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PFC Joseph T. "Joe" Piraneo
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Birth: Nov. 15, 1919
Summit
Union County
New Jersey, USA
Death: Jun. 4, 1942
Midway Islands, UMI

Joseph Thomas "Joe" Piraneo was the son of the Carlo Piraneo and Maria Sanzara, who were Sicilian immigrants. He was raised in Summit, New Jersey, and received his grammar school education there.

The 1930 U.S. Census reports the family as living in Summit, Union County, New Jersey, with the following family members living in the home:
Head Carlo Piraneo M 45 Italy
Wife Marie Piraneo F 44 Italy
Dau Lucy Piraneo F 17 New York
Son Frank Piraneo M 16 New York
Son John Piraneo M 14 New Jersey
Dau Vincenza Piraneo F 12 New Jersey
Son Joseph Piraneo M 10 New Jersey
Son Sophie Piraneo M 8 New Jersey
Son Anthony Piraneo M 5 New Jersey
Dau Mary Piraneo F 3 New Jersey
Son Louis Piraneo M 1 New Jersey

Joe enlisted on May 22, 1941, and received his boot camp training at Parris Island, South Carolina, with the Third Recruit Training Battalion. He was assigned to Engineering Squadron 14 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, for further training in gunnery and radio operation, and was still in school when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was soon assigned to VMSB-242 in early 1942. He sailed from San Diego, California, aboard the USS PRESIDENT HAYES in January and reported to the squadron's headquarters at Ewa Field, Hawaii. As an enlisted member of the dive-bomber squadron, he would fight as a combination rear gunner and radioman with second Lieutenant Bruno Hagedorn, who like Joe, was from New Jersey. Bruno had disembarked from the USS WILLIAM WARD BURROWS on April 17, 1942, and reported to the commander of VMSB-241 on Midway Island, under the command of the new commanding officer, Major Lofton Henderson.

Joe and Bruno started out flying an obsolete cloth covered Vought SB2U Vindicator dive-bomber. On May 26th, the squadron received a few Douglas Dauntless SBD-2 dive-bombers. Joe and Bruno were fortunate to be chosen to fly one of the new planes, #2139, although they would have only a few days to learn to operate it. They were assigned as wingmen to Lt. Albert Tweedy and Sgt. Elza Raymond; together, their two planes comprised the Fourth Section of the squadron's First Division.

On the morning of June 4, 1942, Maj. Henderson led his men into their first, and for most, last, combat action against the Empire of Japan. Joe and Bruno took off from Midway and, as Japanese planes turned the Marine base into rubble behind them, flew off to try and find the carrier strike force that was approaching their territory.

After nearly ninety minutes in the air, the Americans spotted the carriers and were in turn spotted by patrolling Japanese planes from the carrier HIRYU. The slow dive bombers, unable to dive properly due to the pilots inexperience with their new planes, were easy targets. Soon, seven of the bombers were falling in flames one of them carried Joe and Bruno to their deaths, though none of the survivors of that day actually remember seeing what happened to them.

Joe was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions that first and last day of combat. His lieutenant received the Navy Cross.

To this day, what actually happened to Joe and Lt. Bruno Hagedorn is unknown. But there is no doubt that their plane lies at the bottom of the Pacific where the lieutenant still sits at his planes controls, and Joe mans his guns and radio. Semper Fidelis...Always Faithful.

At the time of his death, Joe's parents were living at 24 Chestnut Avenue, Summit, New Jersey.

Private First Class Joseph Thomas Piraneo, Sn# 309271, earned the following badges/decorations for his service wihtt he United States Marine Corps during World War II:
- Marine Air Crew Wings
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Purple Heart Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon
- Presidential Unit Citation
- Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
- American Defense Service Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations Campaign Medal with one bronze battle/service star
- World War II Victory Medal

**NOTE** - A portion of this bio is based on information from the website missingmarines.com. They have done a fantastic job of researching approximately 3000 US Marines whose bodies were lost in the war. This writer wholeheartedly recommends their site for researchers or families of the missing. - Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR {RET})
 
 
Note: Entered the service from New York.
 
Burial:
Honolulu Memorial *
Honolulu
Honolulu County
Hawaii, USA
Plot: Courts of the Missing
*Cenotaph [?]
 
Maintained by: Rick Lawrence
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 06, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56119257
PFC Joseph T. Joe Piraneo
Added by: Rick Lawrence
 
PFC Joseph T. Joe Piraneo
Added by: Sgt. USMC
 
PFC Joseph T. Joe Piraneo
Added by: Sherry SH
 
 
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In honored remembrance of your valiant service and ultimate sacrifice for our great nation and the Allied cause during World War II. May it not have been in vain. Semper Fidelis!- Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR (RET)
- Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR (RET)
 Added: Jan. 6, 2014
 
 
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