Today I am honoring Frank J. Nicolei, a fallen soldier during World War II. Frank was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1924. He lived in Chicago for his entire life, attending his local grammar school and later working as a shipping and receiving clerk in Chicago. Later, in 1942, he enlisted in the military at the ripe age of 18, becoming a Technician Fourth Class in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Without question, Frank was able to use his hard work he had used while working as a shipping and receiving clerk and apply it to the rigorous and arduous training for the military.
In the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Frank was in the second Battalion, Company C. On the morning of D-Day, Frank and the rest of the 508th Parachute Infantry worked with the 82nd Airborne Division and targeted the bridges over the Douve River. However, many clouds and thick smoke from heavy machinery obscured the parachutists’ visions, ultimately making it incredibly difficult for the soldiers of the 508th to land safely, ready to fight. Still, even with the odds favoring the day to be a fatal one for Frank, he stayed true to America and chose to risk his life. Frank died on that morning of Day, June 6, 1944, and while I do not know if he ever did make it safely to the ground, or was simply killed while in the air, I do know that he died a very valiant man, and even received the Purple Heart Award for his courageous efforts in the war.
While I was unable to find much information about Frank J. Nicolei, I do know that he was a fearless, determined, and heroic soldier who was willing to risk his life for the United States of America. I do know that I would not have had the same bravery as Frank did during World War II, and I do know that his efforts were what allowed me to be here in France, today. While I was walking along the beaches of Normandy earlier this week, and learning more about what parachutists did during the War, I began to think of just how brave he was. The thought of blindly jumping out of a plane, weighed down by a heavy uniform and hulking weapons frightens me. Still, this did not scare Frank, or any other soldiers for that matter. Frank, and the rest of the United States military, made a combined effort in order to conserve democracy and freedom for future generations, and for that I am and always will be incredibly grateful. I will always remember and honor Frank J. Nicolei, a fallen soldier during World War II.