July 26, 1919 (Norwalk, CT) – June 30, 1944; 24 years old
Last local address: 2 Rockridge Drive, South Norwalk
Service number: O-2044436
Unit: 8th Army Air Force, 466th Bomber Group, 785th Bomber Squadron
Born to Fred (1885-1954) and Rita Giorchino (1890-1950). Two sisters, Margaret Giorchino Corbin (1913-1979) and Mary Giorchino Bennett (1925-?).
He had previously been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal (three times).
In 1942 he joined the Royal Air Force as a “sergeant pilot” because he was unable to pass the physical examination.
Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, as observing Co-pilot on B-24 Liberator serial number 41-23682.
From The Norwalk Hour November 13, 1942
Mesa, Ariz — Edward B. Giorchino, 23, of South Norwalk, Connecticut, was one of three Americans, probably the last of their countrymen to earn Royal Air Force wings in this war, who became sergeant pilots today at Falcon Field and left with their British classmates for service in England. Giorchino left Dartmouth College for U.S. service, but failed to pass the physical examination, so he joined the RAF. Since December 7, American enlistments in the RAF have been discouraged.
From The Norwalk Hour December 29, 1943
Lieutenant Edward B. Giorchino, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Giorchino of Rock Ridge, in addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, has also received the Air Medal and one Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal according to a story written by Sergeant Gilbert F. Armitage of Providence, RI, and released by the Army. The story tells of the many bombing flights Lieutenant Giorchino participated in while member of the crew of the “Blasted Event,” an Eighth AAF Liberator. Most interesting, as well as the most dangerous of these flights was the bombing of the Ploesti oil fields. About this flight the story says in part:
“Before the group had left England to make this trip to the desert the Liberators had been put through the paces in low-level flying for two weeks. The men could not understand this new development for theirs was an organization that specialized in high altitude precision bombing. With the memorable Rome mission over, “Blasted Event” needed overhauling. Four reconditioned engines were installed to make the plane ready. The crew now learned the reason, for the low altitude flying they had done back in England. An all-Liberator attack on the Ploesti oil fields was to be undertaken from as low a height as possible. For two weeks the Liberators practiced low-level flying over a replica of the Ploesti target area, which had been laid out on the desert sands. Interspersed with these practice flights were many briefings with American and English Army and civilian experts present to give advice and instruction. The ever-blowing sand and dust necessitated frequent engine changes and although they had a priority on material the handful of ground men found supply to be a paramount problem. At 4 A.M. on August 1, the crews were awakened by a “peep” horn. There was the usual milling about. Breakfast, with some of the men standing to eat, some unable to get enough food to satisfy their appetites. There was nothing to show this mission was different than any other, but a certain amount of eagerness in the movements of the men as they went about their duties was to be noted. The monotonous training was over, this was the real thing! While mechanics were making last minute checks on the planes there was a briefing for pilots, co-pilots, navigators and bombardiers on weather conditions along the entire route (exceptional in view of the limited information available). Emergency measure taken were many and varied. A small hole in one of the “Blasted Event’s” gasoline tanks was discovered at the last minute. Somebody grabbed a cork from the GI canteen and inserted it in the hole! The take-off at 7:30, with Colonel Addison E. Baker leading and “Blasted Event” on his left wing, was good considering the load. The sand was still affecting the functioning of the engines, causing a few of the Liberators to turn back. The planes began winging their way out over the Mediterranean and as the formation took shape, the big Liberators could be seen literally staggering under the weight they carried. After leaving Corfu behind, the formation climbed to 10,000 feet to clear the Grecian mountains and to 16,000 when cumulus clouds built up to such huge proportions the Liberators could not safely penetrate them. The men were attired in summer uniforms; a few wore unlined leather jackets. They hadn’t figured on such high altitude. The necessary use of oxygen added to their discomfort. After climbing over the mountains and clouds, the formation let down to 5,000 and crossed the famous Danube River at that height. Upon reaching Ploesti, the Liberators lowered to 150 feet and traveled thusly for 45 minutes. Natives in peasant costumes were in the fields. The run on the target was begun at a 100 foot level. At times they were only 20 feet or less above the ground. Any semblance of a formation was impossible. Flak began about three minutes before the target was reached. At the beginning of the bomb run, the lead plane’s number two engine was hit and set afire. Colonel Baker, its pilot, could have pulled out and probably saved himself by leading, but unselfishly he chose to lead his group into and over the target. A real hero if there ever was one! After Colonel Baker’s ship had dropped its bombs on the target, Captain O.K. McDonald dropped two bombs, but had to hold off with the remaining ones for fear of hitting the stricken plane. Every man on the “Blasted Event” expected every minute to collide with Baker’s ship; they were that close. The lead plane was again hit, and now the ship, from the nose back to the flight deck, was a sheet of flame. Colonel Baker then peeled off and the blazing plane plowed into the ground, burning, searing mass. It was truly a hellish sight to witness helplessly. Flak increased and rounds up to 38 caliber, some mounted on towers, aimed point blank at “Blasted Event.” The plane that had been flying on Colonel Baker’s left wing, pulled up to 200 feet and two chutes were seen to open. Then a man was seen to jump from the plane. His chute opened, and in a minute he hit the ground and ran away