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August 16, 2013

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POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 16, 2013 Page 7 TONY MARCHIONE The Last American to Die in WWll by James DiPrima Before flying on a B-32, Marchione (front, second from right) had been on a B-24 Liberator crew that included his buddies Rudy Nudo and Frank PaUone (front, second and third from left, respectively. The telegram from the Army read "Killed in Action August 18, 1945". How could this be? The War was over, the Japanese were going to sign the terms of surrender on the USS Missouri. Where was the ac- tion? How did he die? These and other ques- tions must have run through the minds of Ralph and Amelia Marchione of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a small town about 30 miles north west of Philadelphia, concerning their 20-year-old son Anthony "Tony" Marchione, the oldest of the three children in the fam- ily and the only boy. Tony was five foot six, good-looking, black hair and brown eyes and weighed 120 pounds. He was a typical young man like all the other young men who signed up to defend their country in World War II. In 1943, although still in high school, he wanted to sign up to be a pilot in the Army Air Force; instead he was sent for training to be an aerial gunner. In November of 1944 he was transferred to Will Rogers Army Air Force Base in Oklahoma to be trained in photo reconnaissance. Marchione along with fellow gunners Rudolph Nudo, Frank Pallone and Raymond Zech received train- ing to become photographer's assistants and were assigned to a reconnaissance B-32 Dominator when their squadron moved to Okinawa. The squadron's duties changed when the Japanese surrendered. The crew was now to fly photo-reconnaissance missions dur- ing the daytime to insure that the Japanese complied with the cease-fire that was in effect. The terms of the cease-fire allowed for the US planes to fly freely over Tokyo. This was also to insure that the Japanese would not use anti-aircraft fire or send fighters against the planes. It became known that there was a possi- bility within the Japanese government, in- cluding the military, that due to the recent bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki they were ready to go along with an unconditional surrender. On August 15, 1945 Emperor Hirohito went before his nation on radio and announced his intention to surrender to the Allies. This, the military felt, was a dishonor to the country. Many of the Japanese navy fighter pilots at the nearby bases around Tokyo were capable of carrying on the fight to defend the honor of Japan. On August 17, as four B-32 reconnaissance planes made their way up the northeast coast they were attacked. The B-32s were able to fend off the attack without any injuries to the air- men but the planes sustained some minor damage. After filing their reports it was decided by US Commanders that the mis- sions should continue in order to find out ff indeed the Japanese were going to abide by the cease-fire or continue the war. Mission 230 A-8 was to cover the same targets as the previous flight. First Lieuten- ant James Klein in the Hobo Queen II would lead to be followed by First Lieutenant John R. Anderson in the second B-32. Flying with Anderson would be Marchione, Rupke and Joseph Lacharite, from Massachusetts. As they flew over Tokyo, down below at the Japanese airbases the fighter pilots on the ground ran to their planes to intercept the two B-32 Dominators, including two of Japans Aces, Saburo Sakai and Sadamu Komachi, between them they had shot down 100 Allied aircraft. One of the gunners on Klein's plane saw a plane on the ground taking off and Klein turned the plane to see them coming up at them. He knew it would take a while for them to reach him since he was fly- ing at 20,000 feet but his concern was for Anderson who was at 10,000 feet. He radi- oed a warning to Anderson but received no answer. Anderson's tail gunner had spotted the fighter now flying at the same altitude and he was able to shoot him down. Lacharite and Marchione were tying their camera gear when they heard the cry of incoming aircraft. Lacharite went to the starboard observation window to try to see the attack- ing planes and was hit in both legs. Having the presence of mind to reach for the cord from a barrack bag that carried the camera gear he tied a tourniquet around one of his legs and an intercom cord around the other while Marchione was helping him to a cot on the floor. Marchione got on the intercom and told Anderson what had happened and Anderson said he was sending Rupke. As Marchione turned to Lacharite a 20mm round came through the starboard side and hit him and threw him to tile other side of the plane. When Rupke arrived Tony was bleeding with a large hole in his chest. Af- ter thirty minutes of giving him plasma and applying compressions bandages to his wound Tony Marchione was dead in Rupke's arms. The Dominators returned to base with minor damages. Anderson had lost an engine and had lost partial rudder control. That battle was the last air battle of the war. Included in the cease-fire was a pas- sage that required propellers be removed from all Japanese fighters. US planes were now free to fly over Japan without fear of an attack. The last air battle was overshadowed by the attention to the signing of the sur- render on board the USS Missouri. The body of Anthony "Tony" Marchione was brought back to Pottstown, Pennsylvania accompanied by his Italian-American bud- dies Frank Pallone and Rudy Nudo on March 18, 1949. He was buried with full military honors and was laid to re,:in St. Aloysius Old Cemetery. You can email your questions to to the attention of Freeway. Don't forget folks, Freeway is not a vet, so please keep the questions light-hearted! Thanks. I'm getting more emails than ever and I am so happy. Anna and .Peanut Ruggiero from East Boston love my articles, so this week I am going to write about the feasts in the North End. It has been one heck of a summer. You couldn't ask for more, the weather has been beautiful, warm and sunny. I can't believe after this weekend there is only one more weekend of cel- ebrations. Talking about the feast, my human companion and I will stop at the Fisherman's Feast and La Summa Restaurant on Fleet Street. They have tables and chairs with the umbrellas and green grass with a white fence, for a moment it will be like being in the country. La Summa Restaurant is defined with elegance. The dishes are well prepared and cooked to order, the service is great and you always feel welcome. There are many restaurants in the North End and they are all good, but La Summa, I have to say holds the atmosphere for the best family restaurant in the North End. As my human companion would say the smell of garlic and the Italian sauce can't be beat. The North End is just a won- derful place to eat and live. Wouldn't it be great if all my pooch friends could eat in these wonderful restau- rants? I'll have one meatball please! And a side of pasta, hold the parsley, you know that green stuff you put all over the plate for decoration. We only have two more feasts left: St. Anthony and of course St. Lucy. St. Lucy's is my favorite because I am the only pooch that does chapel duty. I have my own St. Lucy polo shirt and I sit with the girls and keep them company because it's my job to protect them. Come by if you're in the area and buy some raffle tickets and pin a few dollars on St. Lucy. 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