’m probably pronouncing it wrong. And… They took over this little village and there was a house that was like a big bed and breakfast and that’s where those guys, they kicked the Germans out and they moved in there.

And we went back to that Hack Hackenfeld and sure enough the bed and breakfast was still there. And we [00:24:00] knocked on the door and ha Harvey’s like, no, please don’t. I can’t, I don’t wanna see these people. Like I’m scared. And the grandchildren of those Germans that they kicked out said yes. We remember when the Americans came and kicked out, our grandparents would always tell us that story.

Come on in. We invite, they invited Harvey and me and gave us beer, showed us the room where he slept. And it was just amazing. That’s

Scott DeLuzio: incredible. And you know how these stories get passed on from one generation to another, um, you know, in their, uh, you know, in their world, from the grandparents down to the grandchildren, and I’m sure now those grandchildren are going to say, and then by the way, the, that same guy came back all these years later and knocked on the door and he, we showed him around and everything.

They’re going to tell their kids and those stories are going to continue to live on that way. Um, But also they live on in, uh, the book that you wrote as well. And I think that’s, um, you know, even, even more important is that you have. These stories, uh, [00:25:00] documented now, uh, in, in a physical form, that’s going to outlive not only those veterans, but it’s going to outlive all of us because you now have this, this, uh, document on, in these books.

And I think that’s just really important to be able to have those, to share those with future generations, uh, you know, all those stories. Um, For sure.

Andy Biggio: Or I, I don’t regret my journey at all. And, um, God, it’s going to be a sad day when they’re all gone. And they’ve become of 300 of them. You know, this, a lot of them I’ve become really close to, you know, like take them grocery shopping, uh, check in on them, play cards with them on Sundays.

And, um, you know, it’s, it’s just, uh, it’s more than just sign my rifle. And, uh, thanks a lot, buddy. And never talk to you again. I’m there for them. Yeah. And I think

Scott DeLuzio: them getting that rifle back in their hands and. And feeling the stock, feeling the metal, feeling the everything, uh, that they felt all those years ago, um, has got to bring back some, some memories, some [00:26:00] emotions, uh, and, and, and everything.

Um, and it. It definitely probably makes us the stories that much better as opposed to just walking up to him cold and just asking him, Hey, tell me about this, you know, tell me about this time in your life. Um, you know, you got to be able to get much better stories out of them when you have that type of, uh, you know, kind of lead in that intro with that type of rifle.

So we’re gonna talk a little bit more about that when we get back, but we’re gonna cut to a quick commercial break. So stay tuned. So Andy, when. You bring these Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, um, you know, along on those trips. They obviously had firsthand experiences with these, these veterans, uh, these World War II veterans going back to the, the battlefields that they fought on, going back to the cemeteries and the other places along those lines.

Um, The stories that you have documented now in, in your book, um, how do you think that those stories can help out the future generations, the, the Iraq, Afghanistan veterans, and even future [00:27:00] veterans, um, who are going to fight in wars that we don’t even know about quite yet.

Andy Biggio: Yeah, I think it’s a story of survival and overcoming.

And I think that if these young veterans can see that. And read about these average Joes who stormed Iwo Jima, who were captured in the Battle of the Bulge. That they were able to come home and live long, successful lives, and have kids, and have a career, and have a normal life to the most of their ability.

They can too, that we can too. And, um, you know, it’s, those guys, a lot of these veterans, when you open up my book, you’ll see that it wasn’t just war was black and white, right? It wasn’t just, we came home and we were heroes and da da da da da, we got parades and that was the end of it. No, like, the greatest generation did some not II, and that stuck with a lot of these.

Despite what the newspapers were showing, what the media was showing, that we’re all… And, [00:28:00] uh, everything is great. Um, the World War II veterans in my book will tell you that the bad things that they had to do and what they suffered and what they saw and how they overcame it. And they don’t care how many people were calling them the greatest generation, that they suffered some psychological stuff.

And I want the younger veterans to see that. It wasn’t just good versus evil and the war wasn’t, World War II wasn’t just black and white and that, um, a lot of Americans felt guilty and horrible what they did to the Germans and what they did to the Japanese.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, and there’s a, that moral injury aspect of it, where you, you are put into a situation where you might have to do these things that are completely maybe against your moral code.

