TEC5 Clement Louis Gillio was born to Italian immigrant parents, August and Angelina (Benedino) Gillio, in Oglesby, Illinois, on 12 October 1916. Clement’s father, August Gillio, had come to the United States at age 21 to join his older brother Antonio. It’s unclear where August first settled upon arriving. However, in Pontiac, Illinois, in 1906, August Gillio married Angelina Benedino, a young lady from his hometown of Cascinette, Italy,
By 1910, August and his wife were living in Oglesby, Illinois, and August was supporting his family by working in the coal mine. In 1920 when Clement was three, the Gillio family had grown to include Clement and his two brothers Carlo and Anton and his two sisters Orseleno and Caroline. Their father had changed jobs and was working as a laborer in the clay pits with his brother Louis Gillio who had immigrated four years earlier. August and Angelina had also managed to buy a home at 304 Clark street in Oglesby. Over the next seven years, Clement would welcome two more siblings: August Jr. and Elizabeth.
In 1929 when Clement was a young teen, tragedy struck his family when his older brother Carlo succumbed to a heart condition and died at the age of 15. The loss of Carlo added to the heartbreak Clement’s parents had experienced over the years with the loss of two other children who had died as infants.
On 16 October 1940, Clement registered for the draft which had been recently imposed in response to the war raging across Europe. At the time 24 years old, Clement Gillio stood 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, weighed 155 pounds, and had brown eyes and hair.
In March 1942, Clement officially enlisted in the U.S. Army at Peoria, Illinois. He was then assigned to Company C of the 325th Glider Infantry which was part of the 82nd Airborne Division. His unit arrived in the European Theater of Operations on 9 December 1943. The next year they were preparing for the invasion of France and what would become known as D-Day. For this mission, the 325th Glider Infantry with 172 gliders was assigned to Force B. Their orders were to land on D-Day plus one and proceed to the Ste. Mere Eglise-Blossville Road in France.
On June 7th, the gliders arrived on the continent. However, it was estimated 7.5 percent were lost due to crash landings. The next day TEC5 Gillio’s company was ordered to cross the Merderet River near La Fiere. They successfully accomplished this task. However, the next day on the 9th, as they moved to the La Fiere bridge, they experienced heavy enemy fire. TEC5 Clement Gillio was reported killed in action on this day.
TEC5 Clement Gillio was initially laid to rest in a temporary grave. After the end of the war in 1948, his body was repatriated to the United States and reinterred in St. Vincent Cemetery in LaSalle, Illinois. In recognition of his bravery and service, he posthumously received several medals, including the Army Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the American Campaign Medal. While he may have been eligible for the Purple Heart, no record could be found to confirm its award.
Clement Gillio’s legacy stands alongside those of his brothers, Anton and August, who also served in World War II, and his cousin, Batista Gillio, who gave his life in service just days before Clement’s own sacrifice. Their stories serve as a lasting tribute to the courage and dedication of the young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country during one of the most challenging periods in history.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
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- SBTS Historian Pam Broviak
- 1910 U.S. Census, August Gillio, Ancestry.
- 1920 U.S. Census, Augustine Gillio, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, August Gillio, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, August Gillio, Ancestry.
- “New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” August Gillio, line 12, SS La Lorraine, 8 Nov 1902, Ancestry.
- “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” Augustine Gillio and Angiolina Benedino, 15 Apr 1906, FamilySearch.
- “Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947,” August Gillio Jr., Ancestry.
- “U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947,” Clement Louis Gillio, Ancestry.
- Ridgway, Matthew B., “Eighty Second Airborne Division, Operation “Neptune”, Normandy 6 June – 8 July 1944.”