Sgt. Carranza in Savanna, GA 1945
The Port Washington branch of the American Legion # 509 has announced the designation of co-Grand Marshal of this year's Memorial Day Parade in Port has been awarded to John Evans Carranza.
John was born in College Point, Queens, where he attended St. Fidelis Grammar School and Flushing High School. In January 1940, he began working in Grumman Aircraft Co. in Bethpage. He was among the first thousand of 26,000 workers employed by Grumman during their peak years. In January 1942, he was transferred to the Pan Am hangar on Manhasset Isle where he worked on the Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber for 15 months.
In April 1943, Carranza was drafted into the Army Air Corps. After attending airplane mechanics school in Gulfport, Mississippi, Curtis Wright Factory School in Buffalo and Douglas Factory School in Long Beach GA, John was sent to Bergstrom Field in Austin, Texas to prepare to go overseas.
Their crew of four was given a new C46 Curtis Commando Airplane and began their flight from Savannah, GA to India. The trip went to Puerto Rico, Brazil, Ascension Islands, Liberia, Carthage, Libya, Iran, and Carachi. Chabva, and finally Dinjan, India where he was assigned to the 2nd Troop Carrier Command.
John was supposed to drop paratroopers but ended up flying supplies - gasoline, food, clothing, etc. over the Himalaya Mountains to China. The flight was four hours over, one hour unloading and four hours back. Three engineers were assigned to one C46. They rotated flying every third day and fixed the other two days. The airplane flew seven days a week. The flight was dangerous in that there is no place to land in the Himalayas. It was called the hump. During the many allied flights over these mountains, over 1000 planes and 4000 men were lost.
In October 1945, he stayed in Hankow for a month at the big bomber base. There, John found a piano in a house about 150 feet from the bomb storage dump, which was a block square with 500-pound bomb store. He practiced the piano every day in his free time. One day he was with his C46 about a mile from the piano when the bomb dump exploded killing some fellows including a fellow who was playing the piano. John said that was his lucky day.
After his military service, Carranza attended Syracuse University under the G.I. Bill where he graduated with a bachelor of music degree in concert piano. In 1954, his musical talent inspired Carranza to purchase the North Short Piano Company in Little Neck, Queens. Barry Manilow, Perry Como, Dolly Parton, and Kim Bassinger were among the many customers he served in over five decades in Little Neck. He credits the success of his business to his skill as a master tuner technician, concert pianist and his wife, Stacy, who was a big help.
His family moved to Port Washington June 1963. John is a member of the Port Washington Yacht Club since 1954 and served on the board of governors. He has been married to his wife, Stacy, for 50 years. They have three children, Leslie, a personnel manager, Cathy, an accountant, and Stacy, a homemaker who at St. Mary's won the Catholic High School Tennis Singles championship.