By the Rohna Committee
Special to the Voice
A classic story/movie was The Greatest Story Ever Told. Next week’s West Haven Voice will carry what the Walter F. Stankiewicz family would call one of the most beautiful stories ever told, and it’s a Christmas story you will never forget.
On a cold, rainy Sunday, Dec. 2, a presentation was made at West Haven’s great Veterans Museum and Learning Center. The subject was the story of the three soldiers lost in the Nov. 26, 1943, sinking of the troop ship, HMT Rohna, off the North African coast. Details are here, taken from the account on the Museum’s Wall of Honor:
Pacifico A. Migliore, Jr., John T. Cox and Pasquale J. Logiodice grew up in West Haven, and all attended West Haven High School. Together they entered the Army Air Corp on January 18, 1943. They were assigned together in the 853rd Engineer Battalion. They were three of the 1,015 U.S. casualties in the sinking of the transport ship, HTM Rohna on Nov. 26, 1943.
The ship was hit by a new weapon—a rocket-propelled, remote-controlled, glide bomb. The details were kept classified for 50 years. The three soldiers and buddies are named on the Tablets of the Missing, North Africa American Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia. The men, all Private First Class, were awarded the Purple Heart, Good Conduct, WWII Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal.
If you were at the loving presentation by students of WHHS, two active duty servicemen, Staff Sgt. Philip Lee, U.S. Army, and Seaman Mason Couch, U.S.C.G., and individuals reading actual letters (1943) from loved ones, you might have noticed a technician assembling the sound system.
Our technician on that Sunday was Michael Walsh, an author of two amazing books, Rohna Memories: Eyewitness to Tragedy and Rohna Memories II. Walsh went on later to show examples of his sound/visual recordings of survivors’ and relatives’ memories of the harrowing tales.
Walsh has graciously allowed the Voice to bring you Walter Stankiewicz’ account as told by Frank, a nephew. This will appear in next week’s Voice.
Michael, his wife, Danette, and a half dozen other survivor association members traveled a distance to come to join us in our endeavors. They pitched right in to help us all succeed. Participants then enjoyed pizza “and” at Zuppardi’s Restaurant. It seemed that we were all relatives joined happily together.
More details and “thanks” will follow next week.
A little note: Cathy St. Clair (who helped us, along with her husband, Ray St Clair, U.S. Navy, Ret.), wanting to point out something important, said at one point, “Don’t call them men; they were only boys!”