Thomas S. Pilleri

NAME
Thomas Stephen Pilleri
NICKNAME
MCSN
354727
HOME OF RECORD
14 Second Street, Boston, MA
NEXT OF KIN
Mother, Mrs. Angelina B. Pilleri
DATE OF BIRTH
~1922
DATE OF ENLISTMENT
January 9, 1942
DATE OF LOSS
September 14, 1942
REGION
Solomons
CAMPAIGN / AREA
Guadalcanal / Overland Trail
CASUALTY TYPE
Killed in Action
UNIT
K/3/1st Marines
DUTY
CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS
On 13 September 1942, PFC Pilleri volunteered to help man a listening post situated along the Overland Trail, near the banks of Guadalcanal’s Ilu River. At about 2230 hours, the advance guard of the Kumo Battalion – attempting to flank Marine positions on Bloody Ridge – ran into the little LP led by 2Lt. Joseph Terzi. The Marines scattered in the ensuing firefight, and PFC Pilleri was hit as he returned fire.

It took a monumental effort for the last of the volunteers to gain friendly lines. Four days later, all had returned except one. PFC Pilleri was determined to have been killed in action at the listening post; the official date of death was given as 17 September 1942. His body was buried in the field, but never recovered after the war.

INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS
Silver Star, Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS
“Buried in the field 17Sep42”
MEMORIALS
Manila American Cemetery

Biography:
Temporarily removed for editing and updating. Contact the webmaster for information on this Marine.

“Six of us ran into a company of Japs. Pilleri, Mixter, Laurence, Jabo, Joe Terzi and myself. Heard ’em coming and shot hell out of some of ’em. They tossed about 20 or 30 grenades at us and we withdrew to the Ilu River. We stayed [in] the river under an overhanging bank while the Japs beat along both banks shooting and screaming. We stayed in the river about three hours, and damn near froze to death. Then we climbed up the bank and stayed there ’til dawn….
“The night was the worst I’ve ever spent, and it’s only a miracle that I am here writing this today…. Mixter and Jabo came back about four days later. Laurence had made it back to our lines the night the fire-fight started. The Lieutenant and I came back the morning after. Pilleri didn’t come back at all. We’re leaving Tom on this island. He died there that night. But we didn’t find out till four days later. Tom was a good friend and a swell guy!”
PFC Leo McDermott, quoted in Jason Abady, Battle at the Overland Trail

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Private First Class Thomas Pilleri (MCSN: 354727), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action, in connection with operations against the enemy at Guadalcanal on 13 and 14 September 1942. Private First Class Pilleri was manning a machine gun for the all-volunteer, forward element listening post when a Japanese Battalion initiated a full scale assault to overrun the Marine control of Henderson Field. In the ensuing heavy fire fight, Private First Class Pilleri heroically remained at his station to cover the ordered withdrawal to the unit perimeter. Due to the lethal fire he provided against the enveloping enemy the other members of the post were able to withdraw, the Japanese surge was checked and the defensive positions were altered to maximum readiness. Private First Class Pilleri’s actions ultimately cost him his life, but helped saved the lives of other members of his unit and also helped the 11th Marines to repulse the Japanese attack. By his initiative courageous actions and complete dedication to duty, Private first Class Pilleri reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Articles and Records:

Muster roll of K/3/1, September 1942.

Photo Gallery:
Coming soon.

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