Men of the 169th Infantry Regiment WWII: Staff Sergeant Vincenzo “Vincent” G. Pazzano.

Vincenzo Giovanni Pazzano (Vincent G. Pazzano) Service Number 33 244 459; born 31 July 1920 in Mammola, Italy

Vincenzo “Vincent” G. Pazzano was the son of Maria G. “Josephine” (Mauruni) and Domenico Pazzano. Domenico was born in Mammola 31 Oct 1885. On the 1930 Fed. Census, Domenico stated that he had immigrated in 1921. He visited Italy, probably to see family, then returned to the United States in Feb 1931. He traveled under passport #3I3747 and gave his address as 117 Vine, Harrisburg (directory for 1931-32 listed 119 Vine). He worked for Central Iron and Steel in Harrisburg for most of his life.

Maria Giuseppa (Murruni) Pazzano was born 9 Jan 1885 in Italy. She was the daughter of Bruno and Teresa (Papandrea) Murruni. In 1948, 63-year-old Maria went back to Italy to visit a daughter, Carmela Passano [Pazzano]. She returned to the United States on the SS Sobieski in February.

Seventeen year old Vincenzo Pazzano and his friend, Domenico Pietro, arrived in New York, USA on 11 Nov 1937, having sailed from Naples, Italy on 3 November abroad the Italian liner SS Rex.
U.S. Army Air Corps YB-17 Flying Fortresses fly alongside SS Rex, 620 nautical miles east of Sandy Hook, 12 May 1938. (Photograph by Major George W. Goddard, U.S. Army Air Corps) https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Photos/igphoto/2000484510/

SS Rex: Built by Societa Anonima Ansaldo, Sestri, Genoa, Italy, 1932. 51,062 gross tons; 833 (bp) feet long; 97 feet wide. Steam Quadruple Expansion engines, quadruple screw. Service speed 28 knots. 18,686 passengers Passenger-refrigerated cargo vessel. Crew of 810.
Vincent was living at 125 or 127 Washington, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with the family of Domenico Mazzoni, who stated on his military documents that he, too, was born in Mammola. Domenico Mazzoni followed Vincent into military service.
By 1942, when Vincent registered for the draft, he was living at 1201 Wallet Street, Harrisburg.

Vincent worked as the assistant cook in the kitchen of the Alva Hotel & Restaurant on 4th Street in Harrisburg. Alva Hotel & Restaurant remained in business from early 1900s into the 1980s.

New Americans

For generations of American immigrants, their path to the American Dream was filled with extreme fear, uncertainty and physical hardship. Vincent’s path was common. Young able-bodied men and women first had to make enough, or work off, the cost of the transatlantic crossing. The majority came through the famous Gateway to America, Ellis Island, New York. Some made the journey into their new home with nothing more than an address of a distant relative in their pocket. Vincent was lucky. His father came to America in 1921 and it appears from records the rest of the family arrived piecemeal in the following years.

USS Princess Matoika (1919). Originally a German ship, the vessel was seized in 1917 and renamed Princess Matoika. She was used as a troop transport through the war and then returned to passenger service in 1920. For one year, including the trip from Italy to Massachusetts carrying Vincent’s father, Domenico Pazzano ((4 April 1921), she belonged to the United States Mail Steamship Company.
On the 1930 Federal Census, nine years after his arrival, Domenico was still lodging with another family and working as a laborer in a quarry. His wife, “Maria” does not appear in Pennsylvania records until 1936.

Across the nation, the largest group to oppose Prohibition was first-generation immigrants. They had come from cultures where wine and other alcoholic beverages had been custom and courtesy since they were old enough to pick up a cup by themselves.

The Harrisburg Telegraph (PA) 30 Nov 1932.

Postcards appeared in the 1920-30s which depicted Walnut Street (the area where Vincent resided before his military service) as bright, colorful, and very modern. The reality was a little less utopian.

The 1930s brought many forms of economic and natural disasters – such as the “St. Patrick’s Day Flood” of 1936.

Vincent Pazzano Goes to War

Pazzano was among the 78 men inducted into the army on 7 Nov 1942 from the Harrisburg Sel. Serv. Board. He was living at 1201 Walnut St. according to the paper.

The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA) Monday 9 Nov 1942.

New Cumberland Army Reception Center, near Harrisburg (1941-45); The first stop on the long trek to becoming soldiers.

Photo: Pennsylvania State Archives.

Pazzano took the opportunity provided by his service to obtain his U.S. citizenship. He was in training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia – 23 February 1943 – at the time.

After basic training, Vincent departed the USA for overseas duty on 4 Apr 1943. He arrived in New Caledonia 21 Apr 1943. Vincent was assigned to Company E, 169th Infantry Regiment, 43rd Inf. Div. Vincent’s highest earned rank was Staff Sergeant. He was awarded the Combat Infantry  Badge 10 Feb 1944. He fought in the New Guinea, Northern Solomons and Luzon landings and campaigns. As was common among American soldiers and marines, Vincent contracted Malaria during his time in the Pacific. Although trained and operating as a basic infantrymen for the early campaigns, Vincent spent his last months in the Pacific Theater as the Mess Sergeant (this was probably when he was transferred to Company K). Prior to transfer, he had seen enough combat to earn the Bronze Star Medal. Other awards include the Good Conduct Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one bronze star, WWII Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal with three bronze stars and one bronze arrowhead. He departed overseas duty 29 Sep and landed in the United States on 8 Oct 1945. Vincent was honorably discharged 20 Oct 1945 at Indiantown Gap, PA. For more on the 169th at Luzon: The 43rd Inf. Div.’s Luzon Campaign.

(Photo: 169th at Luzon)

After the war, Vincent married Yolanda Gullini. Vincent returned to his favored occupation of cook in Harrisburg. He visited his birthplace of Italy, as a tourist, leaving New York harbor 28 Apr 1950 aboard the SS Nea Hellas. Leaving the Port of Naples 23 Jul 1950 he arrived back in the United States aboard the SS Neptunia 5 Aug 1950. Vincent G Pazzano died 18 Nov 1965 in Harrisburg, PA.

Links to More 169th’s stories

For further reading on the 169th: The History of the 43rd Infantry Division 1941-1945.