Meyer Lansky's Medal of Freedom
Meyer Lansky's Medal of Freedom

The Mob Experience presents Meyer Lansky’s Medal of Freedom, presented to him by President Truman in a secret ceremony at the White House.

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In 1943 the allied forces were trying to figure out how to invade Italy and take out Mussolini. The office of Naval Intelligence approached Meyer Lansky to discuss an alliance with organized crime. The Office of Naval Intelligence and allied forces were evaluating who was in Italy that they could partner with to help them in this process. They narrowed it down to two groups that didn’t get along with Mussolini, the Communists and the Mafia.

The Americans decided they couldn’t work with the communists so that left the Mafia as their only option. The Office of Naval Intelligence set a meeting with Meyer Lansky at Wolfies Delicatessen in Florida, where Meyer Lansky lived, and discussed the mob's communicating with the Sicilian Mafia to coordinate an invasion in Italy of allied forces. The plan was to have assistance getting through the mountain passes that would lead them straight to Mussolini.

Charles “Lucky” Luciano was a notorious mob boss and associate of Meyer Lansky. He was in prison on a 30 year sentence for compulsory prostitution in Dannemora. Meyer Lansky visited Lucky Luciano in prison and they agreed to help the allied forces. Lucky Luciano struck a deal that guaranteed full assistance of his organization in providing intelligence to the Navy. In addition, Luciano’s associate Albert Anastasia (who controlled the docks and ran Murder Inc.) guaranteed no dockworker strikes throughout the war. This later became known as Operation Underworld.

Allegedly the US Navy had a single Navy plane drop a yellow flag with a black letter L on a field in Sicily. This was a message from Lucky Luciano to Don Vizzini, the head of the Sicilian Mafia. The message was clear, for the Mafia to assist the allied forces. The allied forces arrived in Sicily and Don Vizzini spent six days on an American tank guiding the Americans and the allied forces. They went through the mountain pass and into the heart of Italy. Don Vizzini’s mafia took out Mussolini’s snipers in the mountain passes as the tank brigade made its way through. The Mafia’s involvement and assistance with the invasion of Sicily was known as Operation Husky.

As an award, Lucky Luciano was paroled from prison and exiled to Italy where he lived out the rest of his life. Meyer Lansky received the Medal of Freedom that the Mob Experience now owns. The Medal of Freedom was presented by President Truman. In 1945, there were five recipients who where awarded the official Medal of Freedom. This medal represents the sixth that was unrecorded and given to Meyer Lansky in a secret ceremony at the White House.


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