Frank J. Montoya

THE TRUST TROOPER

There was once an Army Command called TRUST.
5000 U.S. Soldiers were stationed there.
Their mission: To support the AMG,
And with the British, this task, they did gladly share.

The Allied Military Government, by joint decree,
Would bring peace and order and tranquility
To the Free Territory of Trieste
In Northern Italy, on the Adriatic Sea.

Were the troops handpicked? We reckoned so!
For special, in many ways, were we.
We were “Ambassadors” in a foreign land;
Our conduct: Above reproach, it must always be.

We were required to memorize a thousand things;
The insignia of all the services, their colors too,
General orders, Chain of Command, and so much more
And if you didn’t learn, there would be no pass for you.

Our field gear would not be just plain OD;
All items were dyed to a jet black hue,
Our shirts were pleated and were highly starched;
We wore shiny brass and silken scarves of blue.

Our bayonets glistened; our boots were dazzling bright,
And our clothing was tailored to fit just right.
Our trousers were bloused with elastic bands
With chains inside to hold the creases tight.

Every bit of metal we wore was buffed or chromed.
Every buckle and eyelet had a sparkling gleam.
Our helmet liners were painted a glossy black.
We looked sharp, stood tall; we were the Colonel’s dream.

I loved Trieste then, and I still do.
It was called The Pearl of the Adriatic Sea.
It had pretty girls, friendly folk and fantastic food.
It had the best tasting beer… it was like Heaven to me.

And though we received no ribbon, no award, no badge,
We considered ourselves among the best;
And we’re still proud to bear the title of…
The Chrome Plated Troopers of Trieste.

Author’s Note: In May, 1945 a company of the 22d Battalion, 2nd New Zealand Division entered the city of Trieste, in Northern Italy, driving out the last of Yugoslavian partisans. My wife, a young girl of 14 at the time, remembers it very well. The Germans had occupied Trieste for so long, and then Tito’s partisans (experiences in another life that she will never forget).

She remembers that day so vividly because with the coming of the New Zealanders came freedom, food and water, three of life’s basic necessities, of which they had had none and very little of, respectively, for many months.

Trieste became a disputed territory and was finally split into two Zones, A and B, and put under a Military Government with Zone A under American and British control and Zone B under Yugoslav control, and remained so until 1955.

The forces in Zone A were known as TRUST (Trieste United States Troops) and BETFOR (British Element, Trieste Forces). I served there for three years, my first assignment after enlisting in the US Army. I can’t help but wonder if anyone in NZ today was a member of that liberating force?

The story of the liberation of Trieste is included in “One More River”, part of the 2nd New Zealand Infantry Division History.

The poem tells it like it was being a TRUST Trooper.