Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Honors Help Heal Scars of Wwii Pow Survivors

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Honors Help Heal Scars of Wwii Pow Survivors

Article excerpt

I'm in the Kravetz living room in Chalfant. "Family Feud" is on but nobody's watching. Frank Kravetz is showing me a divot, about the size that a sand wedge might leave if it could cleave skin, in his left thigh.

That's his souvenir from a bombing mission over Germany on Nov. 2, 1944. That and more than 100 pieces of shrapnel in the leg, and 30 more in his right foot, compliments of the German fighter planes and anti-aircraft fire that ripped apart his tail-gunner's perch in a B-17 Flying Fortress.

"That's pretty now," says his wife, Anne, of the wound she first saw through a 19-year-old's eyes when her beau returned home in 1945.

I took her word that the old wound has gotten more attractive. It still looked pretty fierce, but the Kravetzes are celebrating their 67th anniversary this weekend and I don't think she'd lie.

Mr. Kravetz, 89, who served for roughly a decade as the national director of American Ex-Prisoners of War, is one of four World War II POWs who have lived in this borough with a population of less than 1,000. Mr. Kravetz is the only one still living. At noon Saturday, Sept. 21, the day after National POW/MIA Recognition Day, they will be honored at a flag-raising ceremony at the borough's war memorial.

The other Chalfant POWs were Steve Minnaji, another prisoner of the Germans; and Joseph Bisaha and James Joyce, prisoners of the Japanese. A fifth resident, Nicholas Mogus, was missing in action in the European Theater. Three more were killed in action there: Michael O'Rourke, Henry Ambrose and Joseph Leonard.

Further details are scant. This little slice of the Turtle Creek Valley once made an extraordinary sacrifice of its young men, but life goes on, and people forget. Mr. Kravetz, who spent months recovering from his wounds in a German prison hospital and then a prisoner-of-war camp, has gathered his memories in a self-published autobiography, "Eleven Two."

Nov. 2 -- or 11/2 -- is the date he reported for duty with the Army Air Corps in 1943, the date he was shot down in '44 and the date he was honorably discharged in '45. It's also the date his book was published in 2010.

The man has a vivid way of sharing the brush strokes that paint a life. …

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