AQUINO. THOMAS F., Staff Sergeant, #12198703, USAAF
Thomas F. Aquino was born on 23 July 1922 (per NY birth index; grave marker states 21 July) in Rome, Oneida Co., New York, to Rocco N. Aquino (1877-1947) (Italy) and Domenica “Minnie” (Renzelli) Aquino (1884-1966) (married 1905). Siblings were Joseph Aquino (1905-1987) (NY), Genaro Aquino (1906-1967), James Aquino (1908-1977), Nick Aquino (1909-1984), Albert Aquino (1911-2001), Sarah (Aquino) Tosti (1913- ), Rose (Aquino) Campanaro (1916-1943), Carmine Nicholas Aquino (1918-1986), and Frank J. Aquino (1920-1981). Living with them in 1930-1940 was his maternal grandmother, Sarah Renzelli (1864- ) (Italy). His father was a grocery merchant in 1930).
He enlisted in the USAAF in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on 31 January 1943. He was trained to maintain and operate the radio equipment on the B-25 Mitchell. He earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas through India to China. On 20 June 1945 a B-25J, “Carolyn K,” # 43-27807, assigned 14th Air Force, 341st Bomb Group, 11th Bomb Squadron, Yangkai, China, departed the airfield on a bombing mission to Quang Tri, French Indochina (Annam or Vietnam). It was seen to crash at about 1508 Zulu near Quang Tri (16° 45’ North & 107° 11’ East). 1stLt Ronald E. Irwin, 0-889885, witnessed the crash. He reported that the B-25 came in on a bombing run at 110° across a two-span bridge at Quang Tri. As it came out of its dive, it rocked twice then straightened out 50’-75’ above the bridge. The left wing went down and the B-25 rolled over and crashed inverted, nose first, about 30’ to the left and 100’ past the bridge. It and its bombs exploded in a “terrific explosion” on impact. Flames and smoke rose 500’. Ten minutes later the rest of the B-25 flight overflew the crash at 2,500’. Fire was burning over an area of 300’. Ammunition was exploding. After recovery from Hue, French Indochina, his remains were buried in the Saint Johns Cemetery, Rome, New York. He was honored by the Chinese Air Force on the tablets of the Nanjing, China, Monument to Aviation Martyrs, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.