Um, and it, but you’re, like you said before, it’s a story of survival and, um, you. You either do these things or you don’t, and you, you don’t survive in some cases. And, and so, um, you know, I, a hundred percent, I, I think that these stories need to be told, um, [00:29:00] to let people know that they’re not alone. In the feelings that they have after coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan or some other place in the future, because, um, the, these stories are very common where you have people who suffer these psychological, um, you know, issues after combat, um, they come back and they figure out a way to bounce back from it.

And be, be resilient. I think that maybe that’s the word to, to put on this is it’s a story of resiliency, right?

Andy Biggio: Yeah, for sure. And, um. You know, I just, I hope people get out there and can meet their own heroes before. Yeah, absolutely.

Scott DeLuzio: And, um, you were talking earlier about ways to do that, like places that you can go to find these other veterans, um, you know, going to, you know, nursing homes or, you know, your local veterans hospital, or, you know, places like that, where these people are going to start [00:30:00] congregating.

They’re going to, there’s going to be more and more of them around these areas. Um, That’s a easy, simple way. It’s not super hard to find these people. It’s not like they’re, they’re going to be, you know, stuck in the woods in some, you know, cabin somewhere that they’re, you know, away from society necessarily, because, um, you know, they’re probably going to be closer to places where they can get the care that they need as they’re getting older.

Um, and so, yeah, fine. Seek these people out. Um, you know, not all of them are going to want to share their stories and that’s fine. Um, but. There’s going to be some who do want to share their stories and, and talk to them. And like you said, you know, helping with their groceries, play cards with them, do, do things that will, you know, kind of open them up and, and get them to, to share their experience and share their, their time serving our country.

Um, Because those stories will be, will be gone, uh, before too long and that, that would be a, uh, just a terrible shame. I think, yeah, you also have another book that’s coming out. Um, so your, your first book we mentioned earlier, uh, [00:31:00] the rifle and you have the rifle too, which is coming out as well. Can you tell us a little bit about that book?

Andy Biggio: Yeah, so, uh, Rifle 1 was a very great success. And, um, I had collected so many stories, I said, why not make a part 2? So, Rifle Volume 2 is coming out September 18th. But this time was a little different. I chose, um, it’s a little bit more controversial. These are, uh, a lot of men I met that, um… Half the book is full of guys who came home and were not the greatest generation.

We got liars, we have alcoholics, we have guys who didn’t get honorable discharges, guys that did jail time after the war, guys who tried to commit suicide, you know. So these are all the guys that were swept under the rug by our government. Um, and so not only did they overcome World War II, they overcame, came home, and came over their personal battles, and then they had a successful life after.

So, these weren’t the guys who just came home and flourished. These guys came home, had a rocky, very rocky [00:32:00] road, and then were able to flourish. So, um, This one’s basically, uh, you know, the bastards of the battlefield, I call it. And I’ve had to, I’ve had to change a lot of names on this book and things like that to protect the identity of the veterans.

And, you know, some of them were, were stolen valor, you know, that I met, you know, they were such good liars, you know, so, um,

Scott DeLuzio: yeah. I think an important part of the story to tell as well is that not everybody comes home to the parades and the heroes welcome like you see in the newspapers or in the television clips from, from way back then, um, You see all of that, that stuff and everyone’s happy, everyone’s smiling, everyone, you know, they’re, they’re grabbing the girl and they’re, they’re giving a kiss in the middle of the street.

You know, that, that type of thing. It’s like, it’s not all that, that that’s not the whole story. Um, maybe the only part of the story that’s actually being told because that’s the glamorous part of it. That that’s the part that we want to believe. Um, [00:33:00] but. Just like the current generations have trouble when they get home and they they’re dealing with some stuff the generations back then we’re dealing, uh, dealing with some stuff as well.

Um, downside back then is that they didn’t have anywhere near the type of support that we have now as far as mental health and other kind of counseling and support and services and things like that. Um, it’s kind of like, hey, buddy, go figure it out. You know, you’re home now, you did your job, we, we paid you, we, we did what we needed to do, um.

Now go back to your life and go figure it out. Um, and that’s, you know, I think we all know that’s not necessarily the best way to send people back into society, but that’s where they were. And so, like you said, a lot of these guys were ended up getting into some trouble. Um, you know, they, they end up with, uh, you know, drinking issues, troubles with the law, other, other issues that they may end up having.

