Robert Gentile helped to save Ralph E. Sethness from burning and explosion, Westerly, Rhode Island, October 24, 1943. While Sethness, 28, military pilot, was flying an airplane that carried ammunition for machine guns, the airplane crashed and lay on brush-covered ground. Gentile, 28, lineman, and Benjamin B. York ran more than a quarter of a mile to Sethness, who seriously injured lay inert on the ground within four feet of the airplane and eight feet from flames that enveloped the nose and rose 25 feet above it. Occasional reports of machine-gun ammunition were heard. Gentile and York carried Sethness to a point 50 feet from the airplane. An explosion then occurred, throwing burning gasoline to a point within 25 feet of them. Ammunition exploded with rapidity; and Gentile and York dropped to the ground, Gentile being on his knees on top of Sethness. Two minutes later ammunition explosions being less frequent and heat becoming unbearable, Gentile and York carried Sethness 50 feet farther. Ten minutes later members of a crash crew from an airport arrived, and Sethness was taken to a hosiptal. He sustained serious injuries but recovered. 40099-3392
40099 – 339240099-3392
Robert C. Gentile, of Westerly, R.I., died on May 25, 1993. Gentile was born on Jan. 22, 1911, in Westerly to Pasquale and Bettina (Nigrelli) Gentile.
He was employed at the Narragansett Electric Co. for 38 years, retiring in 1973 as a general foreman.
The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission recognized Gentile and a friend with the Carnegie Medal for helping to save a 28-year-old military pilot from burning after a plane crash at a Westerly golf course on Oct. 24, 1943.
Gentile and the friend rushed to the crash site, finding the plane, which carried ammunition for machine guns, in flames. The men carried the pilot to safety.
Gentile was an avid golfer, fisherman and gardener. He attended the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Westerly.
He was buried at St. Sebastian Cemetery in Westerly.
(Edited from an obituary published by The Day in New London, Conn.)