PFC Gilbert Aguilar

PFC Gilbert Aguilar

Death 26 Nov 1943 (aged 22)
At Sea
Burial Galveston, Galveston County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 127580951 · View Source
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US Army Signal Corps WORLD WAR II
Passenger PFC Gilbert Aguilar DIS
Unit: 31st Signal Construction Battalion
Service #18198769
Awards: Purple Heart

Ship: HMT Rohna
Mission: Troop Transport Convoy KMF-26
Loss Date: November 26, 1943
Location: Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Algeria.
Cause: German guided missile
Crew: On Board 2000 · Saved 606 · Lost 1138

This was the first successful "hit" of a merchant vessel at sea carrying US troops by a German remote-controlled, rocket-boosted bomb, thus giving birth to the "Missile Age", and it resulted in the greatest loss of troops (1,015) at sea in U.S. history. Combined with the loss of ship's crew and officers, and three Red Cross workers, more lives were lost than on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

The "hit" was so devastating that the U.S. Government placed a veil of secrecy upon it. The events which followed were so shameful that the secrecy continued for decades until recently (1967), when documents were grudgingly released under pressure of the Freedom of Information Act. The government still does not acknowledge this tragedy, thus most families of the casualties still do not know the fate of their loved ones. In 1995, over fifty years later, a group of survivors, next-of-kin and rescuers, came together for the sole purpose of enabling the creation and dedication of a Rohna Memorial.

On November 26, 1943 nearly two thousand American soldiers faced the most traumatic experience of their young lives. They woke up that morning aboard a vessel that some described as unfit for human habitation. Just a bunch of kids, mostly only a year or so out of high school. Exhibiting the expected Yankee cockiness, they were ready to take on anything the war had to offer. Having survived a Thanksgiving Day dinner the day before, things just had to get better. The sad part of it was, this would be the last Thanksgiving for over half of them!

The minesweeper USS Pioneer rescued 606 survivors of the sinking.

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  • Maintained by: John Dowdy
  • Originally Created by: Floyd Lanny Martin
  • Added: 7 Apr 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial 127580951
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for PFC Gilbert Aguilar (14 Jul 1921–26 Nov 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 127580951, citing Old Catholic Cemetery, Galveston, Galveston County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by John Dowdy (contributor 47791572) .