Frank R. Gfroerer (1952/11/14)
Boxes of Christmas presents were found strewn on a hilltop in Korea after the crash that took Frank's life.
Francis Roallen Gfroerer was born in Watsonville, California on January 26, 1931, to Mr. and Mrs. Emmett Gfroerer. Frank, as he chose to be called, was raised in the family home on Bockius Street with his older brother Emmett Jr. and sisters Rosemary, Catherine and Margaret. He attended Moreland Notre Dame Academy and later enrolled in Watsonville High School. Gfroerer played on the high school baseball team during his school years. Following graduation from high school in 1950, he worked at the Service Printing Company and attended Hartnell College in Salinas.
Frank Gfroerer was drafted into the US Army on June 11, 1951. After completing his army training courses, he was ordered to Korea in November 1951, where he joined Company A of the 1092nd Engineer Combat Battalion. The exact location in Korea where he served has not been identified; however, it is likely to have been in the vicinity of the Punchbowl near the 38th Parallel in Eastern Korea. During his tour in Korea, Frank was promoted to corporal and qualified for a five-day leave to Japan. While in Tokyo, Frank intended to acquire Christmas presents to bring to his family upon his rotation home later in the month.
On November 14, 1952, Corporal Frank Gfroerer was returning from Japan aboard a C-119C Flying Boxcar with forty-three other servicemen when it crashed into Mt. Yebong, a 2000-foot peak only a few minutes away from its Seoul destination. One reporter visiting the scene commented that many of the bodies were charred; indicating the plane had burned on crashing. "As I walked through the wreckage," she said in a pooled dispatch, "I found Christmas presents that the men had bought on R and R in Japan."
The remains of Corporal Gfroerer were recovered and returned to San Francisco aboard the troopship Iran Victory in February 1953. Following a High Mass of requiem, Frank was buried in the family plot in Valley Catholic cemetery.
(ABMC; WRP November15, 1952 1:3, November 17, 1952 1:1, February 3, 1953 2:3, February 5, 1953)