On 3 March 1944, after taking my pregnant-with-me mother to stay with her family in Texas, my father shipped out to Italy. He arrived in Naples, 29 March 1944, and was soon assigned, as platoon leader, to Co A 337th Inf 85th Div, in preparation for Operation Diadem, the assault on the Gustav Line - also known as the Minturno Breakout. This assault began at 2300, 11 May 1944. My father's assignment was to take Colle San Martino, Hills 66 and 69. My father was one of hundreds of casualties, and his death is estimated to have occurred on 12 May 1944. I was 3 weeks old.
I was privileged to visit his place of final rest at the Sicily-Rome Cemetery, 29 May 2000, and participate in the Memorial Day Ceremony. It is fitting that he should lie among those with whom he fought, and I am grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their care and devotion to the overseas cemeteries.
Gail Brown's Web Site
Gail Brown's Web Site
He was inducted into the army August 9, 1943 and took basic infantry training at Camp Adair, Oregon, leaving in March for North Africa and moving into Italy early in July. Among the very few things I have to remember him, is a letter, dated August 12, 1944 from his buddy, Edward McDonnald, I found it in my mother's safe deposit box. He is writing to my mother.
"I wish to offer my sincerest sympathy in union with my humble prayer for your irreplaceable loss. He and I had talked over this problem that in the event our Maker called either of us, we would try to reconcile those we love. His thoughts were always with you and the little girl, he spoke with great pride and love whenever we had discussions about our respective families. He would often give me an insight to one of his letters, just something that gave him joy."
"Frank and I were buddies in North Africa, we slept, ate and shared the hardships of training together. Sometimes it was pretty rough on me but he would pull me along with words of encouragement, it seemed he always wanted me in sight. I liked him because he was kind, thoughtful and considerate, geatest of all a true companion. It is a source of great comfort in this hateful war, to have someone upon whom you can depend on in any eventually, he was such a guy."
Frank J. Piller was born in Buffalo, N.Y. July 4, 1916 and came to Camas, Washington with his mother when four years old. His parents were first generation Hungarian Emigrents who met on Ellis Island. He attended Camas school, graduating in 1935 and attended the University of Washington. On April 14, 1941 he was married to Miss Betty Dickey, Seattle. They had two children, Helen Kathleen just 16 months old when he died and John Joseph born four months later.
He was employed in the Crown Zellerback Paper mill for several years and was working in the engineering department at Kaiser shipyards before entering the service.
My daddy was a civilian, a husband , a father, an engineer and a peace maker who hated war. But He went anyway!
I believe that our loss is the very foundation for our nation's freedom, we now take for granted.
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