WEST CHESTER (June 21, 2019) – Francis “Frankie” DiSanti, a lifelong West Chester resident and decorated veteran of World War II, was recently honored by the Pennsylvania Senate, state Senator Andy Dinniman said.
Upon being introduced by Dinniman, DiSanti, 96, was welcomed with a lengthy standing ovation on the Senate floor. <<WATCH>>
“I don’t think I have ever witnessed such a long standing-ovation and warm welcome in the Pennsylvania Senate. It is a testament to the respect, admiration, and love we have for Mr. DiSanti and that we hold dear for all of our veterans, especially those members of the Greatest Generation who set the bar in terms of service, courage, and sacrifice,” Dinniman said. “If you read his story, you’ll know that his service and his life was not always easy. There were clearly times of uncertainty, extreme hardship, and struggle, but Mr. DiSanti persevered and overcame through faith and hard work and for that we’re all truly grateful.”
Born September 4, 1922, DiSanti was the oldest of five children. He was drafted into the Army in 1942 but received a deferment due to his father’s illness. During that time, he became the family’s sole provider, working in a defense plant making turrets for airplanes.
Once his father recovered, DiSanti began his military training with the 42nd Rainbow Division at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma in August 1943. He was assigned to the 392nd Field Artillery, Battery C Unit and received extensive artillery training. That division sent many troops to the European Theater, however, DiSanti received new orders, diverting him to six weeks of infantry training in Camp Carson, Colorado, and ultimately the South Pacific.
Afterward, he boarded the USS Scott for New Guinea. From there, DiSanti was among approximately 2,000 troops being transported to the Philippines in a convoy of more than 50 LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks). En route to the Philippines, his LST was torpedoed, ripping the ship in two and sinking it. Fortunately, DiSanti survived the attack in which 168 perished.
After being rescued, DiSanti was assigned to the 6th Division, Mortars Unit, where he was in active combat for about four months in the Battle of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines. At one point, he engaged in 75 straight days of grueling combat against the troops of General Yamashita, known as the “Tiger of Malaya”.
During that time, DiSanti sustained a serious hand injury, requiring hospitalization. He was offered a Purple Heart but turned it down after witnessing the far more significant and extensive trauma endured by so many of his fellow soldiers.
DiSanti served heroically in the Pacific Theater until the war ended, earning several medals and commendations, including the Bronze Star. After the war was over, he was sent to Korea for a brief period to complete his tour.
Upon returning home, DiSanti married his wife, Ada, and had a long career with the US Postal Service. During 70 years of marriage, they had 4 children, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. He is a lifelong member and an active parishioner of St. Agnes Catholic Church.
After his retirement, DiSanti stayed active as a volunteer at the Chester County Hospital for 20 years and played softball in West Chester leagues from the mid-1950’s until he turned 80.
Today, DiSanti enjoys tending a large vegetable garden and making pizzelles. For more than 50 years he has shared homegrown tomatoes, pickled peppers and pizzelles with friends, family, and neighbors. He remains an avid and a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan. He also enjoys singing and playing cards with family and friends, and at the West Chester Area Senior Center.