Walter F. Mazzone, a top SEALAB officer, dies at 96

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SEALAB Author Ben H.

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Walter F. Mazzone, a top SEALAB officer, Jan. 19, 1918 - Aug. 7, 2014. Please see the obituary I've posted on my website to learn a bit more about this remarkable American, who of course figures prominently in my book, SEALAB. Captain Mazzone played a critical role in the U.S. Navy project and in the development of saturation diving. He is pictured here in the early 1960s. Walter F. Mazzone, a top SEALAB officer, Dies at 96 | SEALAB ? A book by Ben Hellwarth
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Akimbo

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Wow, 96. I hope is last years were happy.

I have a re-print of a rendering of a PTC (diving bell) that hung in his office at the sub base in San Diego. It was stored in the back of a closet and was given to me when it was being cleaned out. I thought it was a cool image until I looked on the back and saw his name. It is in a cheap thin black frame but I never wanted to re-frame it knowing it hung in his office.
 

Sam Miller III

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I first became aware of Dr. Mazzone in the early 1950's, possibly in the mid 1950s.

At that time he as a Lieutenant in the USN MC and had just authored a ASTI report on dive fin performance. This was the very first effort to determine the effectiveness of various dive fins

I later met him very briefly at an LA Co Underwater Instructors Association after Sea Lab. At that time we were all referring to
"The man in the sea program" as "The man on the dock program," due to the demise of Barry Canon.

The diving world owes so much to this great man


SDM
 

Sam Miller III

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[h=1]Capt. Walter Francis Mazzone
[/h]
1918 - 2014



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Capt. Walter Francis Mazzone USN (ret), passed away peacefully at his home in San Diego on August 7, 2014 at the age of 96. Born in San Jose, Calif., on January 19, 1918, to Frank and Pearl Mazzone, Walt graduated from San Jose High School in June 1936. He attended San Jose State University where he boxed and played football, graduating in June 1941. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Walt enlisted in the Navy in August 1942. Walt completed two war patrols on USS PUFFER (SS 268). During his first war patrol, PUFFER survived more than 30 hours of depth charging, the longest in submarine history. Walt transferred to USS CREVALLE (SS 291), completing five more war patrols. One patrol involved a classified mission to the Island of Negros in the Philippines to retrieve documents vital to the war effort as well as the rescue of 40 individuals who had been hiding from the Japanese. For his service in World War II, Walt received the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V. In November 1945, Walt returned to California to attend the University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy. He met and dated Lucie Margaret Oldham, a school teacher and proposed in May 1946. They were married on June 29, 1946. Walt graduated from USC in June 1948 with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree and worked at his uncle's pharmacy in San Jose, Calif. Their only child, Robert, was born in March 1949. Recalled to active duty in Nov. 1950, Walt was sent to Yokosuka, Japan and assigned to the Navy hospital. Upon his return to California, Walt was transferred to the Pharmacy Procurement Division, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1957, Walt was transferred to the Naval Medical Research Laboratory (NMRL) in New London, Conn. Walt joined with DR George Bond in efforts to enhance Navy Diving capabilities. Their efforts culminated in a series of manned chamber dives which proved the theory of Saturation diving and led to the Navy's Man in the Sea Program. This program involved open ocean dives which were known as SEALAB I and SEALAB II. As Project Officer for these challenging dives, he was responsible for the divers' safety and they affectionately referred to him as "Uncle Walt." Walt was awarded two Legions of Merit for the successful accomplishment of these dives proving that man could live and work underwater. Walt was also involved in efforts to improve escape from sunken submarines. Working closely with Lt. Harris Steinke to develop a new submarine escape device, Cmdr. Mazzone and Lt. Steinke successfully escaped from the USS BALAO (SS 285) submerged at a depth of 318 feet, a record at that time. Walt retired from the Navy in June 1970, and returned to San Diego where he and Lucie moved into their dream home overlooking Mission Bay. Walt worked at the Ocean Systems Center in Point Loma, Calif., for the next 10 years, then left government service to work at Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as a Program Manager until his retirement in 2002 at the age of 84. After retiring from the Navy, Walt and Lucie traveled extensively, including several cross country trips in their motor coach. They were members of the Family Motor Coach Association and Walt became well- known for parking motorhomes at these events taking special delight helping those with physical challenges. Walt was a true Renaissance Man. He attended Harvard from 1963 to 1964 earning his Master's in Public Health. He also taught himself how to repair antique clocks, learned to play the guitar and piano, and became fluent in Japanese. However, Walt found his true passion in Stained Glass projects and his Stained Glass Submarine Dolphins and Diving Officer Insignias became legendary. While he had fun making various glass projects, his greatest joy was watching the reaction of those who received them. Walt was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Lucie, who passed away in October 2012 after 66 years of marriage. He is survived by his son and his wife, Capt. Robert and Nancy Mazzone USN (ret), of Escondido, Calif., two grandchildren and their spouses, Margaret Pearl and William Clifford of North Hampton, N.H., and Michael Robert and Ashley Mazzone of Bristol, R.I., and five great-grandchildren Caroline Clifford, Josephine Clifford, Annabelle Clifford, Elias Mazzone and Callen Mazzone. He is also survived by his two sisters-in-law, Mary Schaffer and Sue Anderson, both of Los Angeles, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Walt was a humble and quiet man who lived life to the fullest and believed that the greatest joy was achieved in helping others. He will be greatly missed. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Torrey Pines Christian Church in La Jolla, Calif., at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Man in the Sea Museum, 17314 Panama City Beach Pkwy, Panama City Beach, Fla.


