In Memory of Frank Perconte, 1917-2013
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:
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.”