The West Haven Squirt A travel hockey team went 3-0 on the weekend with all three wins by the same score of 4-1. The Westies posted a pair of wins on Saturday against West Hartford A and Southern A1. On Sunday, the Westies knocked off South Windsor A. The Blue Devils are now 12-6-1 on the season.
On Saturday morning at the Edward L. Bennett Rink, the Westies took on the West Hartford Wolves in a rematch of a game won 6-4 by the Wolves at the end of September. This time, the West Haven defense of Leo Mazuroski, Matthew Kelly, Jonathan Charbonneau, and Ryan Pniewski was terrific and led the team to a 4-1 win. The Westies are now 8-1 on home ice this season.
Cameren Lipford scored the only goal of the first period when he went top shelf with 2:51 left on the clock. Ethan Kelly started the play from behind the net with a pass to Matthew Kelly at the point and Matthew found Lipford in front of the goal.
Maddex LaFountain stopped a breakaway one minute into the second and Mazuroski cleared the loose puck off the goal line. Matthew Kelly found Lipford again on a 4-on-4 for a 2-0 lead two minutes later. Sean Studley held off a defenseman and wristed home Ethan Kelly’s pass for a 3-0 advantage. Pniewski closed the West Haven scoring with a laser from the point with Ethan Kelly assisting. LaFountain made 12 saves in net for the win.
On Saturday afternoon at the Milford Ice Pavilion, the Blue Devils posted their second 4-1 win of the day, this time over the Southern Stars.
Studley found the net first for West Haven when he deposited Lipford’s pass into the lower left corner five minutes into the game. Ethan Kelly made it 2-0 when Mazuroski’s shot deflected to his stick and he fired it home.
Matthew Kelly jammed in his own rebound midway through the second period before a breakaway goal by the Stars made it 3-1 heading into the final period. Ethan Kelly’s unassisted backhander was the only goal of the third period. LaFountain turned aside 11 shots in goal for the Westies.
On Sunday morning at the South Windsor Arena, the Westies dominated the opening period against the South Windsor Knights. Lipford scored first with a power play goal set up by nice passing from Studley and Ethan Kelly two minutes into the game. Lipford found Studley who wristed it home to finish off a pretty two-on-one to make it 2-0. Mazuroski weaved through traffic and fired on net while Iversen slammed in the rebound for a 3-0 lead at the break.
Lipford led Studley with a pass into the Knights’ zone and then tapped in Studley’s return pass for a 4-0 lead in the second period. South Windsor broke through for a breakaway goal with a minute left in the game to make the final score 4-1. LaFountain capped off the undefeated weekend by making 15 saves for the Blue Devils.
The West Haven Peewee A travel hockey team split a pair of games this past weekend, topping Watertown on Saturday and falling to the Riverhawks on Sunday.
Against Watertown in Shelton Saturday evening, the Westies posted a 6-0 victory. Mickey Dowd and Michael Madera led the offense as Dowd scored four times and Madera picked up three assists. Cody Rocchio also added two assists in the win.
West Haven took control of the game with five goals in the opening period. Dowd gave West Haven a 1-0 lead 6:53 into the game off an assist from Madera, before Bruno Martone scored off an assist from Rocchio 2:51 later.
Dowd and Madera hooked up for the next two goals as Dowd scored twice in 40 seconds, both off assists from Madera. Dylan Bosworth gave the Westies a 5-0 lead with six seconds left in the opening period off an assist from Rocchio.
West Haven added one more goal in the win as Dowd scored off an assist from Zach Goetze 1:41 into the second. Bryan Hong started and made three saves for the Westies, while Jacob Silva made 12 saves to complete the shutout.
Haygen Axelrod, Jason Alling, Martone, Bosworth and Ray Heenie all played well defensively in the win for the Westies.
In what was a close contest for most of the game, West Haven fell to the Riverhawks 6-2 Sunday morning at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in West Haven.
West Haven took a 1-0 lead 3:30 in when Dowd scored off an assist from Martone. The Riverhawks evened the game at one less than five minutes later, then scored twice in a span of 2:44 in the second for a 3-1 lead.
Trailing 4-1, the Westies cut the deficit in half with 11:36 to go when Goetze scored off an assist from Martone. The Westies mounted the pressure over the next eight minutes, but could not get closer. The Riverhawks sealed the game with two goals in t a span of 2:04 in the final 3:33.
