CHIEF YEOMAN ANTHONY FRANK AQUINO, U.S. NAVY

May 5, 1908 (Norwalk, CT) – March 2, 1942; 33 years old
Married to Edith Sherburne Aquino on April 15, 1929 in New London CT
Last local address: 41 Plymouth Avenue, Norwalk
Enlisted in 1923
Service number: 2067759
USS PILLSBURY (DD-227)
MIA (at sea)

Awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

The first person from Norwalk Killed In Action during World War II.

One of the namesakes of Mulvoy – Tarlov – Aquino VFW Post 603 in Norwalk.


In night surface action on March 2, 1942, the USS Pillsbury was overtaken by two Japanese cruisers of Cruiser Division 4. She was engaged by Takao and Atago, and at 2102 (9:02 p.m.) sank with the loss of all hands, 200 miles east of Christmas Island, South Pacific.


Muster Roll for USS Pillsbury 9/30/1941

From navsource.org, USS Pillsbury

From The Norwalk Hour November 12, 1941

Subject: ANTHONY F. AQUINO, CHIEF YEOMAN
September 24, 1941
Editor of The Norwalk Hour:

    I think the following will be of great interest to the readers of The Norwalk Hour, especially to friends of the subject man.
    I have been working for a man who has been my boss for approximately two years and he is a native of Norwalk. From all his remarks and reminiscings, I am led to believe that it was a pretty good town to live in and hence this letter. His name is Anthony F. Aquino, the son of one Charles Aquino who used to be the one and only in “junk dealers” from what he says. At any rate he is now a Chief Yeoman (the heist enlisted grade he can attain in the Navy) and is due to retire in two years as he will have served continuously in the Navy a period of 20 years in 1943. His pension at the expiration of 20 years will be $103.75 per month and I imagine that is what he has been shooting at. Incidentally, he will only be 35 years of age upon retirement after 20 years – actual retirement from the Navy doesn’t take effect until he has served 30 years – 20 years active and 10 years in the Fleet Reserve or 30 years of actual active service.
    Lots of nights we are alone at sea and on some sort of patrol or underway from place to another out here in on the Asiatic Station and during these times he has opened up and related some of his experiences while a kid in Norwalk. I think he mentioned an officer on the police force named Jerry Dorney who he thought a lot of, but gave a lot of trouble to. You can tell this officer that if he was betting that Tony would get kicked out of the Navy right after he enlisted in 1923, that he’d better retract any statements he may have made. Tony must’ve figured that the Navy was too big to buck so he just settled down and started being a good boy from then on.
    I’m sure a lot of his friends in Norwalk would be pleased to hear that he is now on the Asiatic Station on the USS Pillsbury and having a wonderful time. A line or two from any one of them would be a great deal of good to a man who is so far away from home and amongst strange people.
   If you can find some little corner in your newspaper for as much of this letter – or all – as you think would be of interest to some of your readers, I think it would be nice. In the event you do would you please send me a copy of the edition it is printed in.

    Thank you very much for your kind indulgence, I am

                    Respectfully,
          RALPH “SPEED” KLEIN,
                         Yeo. 3c, US Navy
                USS Pillsbury (227)
          Care of PM San Francisco, California
            P.S. I’m here to state that this is the best Navy Ole Uncle Sam has got.

WEBMASTER NOTE: Officer Jerry Dorney referenced in the above article went on to serve as Chief of Police in Norwalk starting June 15, 1933. Both CYO Aquino and Y3C Klein gave their lives to this country just six months after this editorial was printed when the USS Pillsbury was sunk.


From The Norwalk Hour March 23, 1942

U.S. NAVY LISTS NORWALK MAN AS “MISSING”
Chief Yeoman Anthony F. Aquino On Ship Lost In Action; Went To Sea at 13

Carmine Aquino of 41 Plymouth Avenue does not know today whether his boy, Anthony (Tony) has gone down with his U.S. Navy ship in the Pacific but he fears the worst. Before the war began he had hoped that Tony would come home to stay for awhile because in April Tony would have completed 20 years in the United States Navy and would be eligible for a pension. Now he can’t tell just what to expect. He has the following message from the Navy Department:

March 19, 1942
Washington, D.C
.

Carmine Aquino,
41 Plymouth Avenue,
Norwalk, Conn.
The Navy Department regrets to inform you that the ship to which your son Anthony Frank Aquino, chief yeoman, U.S. Navy was attached, has been lost in action. Information received indicates that there may be some survivors but no positive information regarding your son has been received. The department appreciates your great anxiety and will furnish you further information promptly when received. To prevent possible aid to our enemies please do not divulge the name of his ship or station.
Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs,
Chief of Bureau of Navigation

Back in 1922, Tony was a student in Center Junior High School. He had a strong desire to join the United States Navy. He wanted to go to sea and visit far off places while he did his bit for Uncle Sam. But then Tony was only 13. His next birthday would be in May. In April, a month before his 14th birthday, the desire to go to sea became so strong that he left school, went to New London, said he was 17 (he was a big boy) and was accepted as a sailorman. He was off on his big adventure. He wrote home and told the folks. He made his way pretty well while he was visiting all over the world and his last promotion was to rank of Chief Yeoman (Chief Petty Officer). He never had any complaint. He loved the Navy and when he was home on leave about a year and a half ago he said that he didn’t think he’d quit for a pension because he would miss the sea and the work too much. His folk didn’t worry much about him, except when he was sent to the submarine service. His mother, since dead, didn’t like that. But Tony had no trouble in the six years he was submarining. Tony has three brothers. The oldest brother, Vincent, was formerly with the Department of Justice in Washington and in other parts of the country. He received his appointment through former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Brien McMahon and worked as an accountant. Tony is the next son in age. Then comes Charles, now a sergeant in Army recruiting in Hartford, and Albert, who was well known as a baseball player with the Norwalk High and who is now attending an art school in Brooklyn. Tony’s father has been in the junk business here for many years, having come to this country about 40 years ago. He said today: “There’s nothing I can say. I still hope of course but that telegram doesn’t leave me much. Tony was a fine boy. He loved Uncle Sam’s Navy. He would have been in the Navy 20 years next month and was entitled to a pension but with the war coming and his country in danger I really felt he wouldn’t come home until his job was done.”


From The Norwalk Hour August 7, 1951

The Mulvoy-Tarlov-Aquino Post 603, Veterans of Foreign Wars, was formed in Norwalk in 1921 shortly after World War I. For many years the group met at 60 Wall Street. It wasn’t until 1947 that the VFW bought a site for its home at the corner of High Street and North Avenue. The property was purchased from Bennet M. Levin of Greenwich by the post. The local post received some money from the residents of West Norwalk for the building fund when the post withdrew its application for a waiver of zoning regulations in order to erect a stadium at the corner of Richards and Connecticut Avenues, and which would have featured midget car races. Until after World War II, the post was known as the Mulvoy-Tarlov Post but authorization was received from national headquarters of the VFW to add the name Aquino in honor of CPO Anthony F. Aquino who was lost while serving aboard the USS Pillsbury in 1942. Aquino was believed to be the first Norwalker to lose his life in foreign service in World War II. The name was changed to its present one in 1947.


Memorialized at the Walls of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery, Taguig City, Philippines

Published by jeffd1121

USAF retiree. Veteran advocate. Committed to telling the stories of those who died while in the service of the country during wartime.

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