Ed. Note: The following is a recounting of a trip made by Joseph Weber and John Dolan regarding their recent research on the HMT Rohna’s sinking in 1943, and the loss of three West Haven residents: Pasquale Longiodice, John T. Cox, and Pacifico Migliore.
By Joseph Weber
Special to the Voice
On a recent weekend, West Haven was honored, in of all places, Norfolk/ Virginia Beach, VA, by a very special national organization.
John Dolan and Joe Weber were invited to address the 2019 reunion gathering of the HMT Rohna Survivors Memorial Association (RSMA).
The officers, including, author Mike Walsh and videographer Jack Ballo, had come to West Haven to help us in our Dec. 2, 2018 presentation at the West Haven Veterans Museum. These folks so appreciated our effort and pitched in like troupers.
The Norfolk reunion was organized and delightful; the attendees were a full range of ages; everybody took part and made it worth it.
In the fun of friends and relatives coming distances and gathering, there was a serious purpose to all the activities. All the attendees whether GGD (great-granddaughter), or SNH (son-in law), or other, were aware that at an earlier time in the family’s life a young man was lost forever – or maybe miraculously saved – and mom and dad were left without an explanation (in the case of a loss); and these parents eventually died with their “unknowingness” – no Pacifico, no John T., no Pasquale, no answer.
During the reunion we were shepherded expertly by member officers Janice Pumelia and Deb Sanchez. As many readers know there is probably no other place in the world like Norfolk, where the Naval roadways meet at the rivers, the bays, and the Atlantic Ocean. The soils are drenched with history: just think Yorktown, pirates, Chincoteague, plantations, Langley Field, rebel calvary, Jamestown, indigenous peoples, privateers, early flight, top guns, peninsula campaign – the list is endless.
Momentous things occurred there as a commonplace.
How many millions of service members said a word-less goodbye to home as they left these shores.
The days at Norfolk were busy with meetings and planning. The members are from all parts of the U.S. and organization is essential.
One day though we were all together touring the port city and took in the McArthur Museum and the naval base. There we parked in the shadow of the mammoth carrier USS Harry S. Truman (it is good that she is ours).
After lunch we went to a historic drive-in, Dourmar’s (where our pictures were taken) the “Home of the first ice cream cone maker gadget.”
At a Saturday night banquet, John Dolan and I spoke about our Three West Haven Buddies: Pasquale Logiodice, John T. Cox, and Pacifico Migliore, who were lost in the HMT Rohna sinking on Nov. 26, 1943. The attendees were very appreciative.
Sunday morning, departure time, rolled around and we got a warm surprise.
In a large room John and I started our good-byes to a small number of people; soon everybody in the room stood and warmly applauded us. It was spontaneous and unexpected and downright nice. It stopped us in our tracks.
We realized that the emotions were for the people and organizations back in West Haven that had helped us honor the Logiodice, Cox, and Migliore families of old West Haven.
Finally, in words of old, young Grandpa John Dolan was a “boon companion” on the delightful Route 13 Tidewater “honor” journey.