The West Haven Bantam A travel hockey team had two games this past weekend and came out on top in both games. The Westies go into this week with a six-game winning streak.
On Saturday, the Blue Devils welcomed the Yale Bulldogs AA team. Yale scored first in the game with five minutes remaining in the first period. West Haven answered just 30 seconds later off a goal from Anthony Peschell as Carl Murgo was credited with the assist.
Murgo scored midway through the second period to give the Westies the lead, with an assist coming from Matt Morgan. The Blue Devils took a two goal lead off an unassisted goal from Justin Pniewski with 3:42 remaining in the second.
After a back and forth third period, the Bulldogs pulled within one with two minutes left after a redirected goal off of three different players. West Haven was able to maintain their lead and close out the game with a 3-2 victory. Michael Andreesen played a full game in goal for the Westies. Joey Honcz, David Brown and Jayden Spreyer all played well in the victory.
On Sunday, the Blue Devils traveled to Avon Old Farms Prep School to take on the Avon Panthers, coming out with a 7-0 victory.
West Haven got the scoring started early off a goal from Ryan Bernardi in the first minute of the game, with Nolan Cole getting the assist. At the 9:56 mark of the first, Cade Simone scored the next two goals within 20 seconds of each other, Dante Hardt and Sean Bosworth were credited with the helpers on the goals.
Morgan scored an unassisted goal three minutes later. Pniewski scored three minutes later to finish up a five-goal first period for the Westies. Adrian Fielosh got the assist on Pniewski’s second goal of the weekend.
Cole scored two goals in the second period to seal the deal for the Blue Devils. Matt Wezenski was credited with an assist on Cole’s second goal, his third point of the day.
Brendan Smith played a full game in goal for the Blue Devils, getting credit for the win and a shutout. Kevin Gardner, Colin Deane and Jojo D’Aurio all played well in the game and the weekend.
West Haven Youth Basketball kicked off its Junior Division with games Friday night at Seth Haley.
The opener saw the Louises Bakery Cardinals rally to down the Eagles, 18-13. Madden Evangeliste hit for four points and Lily Granata, Jada Fowler, Adora Morgan also supplied the offense for the Cardinals in their win. Amarae Rosario and Amalia Ortiz combined for eight points for the Eagles. Madyson Ortiz and Justice Butler chipped in points for the Eagles.
Noelle Lawrence netted 12 points and Dijon Taylor added six to lead the Bruins past the Blue Devils, 24-8. Neveah Stegall and Abby Wynrus also scores for the Bruins attack. Mica Pullen was the offensive star for the Blue Devils.
The final game of the night saw Taryn Walker, Finley Gunning and Cashlin O’Neil explode for 24 points to lead the Gunning Law Firm Huskies to a 30-15 win over the M & S Landscaping Panthers. Haleigh McCarthy and Emma McFarland also helped on the offensive end for the Huskies. The two-time defending champion Panthers, reeling for the departure of Coach Mark Krajcir, were led by the 15 points of Ciara Harp.
On the final weekend of the regular season, the West Haven Youth Soccer League once again had to brave the wet and muddy conditions, but the league was able to get in a full slate of games.
In travel team action, the Elite Soccer Camps U-14 girls faced Wallingford for the third time this season, this time in league play. Having already beaten their opponents twice, the Westies knew it would be a tough task. The field was slick, but West Haven played well, combining and moving the ball up the field. Julia Tsakonas scored the lone goal to give West Haven the 1-0 win after the goalkeeper muffed a clearance. With the ball at her feet, Tsakonas took a touch and buried the ball into the back of the net. Camryn and Brooke Flaherty played great throughout the game, as did Cynthia Burns, Isabelle Nagle and Josephina Lakaj.
The Rock House School of Music U-11 boys hosted undefeated Madison Sunday afternoon, and lost a thrilling 5-4 game. Madison took a 2-0 lead in the first half on the muddy field before the Westies got back in the game. Sean Studley flicked a throw-in to the far post where Ryan Malone jammed it in to cut the Madison lead in half. Madison made it 3-1 before halftime despite multiple saves by Rafi Treat. Early in the second half, Malone took a pass from Studley on the left wing, cut in and fire the ball off the near post and in to make it 3-2. The Westies continued to apply pressure and equalized when Nate Charron leapt in the air and redirected Jovan Lakaj’s corner kick past a diving keeper.
