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John Messina

 

Date and Place of Birth: Date Unknown Medford, MA
Date and Place of Death:    July 13, 1943 Sicily
Baseball Experience: College
Position: Unknown
Rank: First Lieutenant
Military Unit: HQ Company, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division US Army
Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations

An outstanding three-sport star, John Messina was inducted in the University of Rhode Island Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978.

John S. Messina was a three-sport star at Medford (MA) High School, the Clark School of Hanover (NH) and Rhode Island State College (now the University of Rhode Island). Messina earned nine varsity letters at Rhode Island and is credited with pioneer efforts in the famed Frank Keaney fast-break system of basketball.

Messina was also part of the Army ROTC at Rhode Island and immediately following graduation in 1937, he reported to Fort Adams, as a newly commissioned second lieutenant in the Infantry Reserve for two weeks field duty with Second Battalion, 13th Infantry.

In 1938, Messina became head baseball coach at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine. During his three years at Edward Little he was also assistant to Jackie Fisher in football and basketball. Among the players he coached were Hank LePage and Chip Pontbriand who both played in the minors after the war.

During this time he also officiated basketball games at Maine College and played baseball with L&B Bakers, winners of the state semi-pro title, and basketball with the YMCA team, also state champions.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Messina enlisted in February 1942. He initially trained at an infantry school before volunteering for the paratroopers. He trained at Fort Benning, Georgia and graduated as a first lieutenant on July 4, 1942, immediately taking command of his company.

1/Lt. Messina went overseas with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in 1943. On July 13, 1943, John Messina was killed in action during the invasion of Sicily. He was survived by his wife, the former Miss Virginia Lynn, whom he married on June 28, 1941.

A year after his death, the Lt. John Messina Trophy was awarded to Donald H. Arnold, sophomore athletic star at Edward Little High School, first recipient of the award for the outstanding player on the school basketball team.

John Messina is buried at the Sicily-Rome Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy. He was inducted in the University of Rhode Island Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978.

Sources
Newport Mercury And Weekly News June 18, 1937
Lewiston Evening Journal March 25, 1944
http://www.gorhody.com

Date Added February 26, 2013

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