Um, And that’s [00:34:00] the not so sexy side of, uh, of war. And I think those stories need to be told as well because, um, people need to know that they’re not alone when they’re going through some of these things. And when you have these stories out there, it’s much easier to share that with people and let them know, no, you’re not alone.

There, there are other people, even, even of the greatest generation, there were people who suffered and they struggled, you know, and so it’s important. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Um, Now, any, uh, you know, kind of interesting stories from, from that book. Uh, I know this episode is going to come out a couple of weeks before this book, uh, is released, but, uh, any interesting stories that you want to share that, that kind of entice some of the listeners to maybe grab a copy when the book comes out?

Oh, absolutely.

Andy Biggio: I mean, I brought a, a fighter pilot, a 100 year old. Fighter pilot back to Belgium and in Germany. And we located the crash sites of his friends, found pieces of the plane still [00:35:00] in the dirt, like the farmers that now reside in this area. Over the last 30, 40 years, when they’ve been farming, have been digging up pieces of the plane here and there and leaving it in a pile in their shed and to give these pieces back to the, the, the wingman of his, of his partner, of, of Ed Cottrell was the P 47 pilot and to hand him back pieces of his.

Best friends plane, 78 years later. I mean, it was just amazing. It was amazing. I never thought like me as a Marine infantryman could bond with an Air Force guy and we did, we cried together, we hugged each other and, um, uh, what we uncovered of his, he lost both of his roommates during the battle of the Bulls, they were shot down and killed.

And, um, and to be on the crash site in the area is just amazing with him. And that’s. That’s one of the first chapters that start off with me and Ed Cattrall, um, who’s now 102. And we’re going back again this December to, uh, the commemorations in Belgium. [00:36:00] So yeah, it’s been really good. It’s

Scott DeLuzio: great too, that, that some of these guys actually get to go back multiple times, not, not just the one time to go back, because, you know, I got to imagine the first time going back to some of these places is probably somewhat overwhelming.

And being able to go back a second time, maybe to take in some of the stuff that maybe you couldn’t quite handle, it couldn’t quite process when, when you’re going there that first time. And it’s, it’s kind of that shock to your system. Um, then you, you sort of get used to it and you kind of know what to expect, uh, when you get there and, um, you know, it takes a little bit of a.

The anticipation away from it. And then you can maybe fully enjoy the experience of being there. Not to say that the guys who’ve only gone once didn’t enjoy it, but, um, you might, I would imagine you’d probably be able to get more out of that experience by going, going a second time or, um, you know, even, even multiple times, uh, after that, um, to, to really.

Andy Biggio: Which we did.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:37:00] Those, those veterans, um, I got to imagine, did they have, uh, any sort of other, uh, stories that, that you want to share that, that might be, um, interesting for the listeners? Well, Scott,

Andy Biggio: you want me to spoil the whole book for you? No, I’m kidding. No, uh, it’s, I think another one people will be mind blown that I befriended this guy who was so convincing and we went back to France together and then I found out he was totally full of shit.

He was totally a liar, and he tricked me, and I’m a police detective for crying out loud. And, um, he fooled everybody. For years and years and years he was going to reunions on D Day and Normandy and we figured out he was full of it. And, you know, he almost ruined me as a, as a credible author and historian, but at the same time, I felt bad and I understand why he lied and the horrible life he had, and, you know, he may be a liar, but he’s my liar, you know, and I’m stuck with him, so it’s, uh, You know, it’s a [00:38:00] good story and you know, he, that’s someone I had to change his name in the book to, to not embarrass him or his family.

And he’s since

Scott DeLuzio: passed away. Well, you know, and I, yeah, I don’t, I don’t want you to, you know, give too much of the book away, but stories like that, I think are, are important because I think we’ve probably all heard of stories of people back in that generation who lied in one way or another about something.

And. It may have just been, they were, you know, 15, 16 years old and they lied about their age in order to serve. Right. This is the flip side of that. This is a different kind of lying. Um, someone who maybe didn’t do the service that they claimed that they did a stolen valor situation and they’re now coming out and now you realize that they’re, they’re full of it.

Um, and That’s, uh, that’s something that, again, it’s a story that I don’t think enough people, uh, recognize is even a thing that, that happens that much. Um, but it does. And [00:39:00] especially when you’re talking about people from back then where record keeping wasn’t as good as it is now, where, you know, we have everything digitally.

