Frank M. Gervasi Collection (Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center/Library of Congress)
The Final StoryFrank Michael Gervasi, 96, of Vandergrift, passed away Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, surrounded and comforted by his loving family. He was born on June 15, 1919, in Vandergrift, the son of Michel and Luigina (Bennardo) Gervasi. He was a lifelong resident of Vandergrift and a 1937 graduate of Vandergrift High School. Frank and his wife, Anita (Capretto) Gervasi celebrated 68 years of marriage earlier this month. “Gervy”, as he was known to his friends, served on the Vandergrift Police force upon his return from duty in World War II until 1959 when he was hired as the head guard at the U.S. Steel Research Center in Monroeville, retiring in 1981. He was a member of the Vandergrift Borough Council and a member of the committee that worked to implement Rainbow Control, the area’s first emergency management system. Frank was a member of St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church, St. Gertrude Mens’ Club, the Vandergrift Order of Sons of Italy in America, the V.F.W., the Knights of Columbus and the Veterans Breakfast Club. He enjoyed times spent with his family and friends, gardening and playing cards. Gervy was proud to have served in the Army during World War II from 1942 to 1945 as a member of the First Infantry Division, 16th Infantry Regiment, “A” Company, also known as “The Big Red One”. His division participated in three first-wave amphibious landings. The initial one was the first wave of the invasion of North Africa. It was in Tunisia where he and 150 surviving members of his 1000-man battalion were taken prisoner by the German Army and later liberated by British forces. The second first-wave was the invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943, and on June 6, 1944, “D-Day”, he saw his third first wave invasion in 18 months when his division landed on the Easy Red Sector of Omaha Beach, advancing inland until the St. Lo Breakthrough. Frank served as a squad leader with 250 men in his company, 58 of whom survived the day. He was wounded on July 28, 1944, during a mortar barrage, sent to England to recover and rejoined his outfit in Stolberg Germany in September 1944, fighting through the Huertgen Forest, later referred to as the “meat grinder”. In December 1944, Frank was assigned to the Ground Force Officers Training School in Fountainbleau, France, to train new officers in infantry tactics. During his service to our country, Frank attained the rank of Master Sergeant, classified as essential with 118 discharge points, and was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, six Campaign Stars and Arrowhead, four Presidential citations, the Prisoner of War medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the European Theater of Operations ribbon. Earlier this year, Frank was honored by the French government with The French Knight’s Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor, for his participation in the D-Day invasion and its contribution to the liberation of France. Frank memories of the “Big Red One’s” involvement in the European Theater of World War II have been recorded and preserved in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Soldiers and Sailors Museum in Pittsburgh, and John Bailey’s “Alle-Kiski Valley Goes to War”. Frank’s participation in the invasion of North Africa and the ensuing battle with Rommel’s army at Kasserine Pass has been filmed and can be seen in the History Channel’s documentary, “World War II from Space”. He is recognized in Cornelius Ryan’s book, “The Longest Day.” Frank was devoted family man who is survived by his wife, Anita, and four children, Kathleen (William) Karazsia of Washington Township, Francine Gervasi, of Vandergrift, Michael (Alison) Gervasi, of Spring City, Pa., and Linda Gervasi, of Orlando, Fla.; and four grandchildren, William Karazsia, of Milan, Italy, Ian (Jenny) Gervasi, of Washington, D.C., Marie (Travis) German, of Spring City, and Aurelia Gervasi, of Orlando, Fla.; a sister, Eleanor Gervasi, of Vandergrift; and many nieces and nephews. He will be dearly missed by all. He was preceded in death by his parents, Michel and Luigina; sisters, Amelia Gervasi and Carmen Camilli; and a brother, Frank. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated. Entombment in Greenwood Memorial Park Mausoleum, Lower Burrell, where military honors will be accorded by the Vandergrift Veteran’s Honor Guard Inc.
The Social Voice Project is dedicated to understanding the voices and stories of our lives–those first-hand, authentic accounts of lived experiences we call oral histories. Sharing these experiences reveals our social, economic, and political lives, and they help forge important understandings of public histories.
The Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative is a veteran-run, award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to capture, preserve, and share the voices, images, and experiences of veterans of all eras and branches of service with a Western Pennsylvania connection.
The mission of the Veterans Breakfast Club is to create communities of listening around veterans and their stories to ensure that this living history will never be forgotten. We believe that through our work, people will be educated, healed, and inspired. The Veterans Breakfast Club is a non-religious, non-political 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.