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This Page is dedicated to Frank THOMAS Panza, SIGNALMAN AT USS Somers - DD 381


 Young Frank Panza when aboard the USS Somers

Picture shows German prisoners offloaded at Recife following their capture by USS Somers.

Signalman Frank Panza lived the most dramatic moments during the World War II aboard the newly launched Destroyer Somers in shark infested waters of the South Atlantic. Participated in numerous actions against German and Italian submarines in the so called hunter killer groups that went after the footprints of Blockade runners, German cargo ships that carried cargo of raw materials vital to Germany and tried to break through the blockade of the strait between Natal and Dakar.

One of them the Weserland brought thousands of rubber bales that were rescued one by one after the sinking of the ship by her own crew to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. The story of the young sailor Panza is immortalized on this page dedicated to it with the help of his son Jim Panza. That the eternal flame of remembrance be always lit for him.

Frank Panza by his son Jim Panza.

“My dad was born on September 16, 1922 in New York City. He lived in the upper Manhattan neighborhood called "Inwood". His parents were immigrants from Italy arriving in the U.S. between 1911-1918. Before he joined the Navy he worked on an "Ice" truck...delivering ice for iceboxes in the Bronx and Manhattan. He entered the Navy in August 1942, and went to boot camp at Newport, Rhode Island.

After boot camp he was immediately assigned to the Somers in November 1942. While on Somers he was initially a deckhand, but eventually became a Signalman, who was assigned to the bridge of the ship. He was with the 4th fleet at Recife for approximately 1 1/2 years until Somers was sent to Europe for the Normandy and Southern France Invasions. Returning to the States in November 1944 he was assigned to another destroyer, the Bausell, which was stationed in San Diego California, where he was later discharged from the Navy.

After leaving the Navy he returned home to New York, married my mother, Geraldine, and had seven children...3 girls and four boys. He went to work as a bartender in a neighborhood bar called the "Tally Ho"....where he worked until he died of a heart attack while visiting family in California at age 49, on August 23, 1972.

He spoke little of his experience in the war, but what he did say was that the happiest time of his life was when he was in the Navy, and on board Somers. He did talk about his time in Recife and had nothing but good things to say about his experiences there."



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