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In Memory of Frank Perconte, 1917-2013

Oct 25, 2013 // By Marcus Brotherton

Frank Perconte

Frank Perconte, 1917-2013. Photo courtesy Joe Muccia.

 

One of the original Band of Brothers, Frank Perconte, passed away on Thursday October 24, 2013.

He was 96.

In late 2007 I interviewed Mr. Perconte for the book, We Who Are Alive and Remain. His memory was self-admittedly declining by then and he was hesitant to say much, yet he was spry and positive on the phone, and only a few months ago I heard from him again, saying how much he enjoyed being in the book.

Frank Perconte was born on March 10, 1917, and lived in Joliet, Illinois. His father died when he was 12, and he and his three siblings went to live with his grandparents across town. The move meant a new school, yet as a testament to his good-natured personality, Frank made friends quickly and stayed friends with his schoolyard pals his whole life.

Frank described himself as a “fair student.” He was a good baseball player and played third base during high school. He graduated in 1935. Following high school, he ran a crane at a steel mill in Gary, Indiana.

Pearl Harbor hit in 1941, and Frank enlisted shortly after that, eventually being assigned to Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne. He and his friends saw a show about paratroopers in a theater and heard that the paratrooper units were making extra money. He was 26 when he joined, one of the older men.

Frank was one of the original Toccoa men and said his best friends in the outfit were Carwood Lipton, George Luz, Gordy Carson, Albert Blithe, and Pat Christenson. He was a corporal in the 3rd platoon.

After training stateside, Frank rode the troop ship Samaria across the Atlantic for more training in England before parachuting into Normandy on D-Day. He landed near St. Marie du Mont, far from his drop zone. On the ground, he quickly connected with four of the company men: Lipton, Boyle, Luz, and Christenson, and later met up with Lt. Dick Winters for the attack on Carentan.

Following Normandy, Frank parachuted into Holland for Operation Market Garden, and later fought in the harsh winter conditions of the battle of Bastogne. Just outside of the town of Foy, he was shot in the left thigh. He was sent to the hospital, recuperated, and rejoined Easy Company about two weeks before the end of the war.

Frank was portrayed by actor James Madio in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. He said he and James got to be good friends and visited several times. Frank noted that the scene in the miniseries where he is shown collecting watches off of dead Nazis was fictionalized.

In tribute, James Madio posted the following note and picture this morning:

I lost my dear friend, Frank Perconte. A man whom left his mark of great honor, respect and love. His tremendous journey has blessed me with monumental memories. I honor him and his family, whom welcomed me so graciously into their lives. He’s altered the lives of many, especially mine. I will truly miss him.

Frank and James Madio

Frank Perconte and actor James Madio, who portrayed him in the HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. Photo courtesy James Madio.

Following the war, Frank worked in a steel mill in Gary, then secured a job with the US Postal Service. He was a letter carrier for thirty years until he retired.

Back during training, Frank married his sweetheart, Evelyn, while on furlough from Camp Benning. She was pregnant when he left to go overseas. When he came home from the war, his son, Richard was 11 months old.

I asked him what it was like to see his son for the first time. Here, Mr. Perconte paused, then said,

“Well, you didn’t stop crying—it was really something else.”

Frank and Evelyn had just the one son, and later two grandchildren. Evelyn died in 2002. Frank was a lifelong Catholic.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.”

Psalm 115:16

  • Jeff

    As sad, sad loss becasue these inspiring figures are rarely be replaced.

  • John Nevola

    Eyes Right! Hand salute! Rest in Peace. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Tony Coulter

    Thank you Marcus !

  • Thank you for this beautiful tribute Marcus. May Mr. Perconte rest in peace.

  • Rachel Reed

    Love.

  • Hadji Murad

    Requiescat in pace Sir

  • Themistocles

    only a Greek hero of Marathon battle can be equal to Mr Perconte. i’m so sad reading he passed.
    may he rest in peace.
    Themistocles
    Athens
    Greece

  • Jim

    I met the man in his home in Joliet. What a nice man he was. I was at the Joliet museum wearing a Toccoa T shirt and the curator said..” hey would you be interested in meeting one of the Band of Brothers”? I said…my god …of course. She called frank and he told her…”send him over…I just sitting here staring out the damn window.” That really made my day. My son really enjoyed meeting him too because he just loves that mini series. We took some nice photos with him and he gave me a copy of a picture of him in Holland leaning on a fence with wooden shoes in his hand.

    Rest in Peace Frank….A lot of people will miss you including the Italian American Club on Spaghetti night in Joliet…..or should I say Army noodles with Ketchup….truly an American Hero.

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HI, I'M MARCUS BROTHERTON,

the bestselling author or coauthor of more than 25 books. Welcome to my blog. Thoreau pointed out how too many people lead lives of quiet desperation. Their lives are bland and meaningless, or they make choices that trap them in despair and darkness. By contrast, I want to help people lead lives of excellence. Meet here regularly for powerful stories and insight into how to live and lead well.