Having served as historian of American Legion Post 42 of Ocean Springs, Miss., for the past several years, the post wanted to honor our WWII members. Included among them were Melvin Irving, Barbara Chachitz, Maurice Michaud - later grand marshal of our annual Veterans Day parade - Fred Lemon, Adelchi Pilutti, Rev. J.A. Sharp, Fred Liscoe and Frank Ryncarz, who were presented certificates recognizing them as warriors of the “The Greatest Generation,” but not all were there. This is the story of one of them, Adelchi Pilutti.
After calling to make an appointment, I approached his small cottage house in Ocean Springs. The first thing I noticed was a wooden walkway to the front door. Upon opening the door, Adelchi gave me a big smile and said “come in”. He was slight of stature, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing about 145 pounds and 90 years of age. With a big smile he said “sit down." He was anxious to tell his story of WWII, having met Gen. Eisenhower as a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne, and his many awards encased in a large picture frame hang on the wall, to include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and French Legion of Honor.
Mr. Pilutti was born Dec. 18, 1921 in Rivignano, Italy, to Louisa and Giovanni Pilutti. He was brought to America when he was six months old. A widower, Aldelchi has three grown children, Aleta, Kathy and Blake. Aldelchi entered in the Army on Jan. 1, 1941. Basic training was at Camp Shelby, Miss., then Camp Haam in California. From 1942 and 1943 he was in parachute school at Fort Benning, Ga. He joined the 508th in 1944. In all, he said, I completed 105 jumps in my lifetime on every plane from fixed-wing to rotary. Two of these were in combat. His first was behind enemy lines at night prior to the invasion of Normandy, where they were to destroy a bridge. He said, “I led my squad, I was the first out, by the door of the plane ... flack was coming up all around us,” he hesitated and said, “ I saw one plane get hit and blown apart.“ He could not finish. He said his second combat jump was in daylight over Holland. Later on Dec. 17, he participated in the Battle of the Bulge. After the war he was a charter member of the 20th Special Forces of the Mississippi National Guard. He is the recipient of the second-highest medal Mississippi can give to a veteran, the Mississippi Magnolia Cross. Aldelchi was chosen to represent Mississippi in 2004 at the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Before he passed away on Sept. 9, 2016, he was honored by the City of Ocean Springs and dignitaries from Keesler Air Force Base at a special ceremony.