Frank Kavetz entered the Army Air Corps on November 2nd, 1943 and he was trained as a tailgunner on a B-17. He was assigned to 457th Bomb Group, 750th Squad in the Eighth Air Force.
On a mission to Merseberg on November 2nd, 1944 his crew was attacked by enemy fighters. Frank was wounded in both legs by machine gun bullets and shrapnel. The plane remained airborne just long enough for the crew to bail out. Frank had difficulty, but other crew members tossed him out the door with his chute already opened. It worked.
He landed in a cabbage patch and was taken POW. After numerous operations, he was taken in February 1945 to a POW camp in Nuremburg and then he was marched 150 kilometers to Mooseburg. On April 29, 1945, Frank was liberated.
We sat down with Frank Kravetz to preserve his story on March 29, 2012 at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During that same week we interviewed four other local WW II veterans in the stately Board Room of the Hall. Joining us was museum curator Mike Krause (pictured at bottom right, with glasses). During our many recording sessions at Soldiers & Sailors Hall, Mike would provide us with many interesting artifacts of the era to use as a backdrop for our recording set. Photographer Andy Marchese also joined us during our sessions, helping us photo document our interviews. In what is perhaps our most talked about photograph in our collection, Andy was able to capture–in stunning profile–the horrific war wound that Frank Kravetz carries with him to this day (see center photo above).
Stories from the Veterans Breakfast Club
The Final Story
Frank A. Kravetz of Chalfant, age 91, passed away on Friday, August 7, 2015. Beloved husband of the late Anne (Cerjanic) Kravetz for 68 years and who died just four months ago on March 31, 2015. Loving and dear father of Robert F. “Rock” (Andrea) Kravetz of Monroeville, Cheryl (Ed) Werle of Jones Mill and Lynne (Ed) Hartnett of Champion; cherished and admired grandfather of Robert F. “Rocky” (Nina) Kravetz of DE; treasured “Bonus Grandfather” of Ben Werle of Seattle, Mark (Emily) Werle of Harmony Twp. and Anna Werle of Lawrenceville and “Bonus Great-Grandfather” of Alivia, Gabe and Alaina. Frank was preceded in death by his parents, George and Susan (Salata) Kravetz; and his stepmother, Susan (Kollar) Kravetz.
Frank was a proud WW II combat veteran serving honorably as a Staff Sgt. with the Army Air Corps, as a B-17 gunner, Mighty Eighth, 457th Bomb Group. He was severely wounded in action on November 2, 1944, becoming a prisoner of war. Interred in Nuremberg, Stalag XIIID, Frank was liberated from Moosburg, Stalag VIIA on April 29, 1945. Frank was a Purple Heart Recipient, which he was awarded on June 21, 1949. He was a Charter Member and Past Commander, East Pittsburgh VFW Post 5008 and served as the National Director Service Officer of the American Ex-Prisoners of War. Frank was also a Past President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Ex-Prisoners of War. He was inducted to the Southwestern Veteran Center Hall of Fame in May 2006 and was a Jefferson Award Nominee in September, 2012 Frank told his amazing life story as the author of ‘Eleven Two; One WWII Airman’s Story of Capture, Survival and Freedom’ which was released in 2010.
Frank was a longtime resident of Chalfant Borough and was retired from Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Churchill site. In 2014, Frank was presented the Charley Ruch Lifetime Achievement Award from Westinghouse SURE. A lifelong Steelers and Pirates fan, he also enjoyed gardening, visits to casinos, travel and attending patriotic events of any kind. Frank’s life passions were twofold: his family and his service to his fellow veterans. Frank was well-known for his many efforts to secure benefits for veterans which they rightfully deserved.
Mass of Christian Burial in St. Maurice Church, Forest Hills. Frank will be laid to rest with Military Honors in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, 175 Bourne Avenue, Pooler, GA 31322 (www.mightyeighth.org) or to Friends of Andersonville, Attention: Andersonville Trust, National POW Museum, P.O. Box 186 Andersonville, GA 31711. http://www.nps.gov/ ande/getinvolved/supportyourpark/joinourfriends.htm.
Frank’s family offers special thanks to the caregivers at Concordia of Monroeville. Dad, you were brave, kind and generous with warmth to others. You are our hero. Now you’ve folded your wings and met your sweetheart in heaven. Rest in peace, you’ve earned it. We will live our lives in the freedom you helped secure for all of us.