West Haveners honor 1,138 — including 3 local men — who died 75 years ago on the HMT Rohna
About 80 people gathered in the West Haven Veterans Museum & Learning Center Sunday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Germans’ sinking of the HMT Rohna, claiming the lives of 1,138 people, including 1,115 U.S. servicemen.
In particular, local residents joined by members of the national Rohna Survivors Memorial Association paid tribute to three young West Haven men who grew up together, entered the Army together and died together on the Rohna on Nov. 26, 1943.
The names of the late Pfc. John T. Cox, Pfc. Pasquale J. Logiodice and Pfc. Pacifico Migliore were enshrined on the museum’s Wall of Honor.
At the time it took place, the loss of the Rohna — one of the first known uses of what at the time was the Nazis’ new secret weapon, radio-guided glide bombs — represented the greatest single at-sea loss of life in U.S. history.
In overall loss of life in World War II, it was second only to the 1,177 sailors lost on the USS Arizona, who were among the 2,403 U.S. citizens killed in the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
The sinking of the Rohna, a 461-foot British transport ship off the coast of Algeria, was quickly classified by both the British and U.S. governments for many years
Despite the huge loss of life, for years, many relatives of those lost on the Rhona weren’t even told how they died — and generations of kids grew up knowing only that their father or uncle or other relative “was lost in the war.”
Organizers, city officials, members of the Rohna Survivors Memorial Association and local veterans were joined by the West Haven Police Department Honor Guard, author Catherine Ladnier of Greenwich, who has written a play about the Rohna based on letters that her survivor uncle sent to her aunt.
They also were joined by four West Haven High School students — Dan Gallipoli, Austin Greenwood, Wilson Valois and Lauren Panza — who played the parts of the three young men, plus a narrator, and followed their travels from enlisting in New Haven to going up to Fort Devens, Mass., to training in Tennessee and Alabama, then on to Virginia and overseas to North Africa.