Services & Professionals
Pavese recalls a sort of tank-like device with “a big rifle on it” approaching. There was also a command car. “And this colonel, spick and span … riding trousers and shiny boots and one of those swagger sticks,” Pavese says. “And he had a hat on. One of those German hats, and he had a pistol on his side. And he got out of the command car and came up to me and said, ‘Are you Americans?’ And I said we’re Americans. He said he wanted to surrender.”
Just 18 years old, Cpl. Pavese understandably was nervous. “If I had a tie on, it would have been going up and down,” Pavese says, gesturing his hands up and down off his chest, indicating how fast his heart was beating.
The colonel told Pavese they didn’t want to surrender to the Italian guerrilla force, which he believed would have likely killed all under his command. The colonel asked about Pavese’s rank. “He said, ‘I can’t surrender to you,’” Pavese remembers.
Pavese told the German about an American colonel back at his base. Then, Pavese says, Kowalski asked the German colonel for his sidearm. The colonel said no. “I told Kowalski, get your a— back in that truck,” Pavese remembers saying.
Then the German colonel and the American corporal went their separate ways. The German went to surrender to an American colonel, and Pavese continued his morning mission of picking up food. “I was running late and had to get food for over 100 soldiers,” Pavese says.
Pavese would return to Fort Myers to become a prominent attorney, founding the Pavese Law Firm in 1949, which is still in operation.
Not many people likely know about his war service. Now, more than 70 years later, Pavese is proud of his service and describes himself as “very patriotic.”
World War II wasn’t fun, by any means. “A bad ordeal,” Pavese says. “Glad I went.”
So is America.
Frank Pavese (left) in younger days, relaxing in the woods with two friends.