Madison regained the lead at 4-3, but the Westies kept at it. Studley took a ball out of the air and found Malone streaking down the left side. Malone one touched a pass into Lakaj’s path for a breakaway, and he calmly finished to tie the score at 4-4. Maicon Miguel made several saves in the second half for West Haven before Madison again score. One last rally by West Haven came up short in the end.
The Elite Soccer Camps U-12 Lightning hosted Meriden Saturday afternoon, but they came up short, losing 2-0. The Lightning had the better play, but the field conditions hurt them, as they saw several attacking opportunities stymied by puddles on the field. Alexandria Nunes and Ciara Harp played well at forward, supported in the midfield by Taylor Guarino and Aylin Soto. Ashlynn Trenchard was aggressive on the flank, winning the ball and making some key passes to start Lightning counter-attacks. Kayla Burt was solid in goal. Despite the loss, the Lightning finished runner-ups in a tough division this fall.
The Cappetta’s Italian Imports U-12 Thunder finished their season up on Saturday as well, hosting North Haven. The Thunder played hard, but field conditions hurt them as well, and even though they had a few good passing sequences, they could not capitalize at the end and found themselves down 2-0 at the half. The girls worked hard to try to get back into the game, but could not find the back of the net.
The West Shore Family Dental U-12 boys had their final game of the season playing league rival Wallingford on Saturday. The boys played with determination in executing the game plan. Playing out of the back field and taking chances going over the top of the defense. Unfortunately it was not enough as Walling went on to win, 3-2. Angel Magana scored both goals for the Westies. Also playing well for the Blue Devils was their core defenders Malik Ouro Adei, Bobby Severino, Tom Williams, and Brian Cruz. Another successful season in the books for 2007’s both with ups and downs. This team continues to be a force to be reckoned with.
In league action, the Baybrook Remodelers Evergreen played Oyster River Energy Soccer Rockers Saturday morning, losing 3-0. Bianca Davila played well defensively, as she developed throughout the season. Imani McDuffe-Edwards started this season as a brand new player, but showed her ever improving skills as she played with confidence this past weekend. For the Soccer Rockers, Yamilette, Magaly and Lilianay Romero were great on the field.
The Cornell-Scott Hill Health Center Green Angels lost a close 5-4 game to Dillman & Dillman Adjusters, LLC. Harper Golde played an awesome game, as Karine Davila played aggressively by advancing the ball forward to help create opportunities for her team to score.
The Shoreline Wellness Center Red Devils U-10 girls played a very good game against Bohemian Body Art Navy, ultimately losing, 4-0. Vrinda Patel and Emilia Yavagnilio played strong on the field and showed great hustle. T
he Elite Soccer Camps Green Beans played their final game of the season Saturday morning against Lacistrong, in what has been termed the “Mud Bowl.” The Green Beans came out on top, 8-3. Ryan Abekah led the Green Beans in scoring, joined by Ben Trenchard, who picked up a brace and showed some good dribbling, and Matteo D’Elia, Seth Empric and Luca Decresenzo all scored. Jax Guarino played a great game, and Travis Sanders, Brianna Valtierra and Layla Nesmith all showed a lot of hustle.
The Cappetta’s Italion Imports Killer Bees played their last game of the season on a muddy Saturday, falling, 4-2, to Mulkerin School of Irish Dancing.
Olivia Petrie, Luciana Cappetta, and Annabelle Fiorillo played well on both sides of the ball. Giada Jimenez, Kai Ruotolo, and Jacelyn Kenny passed the ball extremely well. Celeste Dinallo was named player of the game and most improved player for the season showing great determination.
The Lions Club of West Haven Red Lions played Porto Funeral Homes, winning 4-1. Omar Elnatour displayed excellent footwork, and Mateo Cuevas and Jimmy Clark also played well overall for the Red Lions. Dillman & Dillman Adjusters, LLC, defeated CT Pest Elimination, 8-7. Ava Ciccarelli, Michael Natale and Malakai Inahuazo all played well in the win.
he Gunning Law Firm lost, 5-3, to Elsie Encarnacion State Farm Insurance. Marco Antonucci, Nour El Mouki and Jackson Gabriele showed great hustle and defense, working hard to gain possession of the ball. Anthony Villeda attacked the ball and successfully ran it down the field to score.
