Grove City, PA
U.S. Navy – World War II
Vincient “Jim” Mongiello’s father Ben opened a harness and leather repair shop in Mercer after settling there from Italy.
“When the United States got involved in World War I,” Jim said, “Father closed his leather shop and volunteered for the army. He fought in four major battles with the Fourth Division in Europe. And he wasn’t even a citizen.”
That set a good example for Jim. He joined the Navy even before he graduated from Mercer High School.
“In the class of 1943, if you had passing grades, you could leave and go into the service and receive your diploma. In January I joined the Navy. My mother received my diploma in May.”
After training, he sailed on LST 177 across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, the flat-bottomed LST does not do well in the tumultuous waters of the open sea.
“I got seasick on the first day out of New Orleans. An officer caught me lying down. He shouted at me to get to work. I walked out on deck, and here’s the captain with a bucket to upchuck in – he was seasick, too. The rule was, if you were seasick, you worked anyhow.”
Barely 18, Jim was the ship’s “oil king,” responsible for taking on all fuel, dispensing it, and accounting for it.
“I had 57 tanks to take care of. At eight every night I had to have a report on the captain’s desk.”
1967 and 1998, he organized 27 reunions of the LST 177. He collected LST memorabilia, including LST 177’s bell and helm (steering wheel). He sent most of it to LST 325, which is still afloat as a museum in Evansville, Indiana.
Throughout his life, Jim was very active in his community, serving 26 years on the Mercer borough council, and being involved in many organizations, including the Masons, United Methodist Men, VFW, American Legion, and Ducks Unlimited. As an alumnus of Mercer High School, he organized many reunions for his graduating class. In 2010, he was inducted into the Mercer High School Alumni Hall of Fame.