Francis "Frank" Frezza, circa 1943.
Francis “Frank” Frezza is a native of New York. He arrived at NAS Fort Lauderdale in 1943, and was initially assigned duty cleaning the cook's barracks. Frank was an easygoing fellow and made lots of friends quickly. While at the base, he met Joe Chefitz, a professional civilian photographer. Joe arranged for Frank to get assigned to the photo unit where he worked. Together, they recorded life on the base with their photography. They would also accompany pilots on their training missions. Many of their photographs were used for brochures and for training. Frank's experience grew with each mission.
In 1944, his friend Joe was assigned to take professional photos of NASFL's Captain Pratt in his uniform. Some time later that year, Captain Pratt, Joe, and Frank were transferred to Hawaii. Captain Pratt went on to command a small carrier, which on an unfortunate mission was hit and sunk, however he was able to survive. Joe who had swapped places from another carrier, went down with the ship. Meanwhile in NAS Honolulu, Frank worked at Admiral Chester W. Nimitz' Office, and continued learning all he could about photography, in a way, to honor his friend Joe. Then he was selected to be a part of the JICPOA (Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Area), or better known as the “Silver's Gang”— a group of about 180 Navy photographers that became instrumental for reconnaissance. They worked tirelessly, and in 3 months they would have between them 2 ½ million pictures. Their missions included taking aerials, beach charts, moon charts, tide charts, and they would also come to photograph island invasions in the pacific theater, including Iwo-Jima. On the final days of the war, they recorded in images, the site of the atomic bombs—two days after they were dropped. On their down time, they would focus on photographing life on the base, as more and more women joined the service, and their contributions to the success of the war had to be recorded. Frank also took pictures of several celebrities visiting the Honolulu base in support of the troops.
After the war, Frank decided to become a Detective Photographer for the New York Police Department. He retired in 1971 after 23 years on the force and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he became a businessman. He'll be 88 yrs old this year. He's semi-retired now and lives with his wife Maria, who are both avid hunters and fishermen. Frank has donated a large cache of photographs which are on display at our Museum. Below, is a small sampler of the many images Frank took during his time in the service.