The Milano & Wanat Golden Dragons played Seacrest Retirement Center, taking the 8-7 win thanks to Jaden Abekah, Mason Panton and Joel Forbes-Wolfe. All of the players did great this season for the Golden Dragons.
In the final games of the weekend, Eli’s Orange and Stars Ice Cream played to a 4-4 tie, and Stowe’s Seafood defeated Watson Foods Company, LLC, 5-4. Top Hat Dance Academy lost a close game to West Haven Italian American Civic Association, 3-2, and York Business Center and WH Professional Fire Fighters- IAFF 1198 played a game for the ages in the mud and rain, finishing in a 5-5 tie.
The West Haven Seahawks sent three teams to the Southern Connecticut Pop Warner conference football championships this past weekend with no teams moving forward.
The Mighty Mite team lost to a very talented Waterbury Patriot team, 20-7. Azriel Pizarro scored the Seahawk touchdown and TJ Stevenson and Tristan Crawford ran the ball well. Yusef Turner, Ka’lel Camacho, Mason Wright and Darryl Small played well on defense. The Seahawk mighty Mites finish the season as the conference runner-up.
The Junior Peewee Seahawk team finished the season 8-2 with a loss to the Stratford Redskins by a score of 26-6. Aedan Coe, Ethan Holy and Bryan Tillman led the offensive effort and Coe scored the lone Seahawk touchdown. Kiandre Lyman, Joey Copela and Anthony Dorsi played good defense. The Stratford Redskins will advance to the regional playoffs.
The Peewee team finished the season as conference runner-up with a loss to the West Elmwood Intruders 20-0.
The Peewee Cheerleading squad placed first in both show competition and sideline cheer at the New England Regional Pop Warner Cheerleading Competition.
The Junior Varsity Squad faced very tough competition and placed second in region (Derby) in both show competition and sideline cheerleading. Both teams have earned a spot at the National Pop Warner Cheerleading Competition at Walt Disney’s Wide World of Sports in December.
For more information, please visit www.westhavenseahawk.com.
While the regular season continues for the West Haven football team, the campaigns for both the volleyball and girls soccer teams have ended in the postseason with both teams falling on the road to Amity.
The football team is back in the win column. After dropping a pair of contests, West Haven is once again above the .500 mark with a 28-0 victory over Hillhouse at Ken Strong Stadium Saturday evening.
The victory saw West Haven move its record to 4-3 in a contest played a day after its originally scheduled date due to inclement weather. West Haven’s defense and special team were the key as the Westies took advantage of a pair of botched special teams plays by the Academics, while also stopping Hillhouse deep in West Haven territory on several occasions.
West Haven set the tone from the start defensively as it stalled a Hillhouse drive deep in West Haven territory with an interception.
West Haven promptly marched 96 yards, using an effective ground game, before Justin Medina’s 3-yard score with 36 seconds left in the opening quarter. Tylen Jennette ran in the conversion to give West Haven an 8-0 lead.
West Haven again capitalized on another Hillhouse mistake early in the second quarter. After a botched snap on a Hillhouse punt, West Haven needed a short field for a 14-0 lead.
Needing to move just 21 yards, the drive was capped when Juan Gutierrez ran in from six yards out 1:40 into the second quarter.
Special teams again allowed the Westies to take control of the ball later in the quarter as the Academics had trouble with another punt snap.
Taking over at the 34-yard line, West Haven used a short field and increased its lead to 20-0 when Jordan Berrios scored from one yard out with 3:11 left in the second quarter. The conversion failed, keeping West Haven’s lead at 20-0.
As they did in the first half, the Academics again looked to get the initial points of the second half.
As was the case in the first half, the West Haven defense came up big. A goal line stand with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter preserved the shutout and just about sealed the victory.
The Westies put the game away less than five minutes into the fourth quarter. Berrios scored on his second one-yard run of the game and Jaden Grant scored on the 2-point conversion for a 28-0 lead with 7:49 left in the game.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, West Haven just needed to finish off the shutout. The Westies did just that when Demerick Blackford’s interception at the West Haven 1-yard line with 1:15 left sealed both the game and the shutout.
