Watch Hill Fire Department
Watch Hill Fire Department
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WHFD Remembers Private First Class Louis Gaccione
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By Chief Robert Peacock
November 15, 2020

Last Sunday, we posted a photo in honor of Veterans Day of the Watch Hill Hose and Engine Company Military Honor Roll. This wooden plaque lists the names of all current and former Watch Hill Firefighters who served our country during a time of war.

A question was submitted asking why only one name has a white star painted next to it.

Of the 68 names listed on the Watch Hill Hose and Engine Company Military Honor Roll, 67 came home alive.

Unfortunately, Louis Gaccione did not.

Louis was born on June 7th in 1932 and was killed in action in Korea on July 18th in 1953. Although the war ended in a truce just over a week later on July 28th, the Military had not yet made official notification to the family of his death until after news of the war ending had reached them.

His remains were brought home and he is buried at Saint Sebastion Cemetery. His large granite headstone includes a relief carving of a winged angel comforting a fallen soldier and the following words at the base;

Soldier, Rest! Thy Warfare Over. Dream of Fighting Fields No More, Sleep the Sleep That Knows Not Breaking, Morn of Toil, Nor Night of Waking.

Next to the headstone is a weathered and tarnished bronze marker in the shape of a Firefighter Maltese Cross with the words Hose and Engine 1 Watch Hill.

Louis Gaccione was a Private First Class and served as a Light Weapons Assault Crewman in the 179th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division. He had been in country in Korea for approximately one month and had been in action for approximately 3 weeks when he was killed by a hand grenade.

Louis was the son of Salvatore and Raffaela Gaccione and the fiancé of Eileen Spino Morrone.

The Korean War resulted in approximately 34,000 battle deaths including 111 from Rhode Island. Mr. Gaccione was 1 of the 111. The war also resulted in more than 100,000 wounded in action. The first war to include the United Nations, 16 countries sent troops and 41 countries sent equipment or aid. The United States sent approximately 90 percent of the troops. Almost 8,000 are still unaccounted for.

One of his close friends, Edward Liguori, wrote a letter to the newspaper remembering his close friend Louis as well as another close friend, Anthony Giordano. Edward wrote that they were very close buddies who attended Westerly High School and were Class of 1950 graduates. They were drafted together in October of 1952 and processed at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. The last four digits of the newly assigned service number for Louis was 9929 and for Edward was 9930 and for Anthony was 9931. A couple of days later they were separated when Louis and Anthony were sent to Fort Dix for sixteen weeks of basic training with the 47th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division.

That was the last time Edward ever saw Louis.

On Veterans Day, the station horn was sounded at 11:11 in the morning to honor and recognize all of the Veterans who have served our country, especially Private First Class Louis Gaccione!

The Watch Hill Fire Department has many current and former members who are Veterans and we are proud to recognize them!

Thank you to the friends and family members of Louis including Kathy Gaccione, Rita Martin, Emilio Murano, and Edward Liquori for providing additional information and photos for this post.

The link to the letter written by Edward Liguori is below:

https://www.thewesterlysun.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letter-honoring-westerly-veterans-who-were-lost/article_5f4a880a-20c5-11eb-acad-c30f8f2e6e37.html

Hyperlinks: Edward Liguori Letter
 

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