A couple weeks ago, our school took a mid-term break and we decided to head to the north of France where we could do some sight-seeing and continue to practice our French. One of the main reasons we wanted to go was to see the beaches of Normandy and also visit the gravesite of my grandmother’s first husband.
Private First Class, Kenneth L Frago served his country in World War II to help liberate France and the world from Nazi oppression. He was from a small town in Missouri and married his high school sweetheart Elizabeth Huff in the Spring of 1942 when he was only 18 years old and she was still in high school. Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, thrusting the United States into a World War, and Kenneth knew he might be drafted at anytime. Their first son, Kenneth Jr., was born later that year.
Kenneth was drafted and served in the 376th Infantry of the 94th Division, part of General Patton’s infamous Third Army.
He landed on Normandy beach on September 8th, 1944, four months after his second son, Lynn was born. After months of fighting, the Germans were being driven to the east toward Germany and to the west toward the Atlantic coast where they still had some major strongholds. Kenneth's division went to the west in an attempt to cut off German supply chains and drive the Germans that were fortified in coastal cities like Brest and St. Nazaire back into the sea.
This was rough work with lots of close skirmishes. I heard a story about Kenneth that he would hide by the road and when a tank rolled by he would run up and drop in a grenade and then run away. He fought bravely, but died in battle on October 22, 1944, less than 2 months after arriving in France. He is buried in the Brittany National Cemetery in Saint-James. We toured Normandy Cemetery on Omaha Beach, then the next day drove to the Brittany Cemetery and had a wonderful experience, visiting his gravesite and talking to the superintendent where I obtained a lot of this information. They told us all about what his unit did in the war, escorted us to his grave, showed us how the gravestone is presented (with sand from Omaha Beach) and even played "Taps" through the loudspeakers at the cemetery.
We were there on October 22, exactly seventy-one years after Kenneth's death. Five years after he died, my grandma met and fell in love with my grandpa, who in addition to raising her two boys, had four more daughters, one of which is my mother. I know I will always remember this experience and this man, and I hope this is something that my sons will always remember as well. I am so thankful for Kenneth's service to our country and for every brave man and woman that has put their life on the line in the name of freedom.