Armand Gerard Alessandrini
|HOME OF RECORD:
New Milford, NJ
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Mary Alessandrini
|DATE OF BIRTH:
|DATE OF DEATH:
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
Armand was born in Palisades, New Jersey, the son of Italian marble sculptor Angelo Alessandrini and his wife, Mary. He spent most of his life at 238 Eagle Avenue in New Milford with his parents and older sister Norma, attending New Hackensack High School and landing a job in the shipyards of nearby Kearny.
In February 1943, at the age of 27, Alessandrini left the shipyards and enlisted in the Marine Corps. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, he was assigned as a private to the Engineer Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune–probably the result of his civilian occupation–and, like most of the men from his class, he eventually became members of the 20th Marines, the engineer regiment of the Fourth Marine Division. Private Alessandrini was assigned to Company D, Second Battalion of the 20th–a pioneer unit that remained stationed on the east coast, while the rest of the regiment trained at Camp Pendleton, California. Alessandrini crossed the country himself in the summer of 1943, and spent the rest of the year training for combat. Although he probably had other duties connected with the pioneers, he was carried on the rolls as an ordinary rifleman.
Alessandrini’s first assignment overseas was not to destroy, but to rebuild. The assault regiments of the Fourth Marine Division hit Roi-Namur in the Kwajalein atoll on 1 February 1944. The engineers followed several days after the island were secured, and for most of the month of February the 20th cleared debris, repaired buildings and airfields, and built new fortifications alongside their Third Battalion, the 121st Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees).
After sailing back to Maui, Alessandrini was promoted to Private First Class. He participated in further training, then saw pitched combat in the invasions of Saipan and Tinian with his regiment, often fighting alongside another rifleman, PFC Leon Abrams. PFC Alessandrini survived both his second and third battles without a scratch, and returned to Maui–where, to the dismay of all personnel, it was announced that the regiment would be disbanded. On August 31, 1944, Alessandrini said goodbye to the men he’d trained and fought with for more than a year, and reported to his new assignment with Company C, 24th Marines.
Three Pacific campaigns transformed the Kearny shipbuilder into a hardened veteran who knew his way around a battlefield. This knowledge, plus his relatively advanced age–Alessandrini turned 29 not long after joining Charlie Company–may have influenced his designation as a rifle platoon messenger. Besides, the new platoon leaders were barely out of college, let alone officer’s training, and all were in their early twenties. As part of the platoon headquarters, Alessandrini would carry messages from his lieutenant when radio or phone communications were out.
PFC Alessandrini landed on Iwo Jima on 19 February, 1945. He seemed bound to survive his fourth battle–but sadly, his luck ran out. He was killed in action on March 8, along with the company’s last two platoon leaders (1)
Armand Alessandrini was buried in the Fourth Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima. After the war, in accordance with his parents’ wishes, he was returned to the United States, and today rests in Saint Andrews Cemetery, River Vale, New Jersey.
(1) Second Lieutenants Jack Fansler and David Griffith were both killed on this date. Although PFC Alessandrini’s platoon assignment is not known for certain, it is possible (if not probable) that he was with one of these young officers when he lost his life.