It was Sunday December 19, 1953. I was a SN in the 3rd. Division aboard the
New Port News. We were in the Portsmouth Naval ship yard, and were scheduled to bring ammunition
aboard the next day, Monday December 20.
It was one of those lazy Sunday's. We were all in good spirits looking forward to going home
for the Xmas holidays, on Wednesday December 22. After the noon meal we decided to make preparations
for the loading of the ammunition. SN Joseph Mizer, SN Thomas Botti, SN Louis Machicote, SN Frank
De Salvo, and SN Richard Gagnon are some of the mates that I can remember being part of the crew
that was mustered to make the preparations. No doubt there might have been others.
We would be using an electric hoist on turret number three to load the powder kegs and the
projectiles to be put inside the turret, to be stored in the magazines. While hooking up the hoist
the cable on the hoist snapped and the motor fell from above the turret, striking Balzano on his
side fracturing his ribs and puncturing his lungs.
There was no blood so none present knew the gravity of his injury. The ship with the Doctor on
duty was near by and a helicopter brought him aboard in a very short time. The Doctor came aboard
and pronounces him dead. It was a great shock to all of us.
When I came aboard the News there were two coffins stored in the hanger deck. None of us gave a
thought that one of us would some day be in one of them. His Body was shipped to New York, accompanied
by SA Richard Gagnon for burial in St. Raymond cemetery in the Bronx. He was buried with military
honors on Saturday December 26, 1953.
It has been some fifty-one years since my good friend passed away in death, yet I can still
remember him as if it was yesterday. Scanz was his nick name. He was white and I am black, but we
had a lot in common. We both were born in 1934 and both of us came from New York. There was a special
bond between us. but it wasn't only with me, all the other mates felt the same way about him as I did.
For the younger folks who might read this information. In these days It would be quite hard to
imagine a black or African American sailor riding the Gray Hound or Trail ways bus from Norfolk
Virginia to New York and can't find a place to eat or a rest room to relieve himself. That is the
way it was in the 50's. There was five of us who would make that trip back and forth. Thomas Botti,
Frank De Salvo, Louis Machicote, Joseph Balzano, and me. My good friend Scanz would be there to bring
my food to the bus for me to eat, and with his jovial personality he would help me to forget the
terrible conditions. I am an old man now and my memory is beginning to fail me, yet I don't think that
I will ever forget my good friend Joseph V.(Scanz) Balzano, a young man who at the tender age of
nineteen, lost his life while serving his country. What a tragic lost of life.
May God Bless his family and give them comfort. Romans 15:4
Edwin Braithwaite, BM3 3rd Division, 1952-1955