On July 8, 1945 at the POW camp in Salina, Utah, Private Clarence V. Bertucci went on guard duty around midnight. A few minutes later he began firing his .30 caliber machine gun towards the tents of the sleeping German POWs. Once he had emptied the 250 round belt, he called down to a fellow guard who had stumbled out of his tent upon hearing the gun fire to "Send up more ammo, I'm not done yet!"(Utah Local News)
In the aftermath, 8 men would have been killed instantly, another who had been nearly split in half would die hours later, and twenty others would have sustained injuries. Bertucci would be put under observation and deemed mentally unstable. He would be sent to a mental institution in New York and would be one of three Americans to be brought up on charges after the war for brutality against Prisoners of War.
When asked why he did it, Bertucci claimed that he despised Nazis. Those that were killed on that fateful night would be buried with military honors. However, the families back home would not discover the fate of their loved ones until 1948.
This story could not have been brought to my attention at a better time. I have become my continued research on the Axis POW camps that the 29 from Kossuth County were in, and each camp is very different. I have not had the privilege to know the history of many other POW camps in the United States, except for Camp Algona. I have some knowledge of a couple in Wisconsin and the west coast, but it seems like opinions of guards were not all the same and did not all find the Geneva Convention a way to effectively oversee POWs,in their opinion.
For more information on the 'Midnight Massacre':
Shooting Adds Tragedy to history of POWs in Utah