Technician 5th Grade Dominick La Monica (1907–1944)

Dominick La Monica (Courtesy of the Ciaburri family)
Home StateCivilian Occupation
New YorkPharmacist
BranchService Number
U.S. Army32348452
TheaterUnit
Mediterranean32nd Station Hospital
Military Occupational SpecialtyCampaigns/Battles
149 (pharmacist)Naples-Foggia and Rome-Arno campaigns

Delaware’s World War II Fallen occasionally profiles service members with no known connection to the First State. Technician 5th Grade La Monica served with my grandfather for over two years. This article incorporates some text from my previous articles, “History of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part I (Stateside and Algeria, 1942–1943)” and “History of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part II (Italy, 1944–1945).”

Early Life & Family

Dominick La Monica was born August 7, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest son of Damion, Dominick, or Dominao La Monica (a longshoreman, c. 1875–1928) and Maria or Mary La Monica (c. 1881–1941), Italian immigrants. He had four younger brothers and two younger sisters. He was especially close to his youngest sister, Rose La Monica (later Ciaburri, 1918–1977). Records indicate that La Monica lived most of his life at 550 Henry Street in Brooklyn—at least from January 8, 1920, when he was recorded on the census, through October 16, 1940, when he registered for the draft.

At the time he registered for the draft, La Monica was described as standing five feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 185 lbs., with brown hair and eyes. According to his enlistment data card, by the spring of 1942, La Monica had completed two years of college and was working as a pharmacist. La Monica was Catholic.


Stateside Service & Algeria

La Monica was drafted. He joined the U.S. Army on June 4, 1942, at Fort Jay on Governors Island, New York. Private La Monica was transferred to the 32nd Station Hospital on October 12, 1942, per Special Orders No. 95, Headquarters 76th Infantry Division, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. He joined the 32nd Station Hospital at Camp Rucker, Alabama, and was assigned to the unit’s pharmacy. On October 26, 1942, he moved with the unit to Fort Benning, Georgia. He remained there until December 27, 1942, when the unit departed for the overnight trip by train to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, a staging area for the New York Port of Embarkation (N.Y.P.O.E.).

32nd Station Hospital morning report recording that Private La Monica had been assigned to the unit on October 12, 1942 (National Personnel Records Center)

La Monica and the rest of the main body of the 32nd Station Hospital boarded the transport U.S.S. Ancon (AP-66) at the N.Y.P.O.E. on January 13, 1943. At the time the unit went overseas, its complement was 88 officers, 269 enlisted men, and six civilians. They shipped out on January 14, 1943, and arrived at Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria, on January 26, 1943. The unit went into staging at Bouisseville the following day. While there, La Monica was promoted to private first class on February 2, 1943.

The 32nd Station Hospital moved inland to Tlemcen on February 18, 1943, with the first patients arriving 10 days later. The unit requisitioned two school buildings, supplemented by additional structures constructed by engineers. The pharmacy was in Building “A,” formerly L’Ecole des Filles Indigenes. The enlisted men’s quarters were located in the Grand Hotel des Voyageurs.

Building “A” at the 32nd Station Hospital in Tlemcen, where La Monica worked in the pharmacy (Courtesy of the Hagelshaw family)
Grand Hotel des Voyageurs, the 32nd Station Hospital’s enlisted men’s quarters in Tlemcen. This image is stitched together from several frames in footage taken by the author’s grandfather in 1943 (Robert Silverman 8 mm film)

While serving in Tlemcen, La Monica was promoted to technician 5th grade on June 24, 1943. Although organized as a 500-bed station hospital, by that point the 32nd Station Hospital wards had been expanded to 1,000 beds. The 32nd Station Hospital was now comparable in size (if not capabilities or staffing) to a small general hospital. The U.S. Army had found that it was a more efficient use of personnel to simply enlarge a station hospital rather than opening several smaller ones. A single 750-bed station hospital, for instance, required ⅓ fewer officers than three 250-bed hospitals.

After nine months in operation in Tlemcen, the 32nd Station Hospital closed on November 28, 1943. On the night of December 7, 1943, the unit left Tlemcen for “Goat Hill,” a staging area near Oran. Most of the unit’s personnel shipped out to Italy on December 15, 1943, aboard a British transport, H.M.T.S. Cameronia, and arrived in Naples four days later.


Service in Italy

The 32nd Station Hospital moved to Caserta, Italy, on January 10, 1944, and opened for operations on January 15, 1944. The hospital compound was in a former Italian military facility along the Naples–Caserta highway (Route 87), one mile south of the Royal Palace of Caserta, which hosted Fifth Army Headquarters and later Allied Force Headquarters. Once again, the hospital expanded to a capacity of 1,000 beds, even as staffing remained that of a 500-bed station hospital. Due to overcrowding in the existing structures, which increased the spread of illnesses, the unit’s enlisted men moved to tents where they slept on cots placed atop wooden platforms.

