Sgt. John A. Distasio
Belleville held a public street naming ceremony in honor Sgt. John A. Distasio at the intersection of Dawson and Garden avenues on November 14, 2020.
Sgt. John Arthur Distasio, 19, of 145 Garden Avenue, Belleville, was killed in action in the South Pacific on June 22, 1945.
He served in the 372nd Bomber Squadron, 307th Bomber Group, Heavy.
According to the Missing Air Crew Reports (MACR), also killed in the PBY Catalina crash were pilot Douglas S. Sorem, Daniel Loeffelholz, Albert C. Lorenz, Glenn P. Gatenby, Arthur R. Helder, Robert Kahl, and unknown Kulig. (See below for crew report update.)
Born March 8, 1926, Distasio enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on April 5, 1944, in Newark, N.J.
The son of Constantino and Maria Distasio, he is survived by siblings Mildred, Patsy, Anna, Dorothy, Ruth, Joseph, Rose, and Camelia.
He is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing, Manila, Manila American Cemetery and at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
In 1960, his mother requested a military headstone which is in Arlington National Cemetery, Section ME Site 24.
MISSING Belleville Man, B-24 Gunner
The War Department yesterday listed a Belleville B-24 gunner as missing in the Pacific war theater.
Sgt. John A. Distasio, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Constantine Distasio, 145 Garden Avenue,(Belleville), was reported missing in action after a raid over the Celebes Island June 22 (1945).
A crew-member of Distasio's plane recently wrote his parents their son was not found after the plane crash-landed on the island.
Distasio attended Belleville High School and was employed by the International Sterling Products, Newark, before enlisting in March 1944. He went overseas in January.
372nd Bombardment Squadron/307th Bombardment Group
(21 August 1945) After each mission the crew members are interrogated to obtain a clear and accurate story of all details of the mission. Following is the narrative account taken from the official mission report of 22 June:
'The radio operator, Sgt. Loeffelholz, gave a position report and the engineer, Sgt. Kahl, and Martin gunner, Sgt. Gatenby, made their way to the waist. The bombardier, Lt. Helder, and tail gunner, Sgt. Distasio, were already there with their chutes on.
When told to do so by the pilot, Sgt. Gatenby jumped through the camera hatch, the navigator, Lt. Kulig, jumped second from the forward part of the bomb bay.
The radio operator was next through the bomb bay and Sgt. Kahl next out the camera hatch. Before he jumped Sgt. Kahl called to the bombardier and tail gunner telling them to jump. They said nothing and when last seen were in the waist of the plane.
All jumps were made from 500-700 feet at about 1315/I. Everyone hit on land within a mile or so of each other. Sgt. Loeffelholz and Sgt. Gatenby got together in a matter of minutes and were soon able to join Lt. Kulig. It was about 20 minutes or so before Sgt. Kahl met them on the beach. Meanwhile the pilot and co-pilot had successfully ditched the plane off shore at 1322/I and made their way to the beach."
It was first believed that all crew members except the pilot and co-pilot had parachuted but this was not confirmed when the survivors returned to base.
Continuing searches have failed to produce any new information concerning your brother. You may rest assured you will be notified immediately of any new developments.
307th Bombardment Group – The Long Rangers
372nd Bombardment Squadron/307th Bombardment Group, Condolence letter
1930 United States Federal Census
1940 United States Federal Census
American Battle Monuments Commission
Andrew Colannino, nephew
Arlington National Cemetery
The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans 1925-1963
U.S. Rosters of World War II Dead, 1939-1945
U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946
Ancestry.com. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941. Microfilm publication M1916, 134 rolls. ARC ID: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92. National Archives at Washington, D.C.
Applications for Headstones, compiled 01/01/1925 - 06/30/1970, documenting the period ca. 1776 - 1970 ARC: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
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