The season has come to a close for the West Haven girls volleyball team. Traveling to play No. 10 Amity, the 23rd-seeded Westies could not come up with the big plays.
That, coupled with the fact the Westies were playing an Amity team which blew a two-game lead before losing to Cheshire in the Southern Connecticut Conference finals, was not a good mix.
When all was said and done, the Westies fell 3-0 (25-10, 25-14, 25-17) in the Class LL first round at Amity High Monday evening. With the loss, West Haven concludes its season at 9-13.
“It was another tough loss to a tough Amity team,” West Haven coach Kate Coldren said. “I wish them luck in the rest of the tournament. I’m proud of my girls and all they accomplished this season. We met and exceeded several of the goals we set at the beginning of the season and I wish my seniors nothing but the best. They are truly strong and amazing young women and they have set the bar very high for the underclassmen coming up.”
The Spartans wasted no time setting the tone of the match as they rolled to an easy first game win, before pulling away in each of the next two games to sweep the Westies.
“Nancy (Tapia) and Bria (Stanley) both played well at the net,” Coldren said. “They were able to find open space on the court and made very smart decisions, which is tough to do against Amity. CC (Celina Condon) played very well on both defense and serve receive and Noelle (Noble) kept us in a lot of plays with her passing tonight.”
Jennifer Ortiz had five assists and three digs, Nancy Tapia added six kills and four digs, Celina Condon chipped in six digs, Giliana Santaniello had six assists and two digs, and Bria Stanley added six kills.
With just about two weeks to prepare for the start of the postseason, the West Haven girls soccer team had to like its chances. One thing the Westies may not have expected was the rainy weather and slick turf they would play through.
Under wet conditions, No. 24 West Haven fell in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament 3-1 against No. 9 Amity at Amity High Monday afternoon. With the loss, West Haven concludes its season at 6-7-4.
“It is bittersweet,” West Haven coach Pete Trenchard said. “Our goal was to make the (state) tournament. We had a tough draw against a very good Amity team. They have some very good players. We had some opportunities, but we were not able to capitalize.”
The Spartans took an early lead and took a 3-0 advantage before the Westies got on the scoreboard. West Haven’s goal from Keegan Riccio off an assist from Kelsey Gilmore, was as close as West Haven would get despite putting on more pressure in the second half.
Mackenzie Gardner made eight saves in the loss for West Haven.
“In the second half, we had some pressure, but we just could not find the back of the net,” Trenchard said.
For all of you West Haven sporting news all season long, including game articles, photos, videos and more, visit www.westieblue.com.
The West Haven football team hosted the Hillhouse Academics on Saturday night at Ken Strong Stadium. The Academics’ opening drive was stopped at the West Haven four-yard line when Jordan Berrios intercepted a pass with 6:55 left in the first quarter. The Blue Devils proceeded to make a 96-yard drive down the field with an effective running game and capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Justin Medina and a two-point conversion by Tylen Jennette to give the Westies an 8-0 lead with 36 seconds left in the first quarter.
On the Academics’ next possession, the West Haven defense forced Hillhouse to punt and took advantage of a snap that sailed over the punter’s head and gave the Westies the ball on the Hillhouse 21-yard line. The Blue Devils increased the lead to 14-0 when Juan Gutierrez ran the ball in from six yards out with 10:20 left in the half.
On the next Hillhouse possession, the Westies were the beneficiaries of another mishandled snap on a punt to give them the ball on the Academics’ 34-yard line with just under seven minutes left in the half. Jordan Berrios finished the drive with a 1-yard TD run with 3:11 left in the half and West Haven took a 20-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Westies appeared to be headed into the end zone again when they drove down the field to open the second half but were stopped at the goal line on fourth down with 5:10 left in the third quarter. West Haven was able to extend their lead to 28-0 with 7:49 left in the game on a Jordan Berrios 1-yard touchdown run and a Jaden Grant two-point conversion.
The Academics looked like they were going to finally get on the board as time ran down but, the West Haven defense came up big again when Demerick Blackford leapt in the air and pulled down an interception at the Westies’ one-yard line with 1:15 left in the game to seal the 28-0 victory.