Published in U-T San Diego on Aug. 17, 2014



- See more at: Capt. Walter Francis Mazzone Obituary: View Walter Mazzone's Obituary by U-T San Diego
 

Bob DBF

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Received this in my e Mail today.
One of our submarine heroes, as well as a diving pioneer.
Click on photos for larger size.


Bud Cunnally
To International Submariners
Today at 10:01 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/u...0140827&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=66203856&_r=0

Walter Mazzone Last of the USS Crevalle (SS291) Wardroom Dies at 96; Directed Navy Underwater Feats
By PAUL VITELLOAUG. 26, 2014
Inside
Photo
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Capt. Walter F. Mazzone in the foreground with Capt. George F. Bond as they prepared to visit Sealab II off California in 1965. Credit U.S. Navy
Capt. Walter F. Mazzone played a pivotal role in two underwater Navy exploits during the 20th century. In World War II, he kept a waterlogged submarine from going belly up while it was carrying 40 Americans rescued from the Philippines. Twenty years later he helped organize the first Sealab tests of human endurance at crushing ocean depths — conducting the first tests on himself — which established the deepwater diving protocols still used by military and commercial divers today.
Captain Mazzone, who died on Aug. 7 at 96 in San Diego, was considered one of the Navy’s most exacting detail men in the underwater realm — where a millimeter’s leak, a workaday tangle and a molecule-size mistake are life-or-death matters.
On submarines, Captain Mazzone (pronounced mah-ZOH-nee) was the diving officer, in charge of taking the sub down, surfacing it and keeping it on an even keel when under attack. On Sealab experiments, he was the life-support man — helping divers descend hundreds of feet, stay below for weeks at a time and come back alive through a method he helped develop called “saturation diving.”
Photo
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Captain Mazzone Credit U.S. Navy
The submarine rescue was kept secret during the war, and remained relatively little known afterward.
In May 1944, the Navy ordered his sub, the Crevalle, to surface just off the Japanese-held Philippine island of Negros, where it was to pick up two cargoes ferried out to it by Philippine resistance fighters. The first was a cache of Japanese battle plans they had captured; the second was the group of 40 Americans, many of them missionaries, including 28 women and children, who had been in hiding on the island since the beginning of the war.
Before reaching Australia 10 days later, the Crevalle’s commander, Francis D. Walker, spotted a Japanese convoy and, despite the danger it posed to his passengers, moved closer to attack. The Crevalle was spotted by the Japanese, who attacked first, damaging and partly flooding the sub.
With the sub listing, Captain Mazzone kept it under control for five hours as it maneuvered to escape while under almost continuous attack, according to an official account cited in a 2001 book, “The Rescue: A True Story of Courage and Survival in World War II,” by Steven Trent Smith.
Captain Mazzone, who was awarded the Silver Star and other medals, left the Navy after the war but rejoined it in the late 1950s to work with Capt. George F. Bond and others on research that would become the backbone of the Navy’s Sealab project.
In 1962, the team launched the 57-foot-long sausage-shaped underwater chamber known as Sealab I, which upended the conventional wisdom that, even with oxygen tanks, divers could not survive at a depth of more than 150 feet for more than a half-hour. The four divers in Sealab I remained at a depth of 192 feet for 11 days.
Captain Bond, a medical doctor, had pioneered the technique that made it possible: saturation diving, which virtually rewrote the chemistry of human respiration and temporarily transformed human divers into marine mammals.
The method involved replacing the sea-level mix of air (about 80 percent nitrogen and 20 percent oxygen) with a different mix (90 percent helium and 10 percent or less of oxygen) that could sustain human life underwater at great depths.
Captain Mazzone organized experiments showing that animals and humans (he was one of the first to try) could breathe the helium-oxygen mix and that divers (he was again one of the first testers) could acclimate to it in hyperbaric chambers. Sealab II, launched in 1965, kept crews at a depth of 205 feet for weeks at a time.
In 1969, the Sealab project was terminated after a Navy diver died while helping to fix a leak on the maiden mission of Sealab III, which was anchored at a depth of 600 feet off San Clemente Island in California. The cause was traced to an improperly filled air tank.
Ben Hellwarth, author of the 2012 history “Sealab: America’s Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor,” said that Mr. Mazzone was not in charge of preparations for Sealab III, and that things might have been different if he had been.
From the late 1950s to 1969, Captain Mazzone was a detail-obsessed overseer of the Sealab project. Crewmen called him Uncle Walter, Mr. Hellwarth said.
“Neither the Navy nor Dr. Bond would have gotten anywhere without Mazzone,” he said. “He was the anchor of the whole project.”
Walter Francis Mazzone was born in San Jose, Calif., on Jan. 18, 1918, the only child of Frank and Pearl Mazzone, immigrants from Italy. His mother was a department-store sales clerk, and his father worked in canneries. Mr. Mazzone had earned a degree in biological and physical sciences from San Jose State University and intended to go to medical school when World War II began in 1941. The Navy sent him to submariner school.
He reprised his role in the Crevalle rescue in August 1944, when, again as the diving officer, he safely maneuvered the submarine Puffer during a 30-hour attack by Japanese destroyers.
Captain Mazzone received a degree in pharmacology at the University of Southern California in 1948. While working on the Sealab project, he received a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. He retired from the Navy in 1970.
He is survived by a son, Robert, a retired Navy captain, who confirmed his death; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His wife, Lucie Margaret Oldham Mazzone, died in 2012.
 
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