Navy Destroyer named in Honor of Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone
Manila Madness 5 K
Thank you for everyone who came out to support this years Basilone Manila Madness 5K for Charity
Check out these great shots captured by CompuScore .
Twinning of Municipalities
Here in the states we are surrounded by signs of how John Basilone has impacted our lives. From his heroic actions on the battle field to the legacy he has left to his family, friends and especially the community.
This has become more apparent as the prompting of the proposal of twining municipalities between Raritan, NJ and Colle Sannita, Italy. (The home town of John Basilone's father).
We are truly honored that Johnny's legacy continues to shine both here and abroad.
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to keep up with the latest news on this historic development.
"Our two towns are united by the heroic figure John Basilone, whose father emigrated from our town to the U.S. at the age of 19 many years ago in 1903".
- The Mayor of the Municipality of Colle Sannita
Dr. Giorgia Carlo Nista
(Excerpt from letter)
Newspaper Article from Italy “Il Mattino” Friday February 1st
Colle and Raritan twin cities in honor of “decorated” Basilone
Colle Sannita is twinning with the American town of Raritan in New Jersey. The twinship is in honor of John Basilone, an American Officer, son of Italians from Colle. He was awarded the the Medal of Honor for his war efforts during World War II. He died in 1945 at only 29 years of age. He grew up in Raritan. He was the only enlisted Marine during the Second World War who was awarded the “Medaglia d’Onore” Medal of Honor and the “Croce della Marina” Navy Cross.
This connection strengthens the relationship between Colle and Raritan. The “Colle Sannita Association” proposed the idea to Mayor Giorgio Nista and he immediately agreed. “We are extremely happy about this Twinship, said the Mayor, and proud that John Basilone has roots also in Colle”. And so, the teacher Dr. Regina Basilone, who lives in the United States, became interested in setting in motion the relationship between Mayor Nista and his fellow American Mayor Charles McMullin. Mr. McMullin was immediately receptive to the Twinship initiative and expressed the desire to name a street “Colle Sannita Way”. The street is near the John Basilone statue in Raritan, NJ. Likewise, Colle is also hoping to name a street in honor of Raritan’s John Basilone. The Township Meeting, February 6th, will approve a memorandum for the Twinning agreement documents, in anticipation of the official signing, which will be formalized by both of the delegations on August 5th and 6th, days in which the event will be celebrated.
(Translation: Dr. R. Basilone)
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION
The Basilone Memorial Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organization operated exclusively for charitable purposes. Our mission is specifically to raise funds to ensure a better quality of life for veterans as well as for the cancer patients that are serviced by the Steeplechase Cancer Center.
The co-founders of the Basilone Memorial Foundation are Donald Tozzi and Kim Van Note, niece of John Basilone.
To honor the Basilone spirit, our foundation raises money for both the Robert Wood Johnson Steeplechase Cancer Center in Somerville, NJ and the Fisher House Foundation in Bethesda, MD. Fisher Houses provide military families housing close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.
The Basilone Memorial Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Please consider making a contribution to assist our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country. Any donation you could provide will be greatly appreciated
THROUGH OUR EVENTS
We plan to raise funds by hosting various events several times per year.
So follow us on social media for the latest updates.
In the meantime check out our gallery from some of our most recent events!
MANILA MADNESS 2018
GET TO KNOW
In the 1920s there was a field here
that the Basilone kids played sports on
In John’s day kids played outside unsupervised. John’s brother Carlo explained in a 2003 interview that across from the Basilone home was an open field that served as their playground. (Today an office building and a “dreaded” jug handle are there.) In this field they played a variety of sports including baseball and football.
But it was the hitting of golf balls that was their favorite pastime.
The hill coming down First Ave.
made for some fun and dangerous sledding
When it snowed, John and his friends sometimes went sledding down First Avenue as the hill begins in the north and goes downward across Route 202. John’s cousin Carl Bengivenga recalled that once Carl, John, and another kid were speeding down the hill when they realized that they were on a collision course with a car. Carl said that he and the other kids froze in fear, but John Basilone - displaying coolness in this potentially deadly situation - managed to dig his heels into the ground flipping the sled over so they avoided being hit by the car.
St. Bernard's School was open 1888-1938
For school John Basilone initially went to the Raritan Primary School which was located where the municipal building is today.
But he was a rowdy kid, so his parents decided to send him to Catholic school where the nuns “might” be able to provide him the discipline needed. This school was St. Bernard’s Parochial School which was on Somerset Street. It was open 1888-1938. John went to that school until 8th grade when he graduated. That building was later used as the VFW hall. It burnt down around 1980. The Italian Bakery is there today.
In the 1950s the Basilone home and
the gas station were both on the property
Whatever happened to house that the Basilone family lived in ? The two-family house, once occupied on one side by the Basilones and the other side by the Bengivengas, was inherited by the Bengivenga family.
