Charlie Frank, Sr. of Rochester, Pennsylvania was drafted in late 1942, picking up the 94th Infantry in Kansas for a year of training. He finally came ashore in Europe D+94 at Omaha Beach, “still littered with helmets and rifles.” Charlie and The Pilgrim Division would then endure more than 209 days of combat in the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge.
At 94, he’s developed a sense of perspective over the years. “There was only about four of us left in our squad for awhile,” Charlie replies. “I guess the good Lord didn’t want me.” Did he ever think of the danger? “I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t scared, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it.”
When Post Chaplain Joe Mavero called to invite us to interview veterans at VFW Post 128 in Rochester, PA, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to preserve more Beaver County stories. After Commander Tom Crawford and the Post’s executive board generously reserved a quiet space for us in the building, we set up a two-day recording event June 16-17, 2014. Over two days we captured the stories of four veterans representing WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War.
VFW Post 128 sits on Rochester’s Virginia Avenue, high above the Ohio River valley. It is a spacious location, with reception hall and meeting rooms. In addition to being the home to the Rochester VFW Ladies Auxiliary, the Post hosts Chapter 862 of Vietnam Veterans of America, the largest VVA chapter in Pennsylvania and second in the nation.
“We’re thankful that Post 128’s leadership recognizes the importance of preserving the stories of their members,” said Kevin Farkas, director of Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. “They understand the historical significance of what their members experienced and the importance of giving each veteran a chance to tell his or her story in their own words so that future generations of Americans will better understand and appreciate their service.”
This interview is a production of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, in partnership with the Veterans Breakfast Club. It was recorded June 17, 2014 at VFW Post 128 in Rochester, Pennsylvania. Interviewer: Kevin Farkas. Audio production: Kevin Farkas. Special thanks: Joe Mavero, Post Commander Tom Crawford, and the VFW Post 128 executive board.
Charles P. Frank Jr., 95, of Rochester Twp. passed away Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Good Samaritan Hospice, Beaver.
Born April 30, 1922, in Rochester Twp., a son of the late Charles P. Sr. and Minnie Bernard Frank, he was a retired supervisor with Ashland-Valvoline Oil, Freedom. He was a member of St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Parish, Rochester. He was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, serving in the 94th Infantry 302nd Company B. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, having fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in the European Theater. He was a lifelong member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and a member of the Veteran’s Breakfast Club.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Elizabeth K. “Betty” DeCaria Frank, in 2011; five sisters, Mary LaRose, Elizabeth Pisano Gumpf, Helen VanDorne, and Katherine Frank; four brothers, Anthony, Heladore, James, and Jesse Frank.
He is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Paula F. and William Kislock, West Mifflin, Pa., and Charlene and Hobart Schweikert III, Economy Borough; two sons and daughters-in-law, David R. and LuAnn Frank, Uniontown, Ohio, and Mark A. and Amy Frank, Brighton Twp.; 11 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; four sisters, Peggy Nine, Beaver; Gay Bobo and Frances Lucas, both of Rochester Twp., and Bernadette Frank, Rochester; two brothers, Donald and Joseph Frank, Rochester Twp.; numerous nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.