Antonio Vito Graziano
Born: February 5, 1922
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Service: U.S. Navy
Position / Rank: Ensign USNR
Date / Place of death: February 1, 1945 / South Pacific
Date / Place of burial: St. John’s Cemetery,
Middle Village, Long Island, NY
Anthony V. Graziano was sworn in as a Midshipman, Merchant Marine Reserve, U.S.
Naval Reserve on December 24, 1942 four days before he completed his 10 weeks of
training at the Pass Christian Basic School. According to Crew Lists on file in New York
he signed on aboard the Liberty Ship SS David G. Farragut as Engine Cadet on
January 9, 1943. He signed off articles on September 14, 1943 after making voyages
across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. According to U.S. Navy records he was
awarded the Combat Bar, Atlantic War Zone Bar and Mediterranean – Middle East War
Zone Bar. During his service as a Cadet – Midshipman he received a letter of
commendation from the David G. Farragut’s Armed Guard Officer for his participation in
repelling aircraft attacks on the ship.
Upon reporting to Kings Point he was assigned to Section B-116 and joined the
Academy’s Boxing Team. On May 19, 1944 he applied for an Active Duty Commission
in the Navy. He graduated on July 12, 1944 and was commissioned Ensign, USNR on
July 15, 1944. After reporting for duty on August 11 he was assigned to initial training at
Newport, RI. Upon completion of his initial training he was assigned to the precommissioning crew of the USS Queens (APA 103) then being constructed and
converted into an Attack Troop Transport at Bethlehem Steel Company’s Sparrows
Point, MD shipyard.
The USS Queens was commissioned on December 16, 1944. Ensign Graziano was
assigned to duty as the ship’s Boiler’s Officer. The ship and its crew trained in
Chesapeake Bay. When the ship was ready for duty it was assigned for duty to the
Pacific Fleet and sailed from Norfolk, VA for Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal.
The afternoon Deck Log Book entries for the USS Queens for February 1, 1945 states,
“1330 Ensign Antonio V. Graziano, EM, USNR #181430 sustained injuries
to the head. 1509 Ensign Antonio V. Graziano died from gunshot wound,
circumstances being investigated.”
A board of investigation, headed by Commander M. H. Hegarty, USNR, the ship’s
Engineering Officer, convened a little more than an hour after Ensign Graziano’s death.
After several meetings the Board concluded that Ensign Graziano died of a self inflicted
gunshot wound to head. The Board stated,
“At the time of the act, the deceased was temporarily insane caused by
acts of duty as shown by changes in behavior and personality in the past
six weeks as stated in the statements of witnesses. It is concluded that
his death occurred in the line of duty and not the result of his own
The USS Queens arrived at Pearl Harbor on February 7, 1945, two days after what
would have been Antonio V. Graziano’s 23rd birthday. Ensign Graziano’s body was
transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital #8, Aiea, Hawaii. He was buried in the Halawa Naval
Cemetery in Pearl Harbor. After World War II parents or next of kin of deceased
military personnel buried outside the continental U.S. were given the option of either
leaving the remains buried where they were or having the remains disinterred and
returned to them for burial in their home town. On November 21, 1947 a headstone for
Ensign Graziano was ordered from the Government. It was shipped on April 2, 1948 to
St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village, Long Island which is Antonio V. Graziano’s final resting place.
Antonio V. Graziano was the youngest of Michele (Michael) and Mary Graziano’s two
sons and third of their four children. His older brother was Daniel and his two sisters
were Angelina (older) and Elizabeth. According to the 1930 U.S. Census Michele
Graziano was a “boot black” or shoe shiner. The family lived at 1166 43rd Street in
Brooklyn, NY. Antonio graduated from New Utrecht High School and took evening
classes at Brooklyn College before his appointment to Kings Point. During the days
before Kings Point he worked as a clerk in a stationery and printing company, and as a
diamond cutter’s apprentice.
In an historical note, the USS Queens was decommissioned on June 10, 1946. The
ship was converted into a trans-Atlantic passenger ship and renamed SS Excambion.
As one of American Export Lines “Four Aces” the ship operated from the East Coast of
the U.S. to Mediterranean ports until 1958. In 1965 the ship was assigned as the first
training ship of the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston, TX. After many years of
service training new merchant mariners the ship was retired. In 2007 the ship was sunk
as a reef approximately 17 nautical miles northeast of South Padre Island, TX. Today
the ship is a popular scuba diving attraction.