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 Author  Topic: Francis Napolillo
Frank J Andruss Sr


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PT-35 of which Francis Napolillo was a crew member had hit a submerged object ( fishing trap) while patrolling near Apo Island. Damage was from a large hole ripped into her bow with water pouring into the forward compartments. Crew worked to contain the flooding using hand pumps and buckets. Skipper Akers continued with the patrol, which was to pick up President Quezon. PT-35 could no longer contain the water from rushing in and the crew was transferred to PT-41. They arrived in Oroquieta City on the North Coast of Mindanao on March 19, 1942. The exact location of PT-35 was unknown and she was thought to have drifted ashore on Negros. The boat did not sink and was partially flooded. She would make her way to Cebu City for repairs. They would take her to Opan Shipbuilding to be pulled from the water by the marine railway for hull repairs, run by Dad Cleland. Before this the crew of the 35 Napollilo included were transferred to land duties living in native huts near the beach, before moving inland to work with the Army, some in Motor pools, some were helping to build bases for PBY planes should they land at Lake Lanao. With the 35 boat ready for action Bulkeley had to assemble a composite crew from the 34 and 41 boats as the original crew had already been transferred ashore at Mindanao, This is when Henry Brantingham became Skipper of the 35 boat. According to the new book Under a Blood Red Sun, PT-35 was set on fire and burned to prevent capture while the boat was out of the water at Opan Shipbuilding. Lt. Henry Brantingham set the fire himself along with the charges to blow her up.
Napolillo according to orders that are typed and dated December 16, 1942 and headed US Forces in the Philippines Headquarters Mindanao- Visayan Force, he unassigned is attached to the Motor Transport Company in Mindanao. At this time he is a 2ndLieut. These orders are signed by WW Fertig Brigadier Gen. This is an in field promotion with the Army and would only would only be advanced if Napolillo were to stay in the army, but he chose to go back with the Navy after the Philippines.
Napolillo receives a written letter from General Headquarters that he is relived of his duties from the Motor Transport Co Philippines and is reassigned to a Radio Station Philippines. Dated February 26, 1943
In a letter dated September 28, 1943 and signed by Captain Robert V Ball and typed on paper with the heading UNITED STATES FORCES IN THE PHILIPPINES FORCE RADIO STATION Ball recommends that Napolillo be promoted to CHIEF in his own branch of the Service. He also states that he will miss Napolillo saying that he is one of the most loyal code officers of the Tenth MD Force Radio Section. At this time he is 1st Lieut another in field promotion.
Napolillo receives a written letter from Colonel Fertig Aus Commanding on September 28, 1943 with orders that he is being repatriated not because of anything he did wrong but because of his eyesight and that he needs medical attention. He is sorry to lose him but by staying any longer would cause permanent eye damage .
September 29, 1943 the Submarine USS Bowfin made it’s way to Iligan Bay (Mindanao) and submerged off Salimbal Point at dark 1700 hours. It surfaced 1 mile off the beach. With a Banca alongside 9 men were taken aboard for transportation to Australia. From Ron 3 were Napolillo- SC1 Glover- CQM Offert-CMM and Owens-CMM. This was the Bowfin’s first mission after leaving Pearl Harbor. The Bowfin would arrive in Fremantle Australia at the Fremantle Sub Base on October 10, 1943.
CMM was Chief Machinist Mate
CQM was Chief Quarter Master
SC1 was Ships Cook 1st class.
Napolillo is taken to Perth Hospital for care of his eyes. It is here while recuperating that he receives his Silver Star for his actions while with Ron 3 and the rescue of MacArthur and President Quezon of the Philippines.
Ship’s Cook/1c Francis J. “Nap” Napolillo, Jr.
PT-35 Ron 3
Original member of Squadron 3.
Awards: Silver Star (Army) for the rescue of Gen. MacArthur on March 11, 1942.
Commendations: From Gen. Sharp for the rescue of the Philippine President Quezon on March 19, 1942.
Promotions: None.
Home State: Maryland.
He refused to surrender to the Japanese and escaped into the hills on Mindanao Island where he joined the guerrillas. In October 1943 he, Glover and Offert were evacuated to Australia by the submarine “USS Bowfin”.
Born on April 15, 1917 in Baltimore, Maryland he enlisted in the US Navy in December 1934. An original crew-member of PT 33, he had the distinction of serving on all six of Ron 3’s boats at one time or another. He was on PT 41 during the evacuation of the President of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon, and vividly recalls the usually large entourage that accompanied the President that included his personal Chaplain. In October 1943, he became very ill with malaria and other ailments and even after he repeatedly requested to remain he was evacuated, by submarine (the USS Bowfin) to Australia.
After spending some time in hospitals he was assigned to Guam where he remained until the end of the war. He repeatedly requested to be allowed to return to combat duty but his requests were denied. After the war, he would be assigned to the “USS Los Angeles” during the Koran War. In August 1954, after twenty years of faithful service to his country and having earned the rank of Chief Ship’s Cook (E-), he retired from the Navy. Still young to completely retire, he worked for an insurance company, in the aerospace industry and for a local school district. He fully retired in 1979.
Chief Napolillo joined his Ron 3 shipmates in August 2010 for that final patrol. May he and his shipmates be forever remembered for their service and gallantry their country asked of them. I have his Silver Star and other items donated by the Napolillo Family.


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