Frank Wesley Rodriguez was born Francisco Rodriguez on 2 April 1923 in Morenci, Greenlee County, Arizona to Miguel Juan and May Chapin Rodriguez. The 1930 Census reflects that Miguel, himself a veteran of WWI who served in France with the 42nd, “Rainbow” Division, worked as a repairman at a local machine shop while he and his wife’s mother, Victoria Chapin, raised the family that had grown to four sons and one daughter. Mary May, Francisco's mother, passed away in 1928 from unknown causes leaving her mother Victoria to help raise the children with Miguel. Despite living in the eastern mountains of Arizona, grandmother Victoria encouraged her grandchildren educationally and culturally. The family had a radio and the National Geographic Magazine, so they would learn about the outside world. They also had an upright piano and the boys received music lessons and dancing lessons for their sister.
In high school Frank lettered in sports. He was also mechanically inclined. His younger brother once talked about an old car that Frank got to run again, and then used it to take his grandmother in style down to visit Eagle Creek where the old homestead had been. In 1940 at age 17, Frank was still in high school and living in Morenci with his grandmother, sister and two younger brothers. At the same time his older brother was in college and living with their father in California. Of particular note, before entering the service, at the request of their grandmother, Frank and his brothers all adopted Wesley as their middle name. Their maternal grandfather's middle name was "Wesley" as in Charles Wesley Chapin (1847-1925). As a Private in the U.S. Calvary, Charles Wesley Chapin fought in the Indian Wars of 1874-1875. Eventually, all the Rodriguez brothers served, Mike and Frank in the Navy, and Arthur and Ernest in the Marines.
On 15 December 1941, Frank Rodriguez applied for career enlistment in the United States Navy. After verification of his age, confirmation of his grandmother’s guardianship and receiving her approval to enlist, on 14 January 1942, Frank signed a six year enlistment contract at San Diego, where he also received his basic training.
After "boot camp", Navy Muster Reports indicate he reported to the Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Oakland Airport, Oakland, California on 28 February 1942 where he remained through 30 June 1942. It is uncertain where Frank was assigned between June 1942 and 28 August 1943, but, he is believed to have been assigned as a member of a relief crew under the command of Commander Submarine Division 82 (USS Guardfish SS-217). On 28 August 1943, muster reports reflect that Frank reported aboard the USS Scamp (SS-277) from CSD 82 (Guardfish). Scamp itself had returned to Pearl Harbor 6 August 1943 for more repairs from its third combat war patrol.
While serving on board Scamp, Frank became qualified in submarines as evidenced by an entry in his service jacket dated 5 May 1944. He was on board Scamp crew when it conducted its fourth combat patrol (2 Sep - 1 Oct 1943). Muster reports also reflect that Seaman First Class Rodriguez worked to become a Quartermaster (QM). When Scamp returned to Pearl Harbor from its successful 4th combat patrol on 1 October 1943, he met fellow Arizonan and Radioman Basil Abad. Together, the two were on board Scamp and made the next three combat war patrols (#5, #6, and #7) together. On 16 October 1944, Frank and Basil departed for Scamp's 8th patrol and were lost at sea with Scamp's crew of 83 men on or about 16 November 1944.
Frank Wesley Rodriguez was 21 years old.
More information about Scamp and the names of its crewmembers, go to the following links:
Frank Rodriguez's biographic information was coordinated with his niece, Kim, who focused on his life prior to his joining the Navy and provided a photo of young Frank in suite and copies of his service record.