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The Farsider Our Chaplain Historical Society



The Farsider

June 15, 2014


Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>


The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.



Visitation from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. this coming Monday, June 16th
Habing Family Funeral Home, 129 Fourth Street, Gilroy
Funeral scheduled for 11:00 a.m. this coming Tuesday, June 17th, at the same location
Burial and military honors to follow at a local cemetery

Badge 30A
Born March 5, 1927
Appointed Jan. 1, 1957
Retired April 1, 1986
Died June 10, 2014

Passing of Louis Masella
By Dennis McKenzie

Lou Masella passed away Tuesday after a fight with Pancreatic Cancer at 87 years of age. Up to this point in his life he had been a master at avoiding death. Lou served as a reserve police officer for over (30) years from 1957-1988.

Lou was the first reserve I ever worked with. He was an excellent officer and a great partner during all those many tours of duty we worked together. Lou’s battles with death started shortly after he joined the Navy in WWII at age 17 and was stationed aboard an ammo ship in the South Pacific, Kamikaze pilots blasted into his ship making it a towering inferno. Those sailors not killed by the initial explosion made for the sea with many drowning as they could not make it to the lifeboats. Others dove into flaming oil in the sea and became human torches. Many others died slowly of their burns as their pitiful cries for help could not be answered

There were too many men aboard the lifeboats so they had to take turns hanging along side the boats…that’s when the sharks came. Lou heard the screams of the men as the sharks took them and watched as they were pulled below and his memories etched with the constant cries of those still dying of burns and injuries. Help was no where to be found. The Navy did not know their radio position because there was no time to call out a “May Day,” and with battles raging everywhere the Navy lost track of the ammo ship. Lou and his shipmates spent fourteen days adrift. Fourteen days of agony, little or no water, no food and death their constant companion and no answers to their prayers. Many sailors lost all hope and threw themselves into the sea to drown or be ravished by sharks. Lou knew the end was near when miraculously they were spotted by an airman and those still clinging to life were saved. His horrors at sea should have been over but another chapter awaited!

Lou was assigned aboard the U.S. McKinley. Their duty: Go to The Bikini Atol and monitor the dropping of the Atom Bomb. So there he was just a few miles from ground zero. No one at that time was informed of the dangers of radiation so they were unprepared. Surprisingly, the officers ordered all enlisted men to go below deck, not sure what was going to happen with the dropping of the bomb. As a result only officers, were to watch the actual dropping of the atomic incendiary. This decision ended up saving the lives of Lou and many other men that were ordered below. The officers on deck watched with only their dark glasses as protection. The Atom Bomb was dropped and thousands of seamen on the McKinley and other ships were exposed to massive doses of radiation.

Lou remembered going in small boats and boarding other ships that were anchored closer to the atoll as target ships. Their only cargo was animals. Mainly sheep that were sheered to the skin so that the military could see what effect the atomic bomb would have on them. Those pitiful animals that were still alive had to be put out of their misery. Lou described it as horrific. Through the years, many of the military personnel who were on the top decks to watch the bomb, died of radiation related illnesses.

If Lou didn’t tempt fate enough with his tours in WWII and serving the San Jose Police Department, he had another passion, the “need for speed”…racing! He raced at both the San Jose Speedway and Watsonville winning many races in his division. He competed with all the hot-shoes of that time: Marshall Sargeant; Al Pombo, Clyde Palmer and others. More than once Lou found himself engaged in high speed roll-overs, finding himself usually on the losing end, yet he emerged unscathed. Lou loved talking about his race days,it was one of his favorite subjects.

Lou spent many years working as a butcher for Neto Sausage Company in Santa Clara and during the same time period worked as a San Jose Reserve Police Officer. A man who kept helping and helping.
Lou was a true friend for over (50) years. He leaves behind his wife Verna after forty three years of marriage, (5) children and (7) grandchildren.

Rest in Peace old friend. Thanks for all you have done for your country, your community and your family and friends. You will be missed.

Funeral will be Tuesday June 17th 11am at Habing Funeral Home in Gilroy on 129 4th Street. Burial and military honors will follow at a local cemetery.

Lou's obituary as it appeared in the Mercury News

Louis N. Masella was born on March 5, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois. He married Verna in 1971. He has five children; Sheryl Inez Christensen, Louis Michael Masella, Rowena Louise Ray, Diane Denise Nicholes and Duane David Wiens, seven grandchildren, 8 greatgrandchildren, 5 brothers, one sister and one deceased brother.

He served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean Conflict. He worked for the San Jose Police Department for thirty one years. He also worked as a Meat Cutter.

Visitation will be Monday, June 16, 2014 from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Habing Family Funeral Home, 129 Fourth Street, Gilroy. Funeral Service will be Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 11:00 AM at the above mentioned Funeral Home followed by burial at Gavilan Hills Memorial Park.

Donations in memory of Louis N. Masella to the American Cancer Society would be preferred. Condolences can be made at <


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