In Honored Glory!
World War II Honor Roll

Rocco Piligno

Staff Sergeant, 
U.S. Army Air Forces


394th Bomber Squadron, 
5th Bomber Group, Heavy

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: April 30, 1945
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Manila, Philippines
Awards: Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart

STAFF SERGEANT ROCCO PILIGNO was born in New Jersey in 1921 to John and Mary Piligno. Rocco Piligno was the youngest of five children, coming after Carmela, Joseph, Josephine, and Rose. The Pilignos were living in Camden, New Jersey by He lived in Camden NJ. As a youth he lived at 1299 Decatur Street, where his father had a grocery in he spring of 1930. After attending Hatch Junior High School on Park Boulevard, Rocco Pilgno graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School on Federal Street in Camden in February of 1940. The family later moved to 1610 Pershing Street

Rocco Piligno was drafted in July 30, 1943. After qualifying for flight duty, he trained as a member of a B-24 bomber crew. Serving in the Pacific Theater, he had met his nephew, Staff Sergeant Charles Marlowe, shortly before he was killed in action at the age of 22 while serving with the U.S. Army Air Force on April 30, 1945. 

Flying in a B-24 bomber piloted by First Lieutenant Benjamin Whiteker, serial #44-41869 and assigned to the 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group, 13th Air Force, Rocco Pilgno his crew were killed in Action on April 30, 1945 while on a combat mission over Davao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands, when his aircraft collided with another B-24, serial #44-41541, and crashed into the sea. The pilot of the other aircraft was First Lieutenant. Benjamin B. Smith

On the 30 April 30, 1945, the 394th Bomb Squadron  took off from Guiuan Air Strip, Samar Island, Philippine Islands, for a combat bombing mission on Davao, Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands.  The flight to, and over the target, was successful.  After they had completed dropping there bombs, they proceeded toward Morotai Island, in the Molucca Islands, where they planned to land

They were approximately thirty miles from Morotai Island, near Race Island, flying in their usual formation, when two of the airplanes in the formation collided.  B-24M Serial No. 44-41869 and B-24L Serial No. 44-41541.  The collision damaged both planes severely, causing them to crash into the ocean immediately.  There were no survivors on either aircraft, and only one of the bodies was recovered, that of F/O Arthur B. Sobol, T-128 478, after a through search had been made by surface craft and low flying search aircraft.

Rocco Piligno's older brother Joseph owned his own barber shop in Camden, then became a welder during WWII and by 1947 a police officer in Camden. After retiring he became Captain of the Guard of the Garden State Race Track. He was the cofounder and past president of the Camden FOP Lodge# 1 and the New Jersey State Lodge. He remained active in the FOP until his death, attending meetings throughout the state advocating support of the brotherhood. He was the husband of the late Helen J. Piligno (nee Chudzinski). Two of his brothers-in-law, John Chudzinski and Leon Chudzinski, were members of the Camden Fire Department.