Panorama of the 32nd Station Hospital compound in Caserta in 1944 or 1945 (Robert Silverman 8 mm film)

On the night of April 24, 1944, the 32nd Station Hospital sustained its closest call during the entire war. A German air raid (most likely targeting a nearby rail yard and airfield) resulted in three bombs landing in the vicinity of the hospital. One fell in a nearby field, a second on Route 87 some 60 feet from the hospital, and a third crashed into a wall of Ward 18. Although one bed was demolished by the impact, no hospital personnel or patients were harmed. All three bombs were duds, possibly due to sabotage by munitions workers conscripted by the Germans.

A 32nd Station Hospital history report from November 1944 stated that on November 3, 1944, Technician 5th Grade La Monica “died of a fractured skull after being struck by a British vehicle on [the] highway one mile south of [the] hospital area.”

Similarly, in an unpublished manuscript, Technician 4th Grade Dwight A. McNelly wrote that La Monica had been walking “back from visiting some Italian family he had become friendly with, and died shortly after surgery.”

Master Sergeant Charles E. Ballard recalled years later: “One of our pharmacists was killed by a British vehicle during a blackout on the night before he was being sent home for compassionate reasons.”

Technician 5th Grade La Monica died at 1830 hours on November 3, 1944. The 32nd Station Hospital personnel renamed their chapel the “Sheridan-LaMonica Memorial Chapel” in honor of La Monica and nurse Rachel H. Sheridan, who had been killed in a plane crash in 1943. Hospital Technician 5th Grade La Monica was initially buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery, Naples, on November 5, 1944.

1st Lieutenants Evelyn H. Wilson and Annie P. Barone outside the 32nd Station Hospital chapel in Caserta, Italy, on June 14, 1945. Note the sign reading “SHERIDAN-LaMONICA MEMORIAL CHAPEL” in honor of the two members of the 32nd Station Hospital killed during the war. (Courtesy of the Hagerty family)

After the war, at the request of his family, La Monica’s body was returned to the United States in the fall of 1948 aboard the U.S.A.T. Lawrence Victory. On November 12, 1948, a noncommissioned officer accompanied the casket from the N.Y.P.O.E. to the Falcone Funeral Home at 325 Smith Street in Brooklyn. Technician 5th Grade La Monica was buried alongside his parents at Saint John Cemetery (Section 4, Row O, Grave 77) in Middle Village, New York, on November 15, 1948.


Acknowledgments

Special thanks to the Ciaburri family for photographs of Technician 5th Grade La Monica. This tribute is especially meaningful to me because La Monica served with my grandfather, Dr. Robert Silverman, for over two years. For a comprehensive history of Technician 5th Grade La Monica’s unit, please visit my other website about the 32nd Station Hospital.


Bibliography

Ballard, Charles E. Introduction to “Highlights and Shadows of the Thirty-Second.” c. 1982. Courtesy of the Ballard family.

Dominick LaMonica Individual Deceased Personnel File. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri. https://32ndstationhospital.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/lamonica-dominick-wwii-army-idpf.pdf

Goss, Harold L. “Medical History of the Thirty Second Station Hospital.” December 31, 1943. Unit Annual Reports, 1940–1949. Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://32ndstationhospital.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/32nd-sta-hosp-1943-report.pdf

“Historical Report of the Thirty-Second Station Hospital 1 November to 30 November 1944, incl.” World War II Operations Reports, 1940–1948. Record Group 407, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1905–1981. National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

McNelly, Dwight A. “Italy.” Unpublished manuscript in the Dwight McNelly and Dorothy Eggers Collection at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, Chicago, Illinois.

Morning reports for 32nd Station Hospital Headquarters and Medical Detachment, 1942–1944. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

Silverman, Lowell. “History of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part I (Stateside and Algeria, 1942–1943).” November 15, 2018. Updated January 21, 2022. 32nd Station Hospital website. http://32ndstationhospital.com/2018/11/15/history-of-the-32nd-station-hospital-during-world-war-ii-part-i-stateside-and-algeria-1942-1943/

Silverman, Lowell. “History of the 32nd Station Hospital: Part II (Italy, 1944–1945).” November 19, 2018. Updated January 21, 2022. 32nd Station Hospital website. https://32ndstationhospital.com/2018/11/19/history-of-the-32nd-station-hospital-part-ii-italy-1944-1945/

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4313495-00993

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4661169_00297

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. https://aad.archives.gov/aad/record-detail.jsp?dt=893&mtch=1&cat=all&tf=F&q=32348452&bc=&rpp=10&pg=1&rid=2971590

WWII Draft Registration Cards for New York City, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44027_05_00139-01781


Last updated on February 15, 2022

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