An Unexpected Gift from a National Hero

At the end of last year, the USC School of Pharmacy received an unexpected gift of over $100,000 from the estate of Captain Walter F. Mazzone, who earned a BS in pharmacy from the School in 1948. The gift was part of the Mazzone estate plan which also provided donations to the Harvard School of Public Health and Whittier College where Captain Mazzone and his wife, Lucie Margaret Oldhan Mazzone, had respectively studied.

The Mazzones’ son, Robert Mazzone, a retired Navy captain, delivered the bequest to the School, explaining it was a charitable trust created by his parents that required the distribution of the gift upon his father’s death last year. His mother passed away in October 2012. Robert Mazzone said his father was very proud to have graduated from the USC School of Pharmacy.

This gift presented an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the career of this School alumnus, who passed away at the age of 96. Captain Walter Mazzone had led an amazing life filled with life-saving rescues and brave experimentation that seeded protocols used for deep sea diving still used by the military.

During World War II, Captain Mazzone was the diving officer on board the USS Crevalle during a secret mission which saved the lives of 40 rescued Americans. Decades later, he was among the team that created the nation’s first SEALAB tests that transformed the thinking on the capabilities of humans to stay far under water for extended periods of time. The experiments leading to these new daring protocols where organized by Mazzone and, in many cases, he was among first to test them.

The heroic adventures of Captain Walter F. Mazzone, BS ’48, are detailed in his obituary in The New York Times.