Pasquale Anthony Marzella was born on March 22, 1925. He came from a large family that lived in the Bronx, on Belmont Avenue and Fulton Avenue. Known as Pat to family and friends, he was in High School when World War Two started and had a job working at Howard Johnson’s in the Bronx.
Just before is 18th birthday, March 6, 1943 he enlisted in the Navy. He did his basic training in Sampson New York and then was sent to Radar Operator School in Virginia Beach. However, he would never serve as a Radar Operator.
After completing his training, he was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Yard, to join the crew of the newly commissioned aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Langley. On this ship he would serve out his enlistment during World War Two. Pat was quick to point out to people that he was on the second U.S.S. Langley. The first Langley had been sunk by a Japanese air attack in 1942. Pat would also proudly tell you how the predecessor to his Langley was the very first U.S. Aircraft Carrier from the United States and how it was converted from a World War One Cargo Ship.
The Langley that Pat served on had an esteemed career and he was proud of it. She engaged in the island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific that bypassed strongly-held islands to strike at the enemy’s weak points. As part of a task force commanded by Admiral Nimitz, the Langley would be one of the key targets for Japanese air and naval attacks. Planes from the U.S.S. Langley would support the fiercely opposed landings on Eniwetok, Kwajalein, Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Pat was assigned as a plane handler as his primary duty on the ship, requiring him to spend most of his time below deck in the hanger. But later, would step into the position of signalman, which involved being on the bridge of the ship during combat. In this roll he must have had a front row seat, for much of the action the ship was engaged in. There he experienced firsthand, the bombings, strafing’s and kamikaze attacks on his ship. During one attack, as he related in a story to his family, “a Japanese plane came so close he could see the “meatballs” painted on the wings”. Manning a machine gun, he emptied the belt. “It was like throwing rice at them [for all the effect it had].”, he said. He also saw attacks on other ships as well. Such as when the Carrier Bunker Hill was severely damaged during the Battle of Okinawa. The damage was so bad the crew was ordered to abandon ship. However, a skeleton crew saved the ship and it eventually made it to Subic Bay in the Philippines for repairs.
One of many other duties assigned to Pat was as a fireman. It was in this roll, that Pat witnessed a terrible scene, the result of a bomb hitting the forward end of the flight deck. As he described this event during an interview by Bell Middle School students his revulsion and sorrow were obvious. “Many men were killed and their bodies were burned beyond recognition”, he told the students. He and his crew had to remove those bodies.
Pat survived the war and was discharged from the Navy at Lido Beach Long Island on January 18, 1946. He returned to his home in the Bronx. Later he would move to Chappaqua and lived on Elm Street for many years. Here he raised his 3 children with his wife Mary. He worked for the town of New Castle, in the Parks and Recreation Department. He was one of the men who developed Gedney Park. For many years he faithfully marched in our town’s Memorial Day Ceremonies. Pat was always proud of his service and his country.
During his service he obtained the rank of Signalman 3rd Class. He also received the Pacific Campaign Medal with 10 stars, The Philippine Liberation Medal with 2 stars, As well as the American Theater and Victory Medals.
Pat Marzella, died on July 8, 2014. He was proceeded by his wife Mary by 2 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. Several of his sons, still live here in Chappaqua. His son Fred is a volunteer Fire Fighter in town.
After the war the U.S.S. Langley was decommissioned and then later transferred to the French Navy.
Research by: David L. Egerton
Story by: David L. Egerton
A personal Interview with Pat by the students of the Bell Middle School, Chappaqaua, NY, 2005.
An interview with Pat’s son, Fredrick Marzella, 2015.