This week, the Blue Devils travel to Middletown to take on the Xavier Falcons on Friday at 7.
The CIAC playoffs got under way this week when the girls soccer team traveled to Woodbridge to play the Amity Spartans on Monday. Later the same day, the girls’ volleyball team also played in the opening round of the playoffs against the Spartans. The boys’ soccer team headed to West Hartford on Tuesday afternoon to face the two-seeded Warriors.
I looked up to them all, and most of them are gone now.
There were two of my Sunday School teachers: Mr. Muirhead, who had served in World War II and when asked about it, told a group of seven-year-olds, “Well, they pushed us, and we pushed them back.” And Fred Howard, who served in the same conflict in the Army Air Corps, and recalled being on a bombing mission with flak bursting everywhere around his plane; and when he was sure he was going to die any moment, he looked out the window and swore he saw the figure of Jesus, floating on a cloud, protecting them.
And there was Bill, veteran of World War I who sat out in front of Stop & Shop in Orange, wearing a blazer, a tie and grey trousers, and selling forget-me-nots. He coughed a lot, and told me that “We were in the trenches when the Germans threw the gas at us. And I didn’t have a gas mask.” And so it was that Bill gave up his health while serving under his Country’s flag.
And I recall my Scoutmaster Conroy Taylor, who was fighting the Japanese on board a ship that was hit by a bomb while he was manning an anti-aircraft gun. He was blown from his gun position, and fell ten feet onto the steel deck, landing face-first and losing several teeth.
My Grandpa Shine never spoke of the horrors he had seen while flying a Spad in World War I; neither would his son–my father–until his final years. Our family always knew that dad had fought with the hope that his children would never have to fight. Dad’s reminders of his time in World War II were a Bronze Star and a pair of frostbitten feet, which were marked for life.
Cousin John Shine was a Huey pilot over Vietnam, and modestly told the story of evacuating the wounded under heavy fire in a grossly overloaded craft, and escaping the “hot” landing zone at treetop level, as they were hit repeatedly by small arms fire. That episode earned him one of two Distinguished Flying Crosses. And there was Uncle Ed, who was a medic in Korea and earned a Silver Star, but never spoke of the reason to his family.
Since the days of my youth, most of these men have passed away; but meanwhile there have been many others, some much younger than me, who have served this nation selflessly. Among them, I count one of my Eagle Scouts, an infantry sergeant named Sean, Veteran of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. For I watched him grow up, and today, he is one more of the men I look up to. They’re all a special breed, you know.
“Lest We Forget:” On Nov. 11, we pause to remember all those veterans, past and present, who believed in something bigger than themselves, and chose to fight for the Freedoms that we cherish and abuse. Our thanks be unto them.
By Joseph Weber
Special to the Voice
This is the third installment from the Rohna Remembrance Committee of West Haven. It was first reported that 75 years ago PFC’s Pacifico Migliore, John Cox and Pasquale Logiodice had lost their lives in a ship sinking on Nov. 26, 1943, in the Mediterranean Sea as a result of a direct hit by a new enemy munition. They were, among 1100 men lost, and a veil of secrecy shielded the details of the tragedy for 50 years.
The second installment told of the response to the hope for some memorial activities for these three “West Haven Buddies” and other victims and the 900 survivors. UNH, the West Haven Veterans Museum, and Mark Consorte and his social studies team at WHHS have all joined our efforts. We also thank Bill Riccio of the West Haven Voice, and Mark Zaretsky of the Connecticut Magazine, and Gabor Kantzner of New Haven Veterans Center.
We began this message with an appeal to West Haven and beyond for “West Haven Memories, “from the WWII days. If you have any memories of the soldiers’ families, let us hear them (Ward Heitmann House Museum P.O. Box 573). Cox lived at 746 Campbell Ave., Migliore at 62 Terrace Ave. and the Logiodice family had a small farm on Orange Avenue. We would appreciate memorabilia of the period for the Vets Museum exhibit in November.
Here, we pick up the story. The 853rd Aviation engineer Battalion (AVN) sailed from Virginia, after completing their training, in a large protected east-bound convey toward an unknown destination zig-zagging all the way to avoid submarines, Days later the troops were elated to spot land (eastern tip of hilly North Africa). After entering the Straits of Gibraltar, they headed for land at Oran, Algeria. Not a good 10-day stop: mud, freezing nights, bad food.
