PVT Frank Francis Penna

PVT Frank Francis Penna

Oneida, Madison County, New York, USA
Death 20 Nov 1943 (aged 24)
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Burial Canastota, Madison County, New York, USA
Memorial ID 167657301 · View Source
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Born January 21, 1919 in Oneida, New York, Frank Francis Penna was the 5th of 7 children born to Italian immigrants Michael & Clara (Bruni) Penna.

While Frank was still in elementary school, the family relocated to the nearby town of Canastota, where the Penna kids grew up in local schools and the family was quite active at St Agatha’s Catholic Church. Frank attended Canastota High School – completing the 8th grade – and worked with his family on their rather large onion farm.

On April 16, 1942, the 23-year-old Penna son left the comfort of his family’s home on East Canal Street and traveled to Syracuse and joined the United States Marine Corps. Frank would train first at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, and later on the west coast at Camp Elliott near San Diago, California. His unit would ship out into the Pacific Theater, arriving soon after at Wellington, New Zealand to prepare for their first battle.

PVT Frank Penna was with his brothers in the 8th Marines (Easy/2) of the 2nd Marine Division when they landed on Betio. Their mission was to secure the island in order to control the Japanese airstrip in the Tarawa Atoll; thereby preventing the Japanese Imperial forces from getting closer to the United States, and enabling US forces to get closer to mainland Japan. It would become one of the bloodiest battles in Corps history.

It was November 20th (D-Day for the "Battle of Tarawa"), when young Frank - just 24 years old - perished; Christmas afternoon, the Penna family would receive that fateful telegram delivering the devastating news; Frank would not be coming home.

For almost 72 years, PVT Penna remained buried - indeed, lost - on that island where he and so many of his brothers-in-arms fell; however, in June of 2015, Frank was recovered by a non-governmental organization, History Flight, which notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were 36 U.S. Marines and Navy Corpsmen who fought during the battle.

On August the 1st, the Penna family received the news that they never thought would come; rather than a telegram bearing such horrible heartache and grief, there was a knock at the door and the Marines letting them know that the wait was over.

On September 17, 2016, PVT Frank Francis Penna will be laid to rest next to his parents and near most of his siblings at St Agatha’s Cemetery. His baby brother, Frederick - now almost 92 years old, will finally see his big brother come home.

Family Members

Gravesite Details Reinterment set for 17 Sep 2016
  • Created by: JSMorrison
  • Added: 1 Aug 2016
  • Find a Grave Memorial 167657301
  • CJ
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for PVT Frank Francis Penna (21 Jan 1919–20 Nov 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 167657301, citing Saint Agatha Cemetery, Canastota, Madison County, New York, USA ; Maintained by JSMorrison (contributor 47978427) .