POW’s ordeal inspired life of gratitude, service
Frank Kravetz, who survived an air fight with the Luftwaffe and two Nazi prison camps, decided seven decades ago that he would never complain.
“He’d seen everything and was grateful every day to be alive. He turned the horrors of war into a life of sacrifice and helping others,” said one of Mr. Kravetz’s two daughters, Cheryl Werle of Jones Mills.
Frank A. Kravetz of Chalfant died Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. The Army Air Corps gunner; Purple Heart recipient; survivor of the Nuremberg, Stalag XIII-D and Stalag VII-A prison camps; and longtime Westinghouse employee was 91.
Born Oct. 25, 1923, in East Pittsburgh to George and Susan Kravetz, Mr. Kravetz graduated from East Pittsburgh High School.
Before enlisting, Mr. Kravetz met Anne Cerjanic at a neighborhood party. The two married in 1946. Mrs. Kravetz died in March.
“He really died of a broken heart. They were married 68 years. She was one of the mainstays of his surviving the prison camp,” Werle said of her father.
When the war ended, Mr. Kravetz worked as a machinist and office worker at Westinghouse Electric Co.
“He was a loving and caring dad. He cheered us on in softball even though we had a really lousy team,” said another daughter, Lynne Hartnett of Champion.
Yet it was his war experience that defined their father and made him a tireless advocate for veterans and former prisoners of war, his daughters said.
Mr. Kravetz, a former national director of American Ex-Prisoners of War, a nonprofit veterans service organization chartered by Congress, became part of a tight-knit group of veterans and POWs.
Mr. Kravetz was a tail gunner on a bomber shot down near Merseburg, Germany, on Nov. 2, 1944. He had 100 pieces of shrapnel in one leg for the rest of his life.
On April 29, 1945, Mr. Kravetz was liberated from the Stalag VII-A prisoner of war camp in Moosburg, Bavaria, Germany, when Gen. George Patton and the Third Army broke down the prison gates. “Gen. Patton came into the camp at about noon, standing in a Jeep. He told us not to walk too far away. It was a beautiful day. The Nazi flag was taken down,” Mr. Kravetz told the Tribune-Review in 2010.
Mr. Kravetz, 5-feet, 10-inches tall, weighed 118 pounds at liberation.
Five years ago, Mr. Kravetz, with Werle’s help, wrote an account of his ordeal, “Eleven Two: One WWII Airman’s Story of Capture, Survival and Freedom.” The title refers to his capture date.
In addition to his daughters, Mr. Kravetz is survived by a son, Robert F. Kravetz of Monroeville; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Maurice Church, Forest Hills.
Mr. Kravetz will be buried with military honors at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.
Memorial donations may be made to the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, 175 Bourne Ave., Pooler, GA 31322 or at www.mightyeighth.org; or to Friends of Andersonville, Attention: Andersonville Trust, National POW Museum, P.O. Box 186 Andersonville, GA 31711.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or [email protected].