On Nov. 23, 1943, they boarded an old rusted ship named the HMT Rohna. The ship had been built in 1926 and was used constantly in passenger and freight travel in the UK-India travel routes. The British leased it in 1940 for the war effort. It had three original decks with cabins and when reconfigured with more decks, it could hold troops and military cargo. The ship was large: 461 feet long with a beam of 61 feet. In redesign many partitions were erected with wooden posts and wooden partitions. This would prove disastrous later.
It was crewed by 200 Indian seamen and had 12 gunners. As were all the ships, guns were mounted aboard. On that fateful boarding day, the Rohna departed Oran and formed up with another convoy. They headed due east toward the Suez Canal and to eventual duty in India building needed airfields. This must have excited them, working for the war effort at last. Nov. 25, Thanksgiving: canned chicken and spoiled bread. Nov. 26, early “abandon ship drill.”
At about 16:30, the convoy was attacked by approximately 20 German bombers; allied gunners opened fire (there were five armed escorts); soon the air was filled with allied fighters in what was called a confused melee. The Germans lost several bombers. Part of the reason was that the slower moving bombers had to go in a direct line to line up targets.
Observers noticed an odd small vehicle mounted under the bombers; they were airplane-like, with wings, rudders and a rear, rocket engine. In the action many soldiers were below decks, even playing cards. The observers noticed that the weapon could glide, do a circular pattern and alter direction. In time Darkness descended and a night of terror was also approaching.
At 17:25, a missile was launched at the Rohna, it dropped and accelerated and hit just above the waterline: a deadly strike! Piercing the outer plate, it went through the engine room and continued through the other outer plate and exploded with shattering force. Many bodies were carried out with the missile (men of the 853rd Battalion). A hole was left that you could drive trucks through. Utter destruction: power was lost; lights went out and seawater began flooding the ship. Approximately 2000 men were aboard: many without veteran experience. Pandemonium!
Fuel coated the sea; the swells increased to near 15 feet; the water was cold; temperatures were dropping; lifeboats were held in place by rust and paint; fire began to rage in the shattered wood stacks; with the explosion, large numbers were killed by weapon-like boards; life-belts were deflated; debris kept soldiers from finding exits in the dark: that was doom for many, caught in a fiery conflagration; some troops wore packs and helmets and in jumping to safety, sank immediately, for eternity.
Troops going into the water some other way found they were in a scene from hell, a watery hell. The debris was everywhere; they swallowed oil and water; non-swimmers thrashed and died; some heavy life rafts were cut loose, and in falling, killed people in the sea; there were countless cases of people holding onto something and reaching out to hold a swimmer; or conversely, pushing someone away in the panic. As the convoy passed eastward and disappeared, there was a sound-one of humankinds’ saddest. It was a terrified cry from all directions. It was the cry for “Mother.”
Death was everywhere; young men succumbing in Hanibal’s sea. But it wasn’t all horror. Authors write of the fact that in war, Americans are resourceful, adaptable (the land that produced the Wright Brothers, Edison, George Washington Carver).
In the maelstrom of nightmare there were 5 ships doing rescues. The most successful was a relatively small minesweeper, the USS Pioneer. Crewmen were jumping into the sea to save others. One young sailor, Harold Jones, a red-head, had a rope tied to his waist. T
aking to the water, he personally saved several hundred sailors. The pioneer saved 600; in all 900 were saved. Over time, the survivors returned to duty with their outfits. Our three “West Haven Buddies” were not to be among them. The war raged on and ended successfully because of the overwhelming Allied armies and the great industrial might of our country (Rosie the Riveter” and all).
Unfortunately, the bravery displayed that evening could not be recognized because of the secrecy. Years later, Charles Osgood, the newsman said, “It was not that we didn’t remember, it was that we never knew.”
A final word: our hearts command us to “remember.” Please join with us and spread the word about Pasquale, John and Pacifico and their fellow soldiers.
The Historical Society’s annual Holiday Fair will take place on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Poli House, 686 Savin Ave., opposite the Green. Admission is free and the fair will run from 10-4. The traditional Giving Tree will be part of the fair along with many vendors selling traditional crafts, jewelry, books, baked goods, novelties, and other holiday gifts. For information about the event call the Society at (203) 932-0088.
