Joseph “Jack” C. Rogillio used to listen to a familiar song,
“Louisiana Lullaby,” on the juke box after his ship watching duties
scouting for enemy ships in Kure Beach, N.C. He was like many young
men of that time, preparing to embark on a journey through Europe in
defense of his country on the cusp of World War II.
Rogillio’s storied service seems like one meant for Hollywood. He
had two combat jumps: one at Normandy and the other during Operation
Market Garden in Holland. He served with the 506th Parachute
Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, from the well-known Band
of Brothers series. For his service in WWII, he was awarded two
Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, all for actions in combat.
Sgt. Jack Rogillio enlisted in the Louisiana National Guard in 1936.
For three years until the unit was federalized, he was paid $18
every three months and had annual training at Camp Beauregard.
Rogillio admits that he joined for the money at first. Money was
also the reason why he signed up with the 101st Airborne Division to
become a paratrooper. At the time, jump pay was $50 which was more
than his wages as a sergeant. Once he joined up with the “Screaming
Eagles” he would depart for Airborne training in Europe. It would be
35 months until he would return home to Louisiana after leaving his
wife whom he wed shortly before deploying into theater.
Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment also has a storied
history, having performed all five combat Airborne operations during
World War II.
Seven Soldiers from Able Company, 1st
Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment (Airborne) found
themselves fellowshipping with an American hero during a visit to
his home May 9 near Fort Polk, Louisiana. Jack’s son, Joe Rigillio,
said that he was looking forward to the visit from fellow
paratroopers and that he had not seen him so alert in a while.
May 9, 2017 - Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute
Infantry Regiment (Airborne) proudly with Joseph "Jack" C. Rogillio
(98), a World War II combat veteran with the 506th Parachute
Infantry Regiment (Airborne), near Fort Polk, LA. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Chad Ashe)
“An old Soldier was honored. He was given the chance to
revisit his youth, share time, and talk with his lost
comrades in arms, join with other warriors to share the bond
that only those who have experienced combat can know,” said
Joe Ragillio on a social media post.
The visit had
many highlights for the “Geromino”
Soldiers and noncommissioned officers. Of them was Sgt. 1st
Class Robert J. Heffley, Able Company, 1-509th.
“This trip was a truly humbling experience. Jack is part of
such an amazing legacy, one that I have grown up studying
and only dreamed of continuing as a young Ranger,” said
“Only days ago, it looked like Jack would
not be with us any longer,” said Heffley of Jack’s failing
Rogillio, now 98 years old, has on
and off days according to his son Joe.
Vidrine, Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) who served with 82nd
Airborne Division in combat operations in the mid-1960’s,
considers Jack his friend. Jack is a member of the 82nd
Airborne Division Association, Inc. where Vidrine serves as
the chairman of the Acadiana Chapter.
Marshall, Able Company, 1-509th moved to the United States
from England in 2009 and joined the U.S. Army in 2010. Being
from a country also involved in the war, Marshall is from
one of the cities in England that was most effected by the
multiple bombings there. From 1939-1944, his grandfather was
evacuated as a child to a nearby farm in Wales to avoid the
A line from the song “Louisiana Lullaby”
once listened to by Jack those years ago says, “I want to
wonder where the willow weaves and lonely crickets cry.”
With tears in his eyes, Rogillio said goodbye to the 1-509th
Soldiers, still in disbelief that the paratroopers made the
time to spend the afternoon with him.
sincerely one of the most humbling experiences of my life,”
said Marshall. “Jack is a true warrior who has survived some
of the toughest battles ever fought and changed the course
of American history.”
“As an older Soldier now, the
benefit went both ways beneficially,” Vidrine said on the
impact the visit had on everyone involved. “Jack was
energized by their visit,” said Vidrine.
learned of his condition, we literally dropped everything
and came running. That’s just what paratroopers do. We take
care of our own; we are all family,” said Heffley.
By U.S. Army Maj. Chad Ashe
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