quickly as that. The Liberator then crashed! Another Liberator pulled up and literally shuddered in midair, its tail twisted off by strain of air pressure and flak hits! Colonel George S. Brown, who had taken over the controls with Captain Walker, meanwhile used evasive action to its fullest to avoid the ack-ack fire. “Blasted Event” dropped the rest of its bombs and wen on through. The delayed action fuses permitted the crew to observe some of the results. There was a brick wall surrounding parts of the oil refineries and the thousand pounders were seen to plow right through it. Other bombs hit one building and pierced another. A brick wall or a building was no obstacle to 1000-pound bombs traveling at an estimated speed of 230 miles per hour! From the target on out it was a running battle against anti-aircraft fire. “Blasted Event’s” top turret, nose and waist guns kept up a steady stream of fire, strafing every military installation in sight. numerous ack-ack and searchlight batteries and barracks buildings were wiped out. Veritably, it was a gunner’s field day! “Blasted Event” headed towards the foothills of the Transylvania Alps to get out of range of the big guns and to avoid being silhouetted against the sky. Concrete pill boxes were firing 30 caliber guns but after the 85s and the 30s no longer fazed the men. The Liberator climbed to 5,000 feet and joined the formation, setting a course for the Danube. Prior to crossing the river, two battered Liberators were seen to kick down their wheels and land on the fields. From the Danube it was on to Corfu again, reaching an altitude of 12,000 once more to clear the Grecian mountains. Again, the cumulus clouds increased and with the weather becoming rougher, the formation split up, every aircraft for itself. “Blasted Event” reach Corfu at 5:30 P.M. with 500 miles still to be covered, the crew now sweating out the gas supply. Though enemy fighters never appeared, they were expected. The crew remained at their positions until 6:30. When it was thought to be safe, they finally relaxed after having been at battle station for 10 hours. “Blasted Event” landed at base with an exhausted crew of airmen. The whole mission had taken 14 hours, eight over enemy land and six over water. Of the six planes in the lead wave, two were shot down, one later found its way to a repair depot, probably for salvage. Two had severed barrage balloon cables and survived. “Blasted Event”: itself returned with only two holes in tits entire body, one in the right stabilizer, one in the right front part of the fuselage. This Liberator, on four reconditioned engines, had come back with only two holes and not one of its crew injured. Call it luck, the performance of Colonel Brown and Captain Walker in handling the big Liberator, the sturdiness of the plane, the teamwork of the crew, or a combination of all those factors, but whatever the reasons for this almost unbelievable fete, it is one that should live in aviation history. Exclaimed Lloyd Adelsberger; “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for that experience and I wouldn’t give ten cents for another like it! Not many landed at base that night. The mess hall was almost deserted and the few who did drop in could not seem to eat. The next morning, however, after stock was taken, things were not quite as bad as they at first appeared. The loss of Liberators was great but the loss of the enemy was even greater. A large part of his precious oil and gasoline supply had been destroyed. Ploesti will long be remembered.
From the Norwalk Hour January 22, 1945
The memorial window pictured below was dedicated at the 11 o’clock service at Trinity Episcopal Church on Fairfield Avenue yesterday morning by Rev Phillips Brooks Warner, rector, for Captain Edward Giorchino, AAF, who crashed to his death in England on June 30 last. The window was a gift to Trinity of the flier’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred A. Giorchino of Rock Ridge, but the father was unable to be present at the ceremony as he is a patient in a New York hospital receiving treatment. Mrs. Giorchino and their daughter, Mary, were at the service. The rector based his sermon on the theme deported in the window – “Christ and the Cesturne” — and drew from it a parallel of faith between that placed in Captain Giorchino by the men of his crew in his ability to command his bomber plane and bring it back safely to headquarters after executing a mission, and that of Centurion who sought healing for his servant from Christ. At the top of the window is shown the kneeling figure of a flier. In dedicating the window, Mr. Warner spoke of Captain Giorchino as a friend and parishioner for “Eddie”, as a boy, had attended Trinity Church School and served for a time as an assistant to the rector as an acolyte on the alter. Stainer’s “Love Divine” featured the musical program and it was sung by George Harris and Mrs. Irene Schwesel who were choirsters during Captain Giorchino’s service in the Trinity acolyte group.
Edward died in the line of duty of a non-battle related incident when P-38J #42-67687, which he was piloting, crashed for an unknown reason in Romania during the war. At 2033 hours, Captain Edward B. Giorchino, pilot of P-38 #42-67687 took off on his initial check flight. Aircraft checked in with the control tower and took off on Runway 27. At approximately 2112 hours the aircraft with gear down on the downwind leg made what appeared to be a normal approach. The aircraft came in a little high over Runway 27. The pilot applied more throttle to go around and passed over the runway at approximately 200 feet, where it continued on a heading of 270 and crashed into a small field at approximately 2114. From ground observations it appeared the aircraft bounced from its initial landing point in the small field and crashed into a tree and the right engine and right wing came off. The remainder of the aircraft spun around into another tree completely demolishing the aircraft. The aircraft burned and all possible evidence of mechanical failure was destroyed. It was the pilot’s first time in this type aircraft and he was slow timing a new engine, therefore neither pilot error or mechanical failure can be eliminated as a cause.
Captain Giorchino is buried in Riverside Cemetery; Section 20, Plot 64. Photo by webmaster.