USS O Bannon (DD450), Fletcher Class Destroyer, Tin Can Sailor. "They went to hell and back."
The Fletcher Class Destroyers were a class of destroyer built by the US Navy during WWII. The U.S. Navy commissioned 175 Fletcher Class Destroyers from 1942 to 1944 built in shipyards across our country. After the war they were sold to many countries who actually fought against us including; Italy, Germany, Japan, as well as other world navies. This was where the Fletchers gave them long distinctive careers. Several others were canceled before being laid down by the fact that the U.S. had seen the wars end in sight.
The Fletcher Class Destroyer was named after Admiral Frank F. Fletcher. The largest class of destroyers ever ordered by the U.S. Along with being the most successful class of destroyers ordered, they were also the most popular among the men who served on them.
A total of 19 Fletcher Class Destroyers were lost during WWII. Six were damaged so bad that repairing them would be senseless. Post-war decommissioned the balance that were left. The Korean War brought back 39 of the decommissioned WWII era Fletchers and all 39 were refitted and updated to the 1950's navy. After Korea the 39 Fletchers went back in the navy's reserve and in the 70's no more Fletcher Class Destroyers were on any of the navy's active fleet list. The last Fletcher Class Destroyer, the USS John Rodgers, (not commissioned as a naval ship, sailed it's last cruise in 2001 serving six decades.)
These are the remaining Fletcher Class Destroyers that remain:
USS Cassin Young DD793 located in Boston
USS The Sullivans DD537 located in Buffalo
USS Kidd DD661 located in Baton Rouge, La.
HMS Velos D16 sold as a museum for Mexico
The Fletcher Class Destroyer was replaced by the Allen Summer Class Destroyer
Awards and Citations - O Bannon DD450
Legion of Merit
Presidential Unit Citation (2)
American Area Campaign
European African Middle East
Angelo's Duties on DD450
Naval Duties: deck force area after part of the super structure did duties as painting, chipping, and keeping this new naval vessel the pride of the tin can fleet.
Other jobs held: Botswain and Coxswain
Angelo A. Zanghi was born to Joseph and Mary (Nicosia) Zanghi on Aug. 10, 1920 in their Lafayette Street home in Silver Creek. His father was a railroad maintenance foreman which required him to move to different job locations. With all this moving Zanghi explained the different schools that he attended before his naval career was to start. He started kindergarten in Brocton, then to Angola, then back to Brocton. He recalled that his school years consisted of kindergarten starting in Brocton. Then a one room school in 1925 for the next three years, then off to Angola High and finally finishing his high school days in 1936? I had asked him if he recalled the location of the one room school house and he could not only remember he also stated he revisited that one room school last year. Zanghi said the school house he attended in 1925 is now a family home on Brant Road in Angola.
Zanghi came from a family of ten children, but he stated the first two were twins, a brother and sister that had died at birth. With the family of eight children, Angelo being the fourth one born. The Zanghi family children included Joe, now 92-years-old, Sam, 86; John, 84; Russell, 80, the baby; Lucy, 88. Brother Tony and Sister Frances had passed away. His dad passed away at the age of 72, but his mother died one day before her 94th birthday.
During the depression work was all but impossible to find. Most of the days were spent playing pinochle with close friends; Carlo Nasca, Mike Nicosa and Nick Paternosto. Zanghi did luck out and find work as a contractor's helper with Crocker Carpenter and Skeiler from Buffalo. He worked on putting concrete tanks for Fruit Co and National Grape Corp. This job paid 20 cents per hour. After this job he found another job as a labeler putting on labels for the National Grape Corp. in Brocton. Zanghi asked for a five-cent raise after he worked here for awhile but was denied this raise. He decided he needed to try something different.
Pearl Harbor came and Zanghi had used his father's car to drive to the Buffalo Post Office on Washington and Swan and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. When I asked him why he joined the navy instead of the marines he stated he always loved watching the movie Anchor's Away!
While all signed up and ready to get started in boot camp Zanghi recalled being delayed one more day in Buffalo because Eleanor Roosevelt and the president of Argentina were in Buffalo and wanted to review and thank all the new enlistees. At that time that was a big thing to be part of.
His route to boot camp via the railroad took him first to Providence, Rhode Island. A few weeks later Zanghi was in New Port. The reason he was here was that in 1942 the navy was building destroyers at a record pace and each one demanded a qualified crew to send them off in harms way. In Zanghi's case he was headed for this new Fletcher Class Destroyer called the O Bannon. His three week boot camp consisted of training, message running and the last one in sick bay. The reason he spent his last week of boot camp week in sick bay was he got a blister from all the marching and message running. Sick bay is a compartment in a ship used for medical purposes, the ship's hospital. Absolutely no training being assigned to any kind of a naval ship.
While in sick bay he was given the information from some close buddies that went through training with him. His new Fletcher Class Destroyer was being given a crew. His friends were on the new ships crew list. They informed Zanghi that he was omitted because being in sick bay, he couldn't be assigned sea duty. Zanghi pleaded with the doctor to release him so he could be added to this new Fletcher Class Destroyer. The doctor said, "No way." Zanghi stated that he begged and begged. Finally the doctor released him so he could be assigned to be with his friends. This was one of Zanghi's happiest days of his life.
He was then shipped off to Boston for shakedown training. On June 8, 1942 the O Bannon was commissioned and was now ready to sail into harms way and join our pacific fleet. She was commissioned with 375 sailors and 30 officers. The first captain was a WWI sailor with alot of naval experience. The ship took on supplies then headed for Quantano Bay during this time all her guns were tested on various naval target areas. She then headed for the Panama Canal with the bow headed for our naval group in Bora Bora.
After the war Zanghi came home and he joined the Nat Grape Corp. A few years later he landed a job with New York Central Railroad in the signal department in Astabula, Ohio. He actually lived in a railroad car while on special signal job mainly installing safety and signal gate crossing devices.
Zanghi retired after 27 years with A.J. Wells. Each day he still wakes up at 5:30 a.m. He loves spending his retirement cooking, gardening and watching Yankee baseball.
Married Nov. 26, 1953 Patricia (McCloskey) Zanghi
Children: Mark, Joseph, Stephen, Thomas and Mary Ann DePasquale.
Grandchildren: Matthew, Jeremy, Philip, Robert, Jennifer, James, Alex, Brian and his wife, Corinne
Great Grandchildren: Alyssa and Kaelyn
Angelo A. Zanghi is a 90-year-old sailor who still lives the war years each and every day. He has a strong love for that ship. One of 175 that were built to be used as targets and decoys for our bigger and then seemed more important battleships and aircraft carriers. The tin can sailor and the destroyer put in front to be the first to catch that torpedo or out in the outer circle to slow down that kamikaze pilot.
The Fletcher Class sailor went to hell and back, what more can be said. There are many movies about aircraft carriers, submarines and battleships, but not many about the destroyer that is why this one is needed to be written. That's why Angelo Zanghi is our local hero.