October 29, 1910 (Norwalk, CT) – September 11, 1943; 32 years old
Married to the former Jennie Nardi (1915-2007) on June 27, 1936 in Norwalk
Last local address: 111 George Avenue, Norwalk
Service number: 6427052
USS Savannah (CL-42)

Born to John (1870-1953) and Elizabeth Nagy Rinko (1868-1960). One sister, Pearl R. (1918-2005).

Awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

Thought to be Missing In Action yet not found on the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) web page. In an e-mail on March 10, 2021, Sergeant Guerra J. Chugg, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Outreach and Communication, he wrote, “the mission of our agency is to account for personnel whose remains were lost in battle and never recovered/identified during or after the war.  The reason that SC3 John Rinko is not listed on our site is that the Navy records state his remains were recovered and buried at sea.” SC3 Rinko lost his life from a direct bomb hit on top of the #3 turret during action in the Gulf of Salerno, on the western coast of Italy at 9:44 a.m., September 11, 1943.

From The Norwalk Hour October 28, 1943

Was Well Known Ball Player And Athlete; Member Of Laurel Club; Buried At Sea

John “Lefty” Rinko, a well-known ball player and athlete, was killed in action at sea according to a telegram received from the Navy Department last night by his wife, Mrs. Jennie L. Rinko, of 111 George Avenue. No details were given except that burial took place at sea. Rinko, an active member of the Laurel Athletic Club and one of the most popular left-handed baseball pitchers in Norwalk, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on October 22, 1942. He received his boot training at Newport, Rhode Island, and was immediately assigned to sea duty. Only recently he had been promoted from Seaman to Ship’s Cook Third Class. His last furlough at home was in April of this year. Rinko was employed by the Hat Corporation of America, Cavanagh unit, before enlisting. When he joined the service, Rinko enlisted his dog, a Shepherd police dog in the U.S. Coast Guard. Rinko was the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Rinko of Paradiso Street. In June 1938, Rinko married Miss Jennie L. Nardi, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Nardi of 111 George Avenue. Besides his wife and parents, a sister, Pearl, survives.

From The Norwalk Hour June 22, 1944

The Purple Heart Medal has been awarded posthumously to John Rink, Ship’s Cook Third Class, United States Naval Reserve. It was forwarded by the Bureau of Naval Personnel to the wife of the deceased, Jennie Rinko of 111 George Avenue. Mrs. Rinko was notified by the War Department last October that her husband was killed in action on September 11, 1943. He died in the battle at the Allied landings at Salerno. His cruiser was dive-bombed by a Nazi plane and he was one of the casualties. John, better known as “Lefty”, was an outstanding southpaw hurler here and was popular with players and fans alike. His passing was a shock to all sports fans as well as his family and friends.

From On 11 September off the coast of Italy, the USS Savannah suffered the blow that effectively ended her active career. The Germans had developed a number of remote-controlled anti-shipping weapons. On the morning of 11 September, a glide bomb narrowly missed the Philadelphia. A few minutes later an FX1400 radio-controlled bomb launched from a Dornier Do-217 hit the armored roof of Number 3 Turret. The bomb went straight through the turret and exploded in the lower handling room, part of the magazine. A large hole was blown out of the bottom of the ship, and water reached 152ft along the ship. Secondary explosions followed for the next 30 minutes, but the rapid flooding helped prevent a disastrous magazine explosion. Although the Savannah was very badly damaged, her crews managed to seal off the affected areas, and by 1757 she was able to set off under her own steam. She lost 197 men in the attack, with fifteen seriously wounded. Four men were trapped in a watertight compartment and could only be rescued after she reached Malta.

USS Savannah

Memorialized Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, Piazzale Kennedy, 1, 00048 Nettuno RM, Italy


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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