May 3, 1919 (Norwich, CT) – December 7, 1941; 20 or 21 years old
Father listed at 72 Boswell Avenue, Norwich
Enlisted on October 15, 1940
Service number 2072955
USS ARIZONA (BB-39)
Received the Purple Heart Medal. In the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
Like Stanley Orzech and George Povesko, Seaman Quarto enlisted on October 15, 1940 and records show he arrived aboard the USS Arizona on December 10, 1940 – a short seven weeks after enlisting.
When Michael “Mike” Joseph Quarto enlisted in the Navy on October 15, 1940, economic times were tough for most American families. He was just 20 and had been working as a laborer for the Works Progress Administration, a federal jobs program. Mr. Quarto was living at home in Norwich, Connecticut, with his parents, Joseph and Rosa, both Italian immigrants. They worked, too, the father as a construction laborer and the mother as a machine operator in a shoe factory. One daughter, Louise, was a clerk at a department store and later worked in the kitchen at Connecticut State Hospital. A granite bench next to the Columbus monument at Broadway and Crescent Street in Norwich is dedicated in honor of the Italian American War Veterans Michael J. Quarto Post #20 (no longer in existence). Source: Special thanks to Bobbie Jo Carter, University of Arizona for the contribution
From the Norwich Bulletin, December 7, 1976
NORWICH – Michael J. Quarto, who grew up on Boswell Avenue and was among the first Americans to give their lives in World War II, will be honored along with thousands of others today at ceremonies at Pearl Harbor.
During a surprise air attack by the Japanese 35 years ago today aimed at the heart of the U.S. Pacific fleet, Quarto was among the 1,100 sailors who lost their lives when the flagship USS Arizona was sunk.
His memory has been honored in several ways in Norwich, including naming Post 20 of the Italian-American War Veterans in his honor. Today in ceremonies at Pearl Harbor wreaths will be placed at the Arizona memorial by Frank Sanzo, senior vice commander of the War Vets.
Sanzo will lay one wreath on behalf of Italian-American veterans in the state and another furnished by Post 20 to honor Mike Quarto.
Initially stationed at Newport, RI, Mike was transferred to Puget Sound, Washington before he was assigned to the Arizona – the flagship of the Pacific fleet.
In the confusion that followed the dawn attack, Mike’s brother James and sister Louise Valenti, said their brother was first listed as missing in action, along with another Norwich native, Harry L. Carlson.
It was a year before the War Department officially notified the Quarto family of Michael’s death, Mrs. Valenti said. She also has a vague memory of “a big limousine, they said it was the Governor” stopping at their house and delivering posthumous medals to Mrs. Quarto.
Mrs. Valenti’s first husband, Arnold Bargenquast, was also at Pearl Harbor that infamous day, aboard the USS Pennsylvania. Bargenquast survived that attack, but died in the submarine service later in the war, Mrs. Valenti said.
“We’ve lived through our tragedies,” she said Sunday night.
The memory of Michael Quarto, Arnold Bargenquast, Harry Carlson and all the war dead will be in the hearts of the Italian-American Vets Wednesday night at a 7:30 p.m. prayer service at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall on Central Avenue.
Note: In a tragic footnote to the story of Mike Quarto, his sister Louise married Motor Machinist Mate First Class Arnold “Brick” Bargenquast on April 3, 1943. Arnold was injured on December 7, 1941 by shrapnel aboard the USS Pennsylvania. His request to transfer to submarines was granted and while attending sub school he met Louise. MM1c Bargenquast died aboard the USS Seawolf (SS-197). The sub was last heard from on October 3, 1944 in the South Pacific. Louise Quarto Bargenquast lost both her brother and husband in World War II.
Quarto Road in Norwich is named in his honor. His shipmate Harry L. Carlson, also from Norwich, has a street named for him as well.
USS Arizona Memorial
Memorialized Courts of the Missing, Court 1, Honolulu Memorial, 2177 Puowaina Drive, Hawaii