Recorded. So, you know, it’s real easy to go just look up in a database somewhere, you know, someone’s service records and all that kind of stuff. Um, back then it was, you know, basically a slip of paper that had your name on it and this was your proof that you served. And so, you know, it doesn’t necessarily exist in certain places, um, that, that you might want to go look these things up.

Um, so, so much easier for people to do it back, like back then. But, um, but yeah, you don’t think about those, those types of things. So.

Andy Biggio: Yeah, most of them, I know most of these guys back then definitely served in some sort of capacity But they just completely embellished on what battles they were in, what units they served in, what they did, you know And now I don’t think they realize that like I can just pull all their records, you know, and uh, well And sometimes record, sometimes records will tell a different story where it’s like you could have someone potentially that [00:40:00] served in the 82nd Airborne and jumped into Sicily and jumped into Holland and was wounded, but then his final discharge says Store Clerk 308th Quartermaster Battalion, but that’s just because that’s where they finished their service.

That’s the last unit they finished their service with, you know, so you really got to do a lot of,

Scott DeLuzio: um, because With my grandfather, he served in World War II, he was in the Navy. Um, and I requested his service records to find out more about his service. He’s, he passed away when I was young. Um, and I just, for education purposes, I want to learn a little bit more about.

Where he served, what he did, all that kind of stuff. And, um, it’s a lot of, a lot of searching through these records and a lot of connecting dots to, to figure out, you know, where he was, you know, he was at the battle at Iwo Jima and, uh, you know, all that stuff, but it’s like, you’ve got to dig through a lot of different records to, to be able to figure this stuff out.

So, so you’re absolutely right with, with all of the, um, [00:41:00] uh, the record keeping and everything like that, that, that goes into it. Um, it’s, it’s not an easy. Uh, easy task to, to dig up all of that information. Um, but, um, so we’re going to take another quick commercial break. Uh, when we get back, we’ll talk more about, uh, where you can go to find the book and, um, and how you can get involved in support these trips over to Europe.

So stay tuned. So Andy, really incredible, uh, work that you’re doing taking these veterans back to Europe, uh, pairing them up with the Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, um, documenting their stories. All the stuff that you’re doing, I think is absolutely amazing. Um, for the listeners. Who have been following along and they’re, they’re interested in getting a copy of your, your books.

Um, where can they go to get a copy of your books or, or even to make a donation to help, uh, help out some of these World War II veterans take that trip back to the battlefields that they, they once fought on or, or where they can go to get [00:42:00] the information for that. Sure.

Andy Biggio: Um, You can find The Rifle on Amazon, uh, The Rifle, just type in The Rifle and you’ll see it, World War, uh, Stories of America’s, uh, last World War II veterans told through an M1 Grant.

Um, The Rifle 1, The Rifle 2 is on Amazon. And then, um, if you’d like to make a donation, uh, to my… My mission to bring more World War II veterans back before it’s too late to, uh, Europe. Um, you can find it at, uh, theworldwartowrifle. com. Uh, we have GoFundMe and we have PayPal. And then on Instagram, The Rifle, or Facebook, The Rifle.

Uh, I guarantee you, if you make a donation, I will… Not let you down. You will see that I do produce and I will bring these guys back to where they are.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. And so I will have links to all of that in the show notes for the listeners who, uh, want to either get a copy of the book or either book. Um, I know the, the second book, the rifle too, won’t be out for a couple of weeks once in this episode comes out, but I’ll have the link there, uh, you know, as soon as it does come out, [00:43:00] um, and I’ll have links to where they can go to make donations to help some of these, uh, World War II veterans get back to.

The battlefields that they once fought on, um, and, and make some memories for them. Um, you know, hopefully, hopefully good memories, um, but also, uh, to bring some closure in cases where maybe it’s not the best of memories, um, and, and help them along the way that way. So, um, Andy, I really do appreciate you taking the time to join us and share these stories.

Um, you know, I, I, I think the work that you do is, is really incredible. Um, and, um, You know, I, I, I hope that you continue doing this and, and getting more people out there to, to the battlefields that they once fought on. Thank

Andy Biggio: you. Thanks for having me on the show and, and being able to spread my, um, my whole awareness permission.

Scott DeLuzio: Absolutely. Thanks for listening to the Drive on Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also [00:44:00] follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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