Frank P. Moritz
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 6/1945 - 8/1/1978
B-26/B-52 Navigator, 282nd Refrigeration Co

Frank was born in Egypt, Pennsylvania, as one of four children to Preston W. Moritz, who worked in cement mills, and Margaret Bratz Moritz. His family lived in a 26-room house, but occupied only two of them. "We couldn't afford to heat the whole house," he recalls. The family moved to Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, where they remained through World War II. To help support the family he sold vegetables from a truck at age 12, picked cherries, cut grass, and worked as a mechanics' helper. During World War II he served as an aircraft observer with the Boy Scouts and joined the Civil Air Patrol. Frank attended White Hall High School in Hokendauqua, Pennsylvania, across the Lehigh River from Catasauqua. He joined ROTC and then in 1944 entered the Air Force Cadet Program. Soon after he graduated in June of 1945, he learned that pilot school was full, so he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to Camp Blanding at Starke, Florida. In November of 1945 he was sent to Italy, sailing on the Mariposa where he arrived in Naples, and was sent to the 88th Infantry Division as a replacement. He soon was sent to the 282nd Refrigeration Company in Livorno, then to Rome. There his detachment's job was to load trucks and take them out to trains. German POWs, he recalls, did all the work. Frank got along well with the Germans, especially when they learned his family was from Germany. While in Rome he and two other soldiers were received by Pope Pius XII. He was sent back to the States in December of 1946 for discharge. He worked two jobs briefly, then, using his GI Bill, he enrolled at Mount Alto Forestry School, part of The Pennsylvania State University, in the fall of 1947. Despite his previous service he entered the university's first class of Air Force ROTC. After graduating in 1951 he was ordered to report for active duty at Sampson Air Force Base in New York, where he served as a training officer. An athletic officer, he led men on exercises. Frank went on to navigator training at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston. He then went to Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento for bombardier school in B-25s. At Langley Air Force Base in Virginia he teamed up with a crew and checked out in a B-26. He next went to Stead Air Force Base near Reno, Nevada, for desert survival school. In May of 1953 Frank flew in a Navy plane to Korea, where he was attached to the 13th Bombardment Squadron, Third Bomb Group, Fifth Air Force. He flew 12 missions, all reconnaissance flights, before the armistice two months later. Most of his flights were about two or two-and-a-half hours in length, and at night. "I could work all day and take off at eight thirty and be in bed by midnight. You had to come back and debrief," he recalls. He returned to the States in June of 1954 where he joined a newly formed B-26 reconnaissance outfit at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. There he met Geraldine Riley. They married on September 9, 1955. They have two adopted children and three grandchildren. That year he took part in Operation Sagebrush, a joint army, navy, marine, and air force venture. His reconnaissance unit mapped railroad and highway systems of Mississippi and Louisiana. He then was assigned to Strategic Air Command, flying jets in Tampa, Florida, as part of the 306th Bombardment Wing. In 1958, he spent 270 days overseas in Morocco, then moved up to a new base in Madrid. Frank was selected for Command Staff College. Soon afterward, in 1964, he was sent to a B-52 upgrading school at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, where he was promoted to major. As part of the 72nd Bombardment Squadron he flew some missions lasting 27 hours. "Your hair would hurt from the helmet," he recalls of those long missions. He then served in the inspector general's office for Eighth Air Force as an Operations Readiness Inspector. From 1970 to 1971 he was stationed at Utapau, Thailand, from where he flew 26 missions in the B-52 over Vietnam, including two over Laos. Promoted to full colonel, Frank was sent to Barksdale Air Force Base as deputy chief of Ops Plans in Second Air Force. In his last year on duty he served as SAC Sea Surveillance Officer. Frank retired in August of 1978. He went to work at the race track in Bossier City, spending 14 years there before retiring in 1993.