A Revere Army veteran is a frequent visitor to the gravesite of Medal of Honor recipient
Retired U.S. Army Corporal Frank DeFronzo was born nearly two decades after Saugus Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Arthur F. DeFranzo was killed in action in World War II. But DeFronzo, whose name is spelled slightly differently than the hero he claims as his second cousin, said he’s spent many days at the Riverside Cemetery making sure DeFranzo has a good miniature American flag at his gravesite.
“Twice a month or more I come down here to pay my respects to him and all of the veterans,” DeFronzo said in an interview this week.
“I’ve been coming here for a long time. My father took me down here when I was a kid. He and Arthur were very close. My father’s father and Arthur’s father were brothers,” he said.
“I’m a DeFronzo, which is different than DeFranzo. The name got screwed up when our families came over here,” he said.
DeFronzo, 60, of Revere, is a disabled veteran who is accompanied by his service dog, Roxie. He doesn’t like to talk about his military service, other than to say he served with the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment.
His focus these days is making sure Staff Sergeant DeFranzo has a flag. “I replace the flag in the winter when it gets tattered,” DeFronzo said. “I always make sure he has a flag. He needs to have one 24-7.”
DeFranzo is one of more than 3,500 Americans to have received the Medal of Honor – the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces since 1863 – and one of more than 600 who received the medal posthumously.
DeFranzo Medal of Honor island is located near J. Pace & Son and the S/Sgt. Arthur F. DeFranzo V.F.W. Post 2346 building.
DeFranzo’s heroics and sacrifice
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Arthur F. DeFranzo was the Saugus World War II war hero who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for sacrificing his life to save fellow soldiers. The casket containing his body laid in state at Saugus Town Hall for three days, and he received a military funeral at Riverside Cemetery.
Staff Sergeant DeFranzo’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, on June 10, 1944, near Vaubadon, France. As scouts were advancing across an open field, the enemy suddenly opened fire with several machineguns and hit 1 of the men. S/Sgt. DeFranzo courageously moved out in the open to the aid of the wounded scout and was himself wounded but brought the man to safety. Refusing aid, S/Sgt. DeFranzo reentered the open field and led the advance upon the enemy. There were always at least 2 machine guns bringing unrelenting fire upon him, but S/Sgt. DeFranzo kept going forward, firing into the enemy and 1 by 1 the enemy emplacements became silent. While advancing he was again wounded, but continued on until he was within 100 yards of the enemy position and even as he fell, he kept firing his rifle and waving his men forward. When his company came up behind him, S/Sgt. DeFranzo, despite his many severe wounds, suddenly raised himself and once more moved forward in the lead of his men until he was again hit by enemy fire. In a final gesture of indomitable courage, he threw several grenades at the enemy machine gun position and completely destroyed the gun. In this action, S/Sgt. DeFranzo lost his life, but by bearing the brunt of the enemy fire in leading the attack, he prevented a delay in the assault which would have been of considerable benefit to the foe, and he made possible his company’s advance with a minimum of casualties. The extraordinary heroism and magnificent devotion to duty displayed by S/Sgt. DeFranzo was a great inspiration to all about him, and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the armed forces.”