Veteran Voices of the Central Coast –
Charlie Craviotto

Many Santa Barbara locals remember the late Charlie Craviotto as one of the co-owners of Craviotto Brothers Ironworks, but not all may know that he fought in Germany during World War II. 

Craviotto was drafted to the Army in 1944 at 20 years old. After basic training, he was promptly shipped to Europe as part of the 80th Division. He was assigned to one of the many replacement depots, which the soldiers commonly called "repple depples." Troops stationed at the replacement depots individually replaced soldiers killed and wounded in front-line combat units during the war.

These depots were located near the battle fronts so individual soldiers could be sent by generals to companies and battalions to replace the men lost. The idea was that this system allowed divisions to stay in or near continuous combat for days on end.

But, the reality was that these men quickly became casualties as they were unfamiliar with the fighting formations to which they were subsequently assigned and often had no one in their unit looking out for them because they hadn’t built up a camaraderie. In 1945, The New York Times Magazine called the repple depples “dreary places.”

Craviotto worked his way up the line awaiting his orders to join the front. In early 1945, he was off to the front deep into Germany in the months following the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign which caught Allied forces off guard and resulted in the highest number of American casualties of any operation during the war.

On the first day in the trench, Craviotto and his fellow troops were instructed not to move, even an inch, until instructed to do so.  After waiting for an interminable amount of time, Craviotto poked his head up to see what was going on. In a split second, a German sharpshooter took aim at Craviatto.

He was wounded with a bullet or shrapnel that entered one side of his cheek and out the other. It didn’t hit a single tooth or render him mortally injured, but the wound was bad enough to send him to the hospital in England, ending his battle career.

Craviotto was famous for saying, "I actually was in the war for 20 minutes!"

The war was over eight months after Craviottos's return. He received the Purple Heart, and many other commendations for his good conduct and participation with the combat Infantry.

Craviotto was sent home to start his life again as a partner in Craviotto Brothers Ironworks with his younger brother, Dan. He started a family and established his life and legacy in the Santa Barbara community.
The business, started in 1914 by Craviotto’s father, Erasmus John Craviotto (a WWI veteran), was part of the Santa Barbara landscape at Anacapa and Ortega streets for more than 80 years. It closed in 2000. Charlie passed away in 2004.

Danny used to say, “I couldn’t have picked a better brother, a better friend or a better business partner.”

To support the mission to ensure that the local men and women who have served our country, such as Charlie Craviotto, are “Never Forgotten,” you can make a donation by mailing a check to the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Fund, 1187 Coast Village Rd, Suite 1-334, Santa Barbara, CA or DONATE NOW.