Over time the road that the house was on became a main road. So, to take advantage of this in 1950 Carl Bengivenga built a gas / repair station on the property next to the house. Then in 1961 the house was knocked down to make more room for the gas station. A Shell Station remains there today.
Currently no marker or plaque exists on the location to commemorate that John Basilone lived there. Perhaps there should be something there. (Yes – those things do cost money – easy to write about – yet hard to find a donor.)
John is the baby on the chair
John’s father Salvatore Basilone came to this country from Italy in 1903 when he was just 19. He would settle in Raritan and meet Dora Bengivenga at a church dance. They later married.
After having 5 children Sal and Dora temporarily moved away from Raritan to Buffalo. While living in Buffalo, on November 4th 1916, John was born. He would be their only child (of ten) not born in Raritan. The family soon came back to Raritan and in a few years moved in at 113 First Avenue. That home was at the North-West corner of what is now Route 202 (and First Ave.) – where the Shell Station is today.
In the 1920s there were no local public pools and air conditioning was decades away. So, on a hot summer day John and dozens of other boys would swim in the Raritan River. That was at times dangerous. Their favorite spot in the river was two blocks west of where the Basilone Statue is today. Since most boys did not have a bathing suit they swam naked. This led to the swimming
location being labeled the “bare ass beach”. Girls did not swim in the river for obvious reasons.
The Raritan movie theater was here
The movie theatre was another popular place for kids to go to in Basilone’s youth.
The local kids were fortunate as there were three local theatres. In Raritan was the Empire Theatre (later called The Playhouse) on Anderson Street. In Somerville there were two more theatres – The Regent Theatre and The Cort Theatre.
It was no big deal and very common for young kids to walk to Somerville alone.
Gaburo's Laundry was on Farrard Street
As for local employment John Basilone had a couple of jobs. In the summer months he was a caddy at the Raritan Valley Country Club. (That had opened in 1911 and is still open today.)
He also worked at Gaburo’s Laundry which was located in Raritan on Farrand Street. The building still stands, but today appears to have no tenants. This laundry pickup and delivery service served the surrounding towns.
The Basilone home stood at 113 First Avenue where the Shell station is today
It was a two-family home that was owned by Dora’s family. The Basilones lived on one side of the house while a Bengivenga family lived on the other side.
Each half of the home had just three bedrooms and one bathroom. But no one complained, as that is how things were back then.
John Basilone was referred to as “the town’s biggest soda drinker”.
Back then most soda consumption was not in the house, but at shops. The popular place that kids could order a soda and drink it was Raritan’s Candy Kitchen which was located at the North-East corner of Somerset and Wall Street. (Today the Raritan Music Store has that building.) This store was beloved by Raritan kids. It was open for decades around 1918-1968.
To compound the danger of kids playing outside without adult supervision back then was the fact that Raritan kids in the 1920s had access to transportation. There was a trolley line that ran down Somerset Street.
Raritan’s Augie Sena said in a 2004 interview that all a kid needed was a nickel and they could get on the trolley. The trolley could take you to Somerville, Bound Brook or even further.
When kids wanted to head in a direction that the trolley did not go, hitch hiking was a popular option. Many adults fortunate enough to own a car back then would think nothing of helping a few kids from town venture out somewhere.
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS posthumously to
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Leader of a Machine-Gun Section, Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 19 February 1945.
Shrewdly gauging the tactical situation shortly after landing when his company's advance was held up by the concentrated fire of a heavily fortified Japanese blockhouse, Gunnery Sergeant BASILONE boldly defied the smashing bombardment of heavy caliber fire to work his way around the flank and up to a position directly on top of the blockhouse and then, attacking with grenades and demolitions, single handedly destroyed the entire hostile strong point and its defending garrison. Consistently daring and aggressive as he fought his way over the battle-torn beach and up the sloping, gun-studded terraces toward Airfield Number 1, he repeatedly exposed himself to the blasting fury of exploding shells and later in the day coolly proceeded to the aid of a friendly tank which had been trapped in an enemy mine field under intense mortar and artillery barrages, skillfully guiding the heavy vehicle over the hazardous terrain to safety, despite the overwhelming volume of hostile fire. In the forefront of the assault at all times, he pushed forward with dauntless courage and iron determination until, moving upon the edge of the airfield, he fell, instantly killed by a bursting mortar shell. Stouthearted and indomitable, Gunnery Sergeant BASILONE, by his intrepid initiative, outstanding skill, and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of the fanatic opposition, contributed materially to the advance of his company during the early critical period of the assault, and his unwavering devotion to duty throughout the bitter conflict was an inspiration to his comrades and reflects the highest credit upon Gunnery Sergeant BASILONE and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
For the President,
MEDAL OF HONOR
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942.
While the enemy was hammering at the Marines' defensive positions, Sgt. BASILONE, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machine guns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. BASILONE'S sections, with its gun crews, was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. BASILONE, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment.
His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.