November 2021 – In 1944, 20-year-old American soldier Martin Adler was part of the Allied forces pushing the Nazis northward across Italy. Entering the village of Monterenzio, Adler and fellow soldiers cautiously searched for German stragglers. In one empty house, Adler pointed his machine gun toward a large, overturned basket, anticipating a hidden Nazi. Instead, a terrified mother rushed in front of Adler’s gun, repeatedly screaming, “Bambinis!” Three stair-stepped siblings fearfully emerged from the basket, but Adler quickly made new friends with reassuring smiles and American chocolate bars. For 77 years, Adler cherished the memory of that fateful day through a photograph of him and the rescued children – Bruno, Mafalda, and Giuliana Naldi.
Now 97 years old, Adler was reunited with those siblings after his daughter found them online with the help of an American veterans group and an Italian journalist. Adler and the Naldis had a video reunion in December 2020. Then in August, he and his wife flew from Boca Raton, Florida, to Bologna, Italy, where Adler joyfully presented chocolate bars to each of the Naldi siblings, now all octogenarians and grandparents.