Home­town Hero

Amer­ica’s Great­est Gen­er­a­tion

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - DEPARTMENTS - BY GLENN MILLER

Fort My­ers res­i­dent Frank Pavese couldn’t have known on the af­ter­noon of Dec. 7, 1941, that three years later he would be a U.S. Army cor­po­ral sta­tioned in Italy fac­ing down what seemed like the en­tire Ger­man army. The 17-year-old Fort My­ers High stu­dent sure as heck couldn’t have pre­dicted that one day a Ger­man c olonel would want to sur­ren­der to Amer­i­cans. Just not to lowly Cpl. Pavese. But first came Dec. 7. “… I was wa­ter­ing my lawn and Mus­cles McNabb―he didn’t weigh 100 pounds soak­ing wet,” says Pavese, the 93-year-old founder of a Fort My­ers law firm. “I was wa­ter­ing the lawn on 1118 South Jack­son Street and Mus­cles came over. ‘Did you hear the news?’ I said what news? He said, ‘Pearl Har­bor was bombed by the Ja­panese.’”

Ev­ery­thing changed that day for Pavese, the day that pro­pelled Amer­ica into World War II. A year later he en­listed in the Army; found him­self af­ter train­ing on a Lib­erty ship with about 2,000 other sol­diers bound for North Africa. His boat was part of a six-ship con­voy es­corted across the At­lantic, de­stroy­ers on ei­ther side. Pavese knew Ger­man U-boats were lurk­ing, ea­ger to sink Amer­i­can troop­ships. He re­called it took 12 days to cross the ocean. They reached Oran, Al­ge­ria, where he was sta­tioned for two months, train­ing in­ten­sively and pre­par­ing for bat­tle.

Mov­ing north, Cpl. Pavese’s job in Italy was keep­ing his com­pany sup­plied with food. Ev­ery day he and a truck driv er would go to a nearby “food dump” and re­turn with meals that kept the Army go­ing. And then one mem­o­rable trip he and the driver en­coun­tered Ger­mans. Lots of them. Pavese and the driver, a pri­vate named Kowal­ski, would hit an S curve above a val­ley. “I said, ‘This doesn’t look good, Kowal­ski,’” Pavese says, re­call­ing the mo­ment. “We went around the cor­ner and there was the whole Ger­man army.”

Of course it wasn’t the en­tire army. But there were many Ger­mans around that cor­ner and it looked like an en­tire army to Pavese. “Kowal­ski said, ‘What are you go­ing to do, cor­po­ral?’” Pavese re­calls, adding that he replied, “We’re go­ing to park this ve­hi­cle and stand out in front of it and hope they don’t kill us.”

At left is Frank Pavese, a World War II Army vet­eran and founder of Pavese Law Firm in Fort My­ers. He's pic­tured with the late F ort My­ers at­tor­ney James A. Franklin Jr., who died in Oc­to­ber 2015 at age 91. Franklin had en­listed in the Navy in 1942 and served as act­ing chief quar­ter­mas­ter on a de­stroyer escort in the Pa­cific.

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