Area man publishes book on WW II experiences
Frank W. Maresca, who served with Company F 289th Regiment in World War II, was looking through a Disabled American Veterans magazine and inside was a list of reunions. At the top was the one for his company.
Maresca's life soon changed as he was about to become an author.
His book, "A Soldier's Odyssey: To Remember Our Past as it Was," tells the story of his regiment.
The company's reunion was at Niagara Falls, a site his wife, Grace, wanted to visit, so there was no question about going.
Over the years, many of the men had changed and he did not recognize them, so he looked up the company historian.
He was given a roster of the men who were in Company F.
Maresca, now living in Effort, wrote letters to some of the members, who then passed on the word he was trying to contact everyone.
A friend suggested he go to the archives in Washington, D.C.
"My knowledge grew exponentially," said Maresca, who was living in Florida at the time. "Soon, I didn't want to write only about my buddies but the whole company."
Eventually, he had a foot-high stack of papers containing information with his travel research, interviews, reading notes, photographs and clippings.
He has photos of all 167 men but one is not named. There are also cartoons, maps and war photos in the book.
A friend told him, "If a fellow has a picture, grab it, even if you have to break his arm."
Grace soon realized her husband was going to ask her to type the book.
She, instead, took him to Office Max where they purchased a computer, even though Maresca did not know how to type.
He was up until 3 a.m. some nights typing his book.
After 18 years of research, it took another nine years to organize the information into book form.
The book, "A Soldier's Odyssey: To Remember Our Past as it Was," is almost 1,000 pages.
Maresca enlisted toward the end of 1943 at Jersey City, N.J.
His father told him to join the Navy but enlistees were not needed at the time.
The Army needed infantrymen, tankers and engineers.
Maresca really did not want to join the infantry but it was the best choice.
At the time, the Allies were getting ready for an invasion, and wanted front-line soldiers.
After completing basic training, MAresca was sent to Camp Howze, Texas, an infantry replacement training center near Gainesville.
The men crouched down in foxholes while tanks drove over the top.
"They would spin their treads and bury us. It was scary," Maresca said. "And Texas was hot 113 degrees in the shade."
In August, he was sent to Breckinridge, Ky. By then the invasion had taken place.
He was seasick most of the time on the HMS Franconia traveling to England.
The company landed in Liverpool and was sent to Pembroke for training to speak French and German, and how to treat the civilians.
Maresca participated in the Battle of the Bulge, which is thoroughly covered in the book.
After the war ended, he spent 1946 as a supply sergeant with the Army of Occupation. Maresca was there during the Nuremberg Trials.
"We'd ask where the Nazis were," he explained. "Everyone would say 'Down the street,' and soon we would be out of that town."
When he came home, Maresca attended high school at night and worked at Western Electric.
He attended St. Peter's College in Jersey City, became an executive assistant to a admiral in the Navy, then heard about the base closingand quit before he could be laid off.
Forty years with the IRS in Newark followed until he retired in 1985.
Maresca received the French Ordre National de la Légion D'Honneur from the charge d'affairs at the French Embassy in Washington, the highest honor the French gave.
To buy a book, call Maresca at 570-629-5373.