Italian American WW2 Hero Frank Mario Benimeo

To remember the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, NIAF is recognizing Italian Americans who sacrificed, served and defended peace, freedom and democracy during the war, using the tag #IAWW2Heroes on social media.

This entry is a special submission from Frank Benimeo’s daughter, Maria B. Silvia, who has shared with us her father’s story of sacrifice and love.

Frank Mario Benimeo was born on November 4, 1925, in and all-Italian neighborhood of East Orange, N.J. He volunteered for service in the US Army upon graduation from high school. He served with the rank of staff sergeant in the 5th Infantry Regiment, 71st Infantry Division, Company D.

A young man who had never been away from home except to attend Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets field, Frank landed in France in February of 1945. He had trained as a radio operator and saw combat in Central Europe and the Rhineland. He was later stationed in Austria and Germany as part of the Allied Forces occupation.

Frank was awarded the Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, and EAME Campaign Medal and of course, the Good Conduct Medal. He was discharged on May 4, 1946, and returned to family and friends in East Orange. He would later marry and move to Nutley, N.J., after finding work with the Coca Cola Bottling Company.

Frank was fluent in Italian. After VE Day, Frank was able to visit his mother’s birthplace in Avellino, in the region of Campania, where he was welcomed as an American soldier. Frank’s father hailed from Penne, Pescara Province in Abruzzo, though it would be 25 years later before Frank could visit that ancestral home as a private citizen.

Our father instilled in his four children the values of faith, family, and love of country. His example remained with us even after his premature death at 47 years old, after a serious illness. Our mother, Josephine at age 99, is still in love with her handsome beau.

Only as we grew and experienced life ourselves, did we appreciate his service and his sacrifice, like that of so many others who fought to keep us free. Our Dad was a true Italian American son of the greatest generation. And he will always remain our hero.

If you’d like to make a submission to NIAF’s #IAWW2Heroes initiative, email the photo and description to media@niaf.org.

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