Monday, December 19, 2011

A Brief Glimpse: Navy Medical Facilities in Naples

U.S. Navy Infirmary Afragola, Italy (ca. 1952).*


All Photographs from BUMED Library and Archives

The Navy established its first shore-based medical activity in the Naples area during the latter months of 1951 when the personnel of USS Adirondack moved ashore to establish the Headquarters, Support Activity, Naples. To augment this dispensary, and to provide for an increasing number of military and their dependents, a 50-bed infirmary was set up in Afragola (20 miles outside of Naples). In March 1954, the infirmary was moved to a remodeled building in Naples. All medical services were centralized within this "new" structure, and the dispensary and infirmary were decommissioned.

"Plankowners" at U.S. Navy Infirmary Afragola, Italy (ca. 1952) **


U.S. Naval Hospital Naples (ca. 1954)


In July 1965, construction began on a new eight story, reinforced concrete structure on the slopes of a volcanic crater within the city limits of Pozzouli, a suburb of Naples. The new hospital was occupied in October 1966 and in July 1968 was commissioned as Naval Hospital Naples. After severe damage to the hospital as a result of a series of earthquakes in the Pozzuoli-Agnano region the Navy began planning a newer facility that would keep pace with the latest seismic requirements. In April 2003, the new Naval Hospital opened in the Gricignano area of Naples.

U.S. Naval Hospital Naples (1966-2003)

*1st floor - officers + 12 bed medical ward. 2nd floor - 21 bed Surgical ward + Operating room. 3rd floor - Dependents Ward + Del. Room. SOQ not shown.

**1st row L-R: LT M.M. Lepine, LT A. Vitillo, LT J.E. McCarthy, LT R.D. Clarke. 2nd row: Lt. M Petrusky (MSC), CAPT F.J. Weddell Jr. (MC), CDR P.J. McNamara (MC). 3rd row: LT D.C. Dixon (MC), LT D. Mundie (MC).

Kane, Joseph. Naples Delivers: The Birth of a Naval Hospital. Navy Medicine Magazine. July-August 2003.
Patton, W. Kenneth. “Naval Hospital Naples.” History of Navy Hospitals (unpublished), ca 1970.
Smith, Robert L. Naval Pharmacist-Italian Style. U.S. Navy Medicine Magazine. Volume 58, August 1971.


  1. My God, I have been attempting to find a picture and "proof" that the infirmary in Afragola truly existed. I was a Corpsman HM3 who helped set up this infirmary some time in 1951 or 1952. I was stationed there for 2 years. I remember the Nurses and the Doctors very well and so many others that I worked with and were buddies with during that time.

    The most memorable 2 years of my whole life was spent there. I am going to steal the picture and have it blown up to hang on the wall. I have so many 'sea stories' about that duty that I could write a book. Wait, I did. Beautiful, beautiful Italy and Afragola certainly.

    Thank you, whoever put this site up.

    Billy E Peterson
    Arvada, Colorado

  2. I lived in Italy from 1970-1973 when my father was stationed there while in the Navy. I went to the school just down the hill from the old hospital. So nostalgic. I miss Italy. It has been 43 years since I was last there. My dad retired in Naples before moving back here to the states. I remember our picnics at Carney Park the movie theaters swimming pools and lots more.. such great memories! :)

  3. I was stationed at
    USNH Naples 1968-1970. Anyone interested in joining my group on Facebook please visit:
    When I first arrived the barracks was up on the hill off Via Caravaggio near Via Manzoni where the old hospital was located.
    Everyday we would take the shuttle bus to the 'new' hospital in Agnano - near NSA Naples base. We finally moved to the new barracks, on the base, in 1969 sometime because I remember watching the moon landing at the barracks on Via Caravaggio.
    Duty in Naples was an experience I enjoyed and will never forget!
    Roger Ski Gapinski
    Green Cove Springs, FL

  4. Dad in the Hospital in Naples Italy

    OKAY talked me into telling a short story of my time as a little boy in Naples concerning the Hospital. 

    It was 1960, I think late 60 or could of been summer time of 61. I was 5 or 6 years old. My father was stationed there at the NAVY Base, in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was an AT2 flying as a radio and Nav crewman on the C-123's, Cargo/ SAR aircraft at USCG Air Station Naples, located at on the Naval Air base in Naples.

    One day, I got the word that my father was in the hospital, and they did not know why...I was told by my mom and our Maid Anna, who was also my babysitter. Anna was so kind to me and my baby brother, we just loved her so much.

    My mom was so busy running around Naples while Dad worked or stood duty(or off flying around the Med). I got worried and kept asking Mom and Anna why my Dad was not coming home, again and again, daily. Finally I could not take it anymore. I asked Anna to take me to see my Dad. So she did, within a day or two. 

    We got on a local bus, public bus. It took what felt like hours to get there, it was hot and smelly on the bus. I was a little scared, so I would not move or talk to anyone on the bus. Finally we arrived at the Hospital.

    As we walked in, hand in hand, I saw a large room, with a lot of wooden chairs and other places to set down and talk. Many people were in there visiting patience I noticed. We immediately turned to a desk, and asked to see my Dad, AT2 Thomas Wynn SR. USCG. It seemed to take a good while for him to come, but he came down from his room. He was dressed in a hospital outfit and a robe, all Govt issued. 

    He was very surprised to see us. I ran up to him and hugged him. I immediately questioned him when he was coming home and why in the world was he there. He was somewhat shocked I was there, and asked me why I came.

    Well, this is not what I had in mind, I wanted to know when he would be home again. He began to tell me he had a kidney stone the doctors figured out, and so it would be a few more days before he could come back home or go back to work. I was very troubled by this, and told him so.

    Anna was somewhat in trouble for bring me there, I figured by now, by the way he talked to her. But I talked to him about this many years later, when I too was in the USCG Aviation, as an AECS, he had long since retired. I now wanted to know the full story from him.

    He told me, he was only gone about a week, which felt like months to a 5 year old. He was there for a week before they figured out he had a stone and had to pass it before they let him go home. Finally after a few days, he came home, boy! was I glad to see him home.

    He was a wonderful father and took me and my little brother everywhere in the Naples area, to see the all that was to see in the area every weekend, it was a two year vacation, that only the rich can afford. He made friends with an old bum that grew up in New York City, but kicked out and sent back to Italy for teen misbehavior, he was now 60 years old and picking up cirgarette butts on the streets to smoke. But Dad liked him and so he became our tour guide on weekends. His name was Guy Itanno or Guyitanno. In any case, for about two years he was our best friend, until he snapped at the maid, and bossed her around, Dad did not like that, so he never came around again.

    I loved my time there, and quickly picked up the language to his surprise. He studied Italian every night by books, but I was learning from Anna and local folks. I had to translate for him at the gasoline station one time, He was shocked that I knew what the gas station attendant wanted, the key to his gas cap. LOL!! I was wondering about what hospital he went to, so thanks for your posting of the photograph of it. My wonderful and loving father passed the bar in May of 2007 in his home, at the ripe old age of 78. thanks, 

    In all Sincerity, AECS Tom Wynn Jr. USCG (Ret.)

  5. I was born in 1952 in the first infirmary. So glad to find a picture of it.

    1. I was born there in 1953 to Stanley and Eleanor Ashton.

  6. I was the first baby born in that hospital facility, a few days before the official inauguration. I can provide with a scanned copy of the Bulletin.