Private First Class Frank

WWII hero Frank J. Petrarca WWII hero Frank J. Petrarca

WWII hero Frank J. Petrarca lived with his family at 11300 Woodland Ave. His father, Dominic, a carpenter and cabinet maker, was Italian born while his mother, Elizabeth “Betty” (Tonti), was born in Connecticut. Frank’s siblings included Anthony, John, Victor, Fred, Alfred,  Mary (Toth), Edith (Croucher), and Clara (Bevelacqua). They were parishioners at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.

After graduating from East High School in 1939, two years before the war broke out, Frank joined the 37th Infantry (Buckeye) Division of the Ohio National Guard. When the unit was activated he wrote his mother cheerful letters from Camp Shelby, MI. He sent her money to "put away for a payment on that new car I'm going to buy when the war is over."

According to War Department records, his mother Betty said "he was always willing to lend a hand. He liked his home and as a boy he spent much time curled up on the davenport with a western style magazine. He divided his time between home, school, work, and church." She added that he liked baseball, football and swimming but, he frequently stayed home to help her with the dishes. Often, when his mother was ill, he would spend the evening doing the family ironing. He even learned carpentry from his father to help the family income.

By July 27, 1943, Private First Class Petrarca was in the Medical Detachment of the 145th Infantry Regiment. According to his Army biography: "On that day, at Horseshoe Hill on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands, he provided aid to three wounded soldiers despite intense enemy fire. Two days later, on July 29, he helped another wounded soldier who had been partially buried during a mortar barrage. On July 31, he again braved intense hostile fire to aid a wounded comrade but was killed before he could reach the soldier. It was his 25th birthday. Five months later he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He is interred in Cleveland's Calvary Cemetery.”