Naples Naval Air Facility
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In Dec of 1955 to Dec 1957, the Marine Detachment with Capt. Francis Gore as CO, was made up of two platoons. One platoon was in downtown Naples with living quarters at the Albergo Grilli, which was near Piazza Garibaldi. Sometime during the early 1956, this platoon was moved from the Grilli to the Albergo Tricarico in Bagnoli. This was right on the waterfront looking out into the bay of Naples.
The second platoon was based at Allied Forces Southern Europe. This was a NATO subordinate command under NATO Hq. in Paris. At that time it was a six nation command comprised of USA, England, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and France. Later in 1956, Fasron 77, which was at Cappodichino Airport was upgraded to a Naval Air Facility. This meant at that time that it required Marine Security and so a third platoon was formed.
At the same time Mardet was upgraded to a Marine Barracks and we received Lt. Col. Kelsey as our new CO and Major Victor DiFrank as our XO. Capt. McCarthy and 1st. Lt. Modjeski were with us also. It has also been mentioned by the troops that a 1st Lt. Reina was a mustang and very highly thought of by all the enlisted men.
At the air facility, during the same time period, there were two Navy units there. One was VR 24 which was actually out of Port Lyautey, French Morocco and the other was VP 62 which was an aerial recon unit and they only had one jet. It was however a great place to be because the chow was excellent. The cooks did not have too many people to cook for, as most of the Navy personnel were brown baggers. Many remembered a guy that was a pastry baker that could bake cream pies like no place else. They were known to be absolutely delicious !
The facility itself was Navy and so the provost mashall was Lt. Pugh a Navy Lt. JG during the late 50's. He had a navy enlisted SP ( the only one on the base ) by the name of Anthony Mazzaferro who held the rank of seaman as Master-at-arms.
Additionally the main gate was manned by one Marine sentry, One Carabinieri, and one Italian AF airpoliceman. VR 24 was flying R5D's that had leaky fuel tanks and so when they landed, their tanks were not topped off for this reason.. If they would have, there would have been high octane fuel all over the ramp and the planes still would have had empty tanks.
Cappodichino was a civil airport and all the European airlines flew in and out daily. There were also many F-84 Thunderjets that were being transferred over to the Italian Air Force that were still in our hands. Comfairelm was located on Piazza Municipio and CSCN/CHSA was around the corner just off of Via Medina. CSCN/CHSA stood for Commander Subordinate, Commander Northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. The Ships Store was at the ESSO Compound, and also had another post at GSK which was a warehouse where the Ships Store merchandise was stored.
Headquarters was moved from Via Medina in downtown Naples to Via Manzoni. Prior to this at Bagnoli, they had posts at Bldg. L, Bldg. O, Bldg P and in addition, in the daytime, there was a sentry at the back door to Bldg. O. In 1955, Bagnoli also had security at the main gate, but this was turned over to the Air Police as they were upset because they only had one post and that was at Bldg. Q. It was known to be odd that the Air Police were not bearing arms at all. The Marines were the only ones at Bagnoli bearing arms except for the Carabinieri. It was thought to be due to the Status of Forces Treaty which was in effect at the time. It was told, at one point, that in the bunkers in back of Bldg. O, they had a substantial amount of weapons in addition to what we had in our barracks and in the armory at Via Medina. Last, but not least, there was a post in the port area in the Guggenheim Bldg. It was said that the most exciting post of all was to be the NCO at Bldg. O. On this post, there were times when you could get to see some really prominent people there.
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