Sea Stories

Ronald “Frascona” Johnson (L) and Cornelious Fountano (R), StM 2/c boxing. USS. SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57) in Ulithi, February 1945. Frascona is bandaged from from a hot shell casing burn.

Ronald “Frascona” Johnson (L) and Cornelious Fountano (R), StM 2/c boxing. USS. SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57) in Ulithi, February 1945. Frascona is bandaged from from a hot shell casing burn.

“Smokers” were recreation nights. Wrestling, boxing, music and talent shows were held on the fantail. Sometimes other ships were invited to participate. The evening ended with a movie and ice cream.

“I do remember we fought smokers on our ships which included fighters from other ships, the USS WASHINGTON, and one aircraft carrier. When we had smokers on the fantail they would erect a ring that had a canvas stretched over the deck with some kind of padding under it.”

-Ron Joseph Frascona, Seaman 1/c


“After the smoker in February 1945, a steward mate by the name of Fountano came to Sick Bay with a terrible pain in his mid-section. Upon examination an emergency operation had to be performed to remove a ruptured appendix. The steward mate was sure he was going to die. He kept wanting to call every relative he had to tell them he was dying.”

-William L. Deaton, Hospital Apprentice 1/c



“In the ship’s mess hall they had a placed rigged up for us so we could punch the bags and box each other. I didn’t do any boxing in the ship boxing team but I used to box on the ship with different guys. I had boxed in the golden gloves before I went in. They wanted to know “You used to box?” I had just come aboard when they asked me this. I said, “Yes, I boxed a little.” They said, “Good. We have a marine on here who we want you to box.” Well, if you ever heard of them talk about Pavlich the marine that was on the battleship, six-foot-four, 290 pounds. Me only about five foot four, wanting to put me up against that guy. I wasn’t that dumb and said “I will think it over.” After I saw the guy I knew I didn’t want to box him. He would have pulverized me.

-Daniel Schroll, Gunner’s Mate 2/c


“One evening walking through the mess hall I observed the fellows working out and so I stood and watched for a while. Soon someone spoke up and said that a heavyweight in the group did not have anyone to spar with. I offered to put the gloves on with him and Petrone [coach] came over and asked I knew anything about boxing. Well, I assured him that I knew how to hold up my hands. We introduced ourselves and with that handshake we became friends. I married Petrone’s sister in December of 1945.”

-Charles Pavlich, Corporal, USMC


“We ran up and down ladders from deck to deck and then circled the ship from bow to stern numerous times. We skipped rope, punched the heavy and light bags, spared against each other without a real ring. There were only chalk marks on the steel deck of the mess hall. There were be two tenders in the make believe ring to catch anyone who might get hit hard enough to go down but we always pulled our punches.

I spared with SanFillippo for speed, Pavlich and Jenkins who both hit like mules, DeSantis for a fighter had fast hands. I remember Cullen would place a small ball in front of each fighter and as the ship rolled we had to catch the ball by shuffling our feet. He would tie either your left or right hand behind our back and we would spar with just one hand. When I boxed my left hook was my best punch.”

-Ron Joseph Frascona, Seaman 1/c