In December of 1943, Lieutenant John "Jocko" Thompson of Beverly, Massachusetts, was on the heights of Italy's Mount Sammucro with a battalion of the U.S. 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Battling Germans on the long road to capture Rome, the 504th had parachuted into Italy back in September, and now found itself clinging to a rocky mountain peak in the Apennine Range, trading rifle fire and mortar rounds with the enemy on a neighboring peak.
During a heavy artillery bombardment on December 13th, thirteen of Thompson's comrades were knocked out of action, and then a bullet found him....
The round smashed into his chest, knocking him backwards and stunning him.
But when he was checked for wounds, none were found. The bullet - most likely spent - had struck the Army spoon he had in the pocket of his jump jacket.
This wasn't a strange place for it - to conserve weight, many paratroopers left their mess kits behind when they made a combat jump, taking with them only their spoon, which was the most pragmatic utensil in the kit.
Lieutenant Thompson went on to lead troops in Operation Market Garden in 1944, parachuting into Holland, survived the Battle of the Bulge in December of that year, and later served in the occupation force in Germany.
During the war he was wounded twice (and carried shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life), and received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for heroism in combat.
When he received his discharge after the war's end, he returned to his pre-war profession: playing professional baseball in the Red Sox farm system before being called up to the Majors in 1948 to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.