Center plans trips
Join the West Haven Senior Center for the following scheduled trip: All trips leave from Savin Rock Conference Center.
MGM Springfield Casino Tuesday, Jan. 15, cost is $25 per person. Bus leaves Savin Rock Conference Center at 8:30 a.m. Trip includes $10 free slot play. Payment is due by Jan. 4. Registration information for rewards card to be completed at time of registration.
Flyers with details for this trip are available at the office West Haven Senior Center 201 Noble St., or call (203) 937-3507 for more information.
Used Book Sale
The First Congregational Church, 464 Campbell Ave., will host its monthly Used Book Sale, Clothes Closet, White Elephant and SERRV Shop on Saturday, Nov. 10, between the hours of 9 and 2.
As usual there will be a large selection of used books of all kinds, including many children’s books, items made from refugees around the world at reduced prices, gently used clothing for the whole family and household items, also reduced. Come early to shop at all these venues. (203) 933-6291.
First Lutheran Church, 52 George St, will hold its annual Harvest Fair on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 9-2. There will be vendors, baked goods, white elephant, raffles and refreshments.
Bradley Point GC
The Bradley Point Garden Club of West Haven will hold its monthly luncheon followed by a presentation on beekeeping at noon on Nov. 13 in the lower level of West Haven City Hall, 355 Main St. New members are always welcome. Call Marie at (203) 878-8428.
The annual Christmas Fest on the Green is scheduled for Saturday, Dec 1, from 9-2:30. The festival will have craft and candy vendors, delicious lunch, bake sale, kids’ crafts and trinket tree, our SERRV shop with gifts from around the world, as well as our book sale and White Elephant sale. Several trees, wreaths, and other items are being raffled off. Santa will be visiting and taking photos. Also included: a collection of food for WHEAT and toys for Second Chance Toys, an organization that partners toy drives with local organizations in need of toys. Second Chance Toys requests plastic toys that are clean and in good condition that have no small pieces (anything that will fit through a toilet paper tube). Contact First Congregational Church at (203)-933-6291 for more information.
The Christmas Festival, is looking for vendors for Saturday, Dec. 1, from 9-2:30. Handmade creations preferred. The fee is only $30 for an 8’ table, with $5 going toward our restoration fund to help repair our steeple and a portion of our sanctuary ceiling which has fallen. The festival includes crafters, light breakfast fare, delicious luncheon, book sale, SERRV Shop, Pics with Santa, and more. Contact the church at (203) 933-6291, for an application.
‘Back to Oldies’
“Back to the Oldies” makes a return to Cielo,85 Chase Lane on Saturday Nov 10 from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Charles Rosenay of Liverpool Productions is set to spin the discs while Carla Gemma Caccavale performs tickets are $20 per person and include Door Prizes,coffee and dessert. The raffle benefits MDA. For tickets call (203) 795-5473 or (203) 468-2528.
WH Garden Club
The West Haven Garden Club will hold its meeting on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the St. Louis Church meeting room, Bull Hill Road at 11:30 a.m. A luncheon will then follow and the program will be speaker Gary Zinsmeyer discussing and making Holiday Florals. Newcomers are welcome to join us. For further information call (203) 937-1674.
The West Haven Irish-American Club is hosting its annual fundraiser for the scholarship fund at Applebee’s, Orange. The pancake breakfast is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10, from 8-9:45 a.m. Tickets are $5 for a full breakfast, including juice and coffee. Call Charlie at (203) 934-9740 for information.
Senior Center trip
The West Haven Senior Center is offering the following trip: Foxwoods Casino Tuesday, Nov. 27, to see “Legends Concert”: Tickets cost is $25 per person for casino only or casino and Legends show, $52. Bus leaves Savin Rock Conference Center at 8:15 a.m. “Legends” features Elvis, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, George Michael and The Blues Brothers, a 90 minute fantastic show! Trip includes a bonus for everyone on the bus, a free buffet meal or $10 Food Voucher and $10 slot play. Payment due by Nov. 2.
Flyers with details for this trip are available at the office West Haven Senior Center 201 Noble St. or call (203) 937-3507 for more information.