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Frank Nusz Fitch Jr.

18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

Captain, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

California

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot J, Row 13, Grave 23

Capt. Frank Nusz Fitch Jr. was born on October 15, 1911 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended Coe College and upon graduation moved to Anaheim, Calif. to work as the manager of a local service station and be closer to his family in Los Angeles, Calif. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Fitch entered active service and underwent advanced officer’s training at Fort Benning, Ga.

Capt. Frank N. Fitch, Jr. poses for a photo with his father.

In 1942, he was sent to Tunisia as executive officer of “L” Company, 3rdBattalion, 18thRegiment, 1stInfantry Division. When the commanding officer was killed in action during the Tunisia campaign, Fitch took over command.  As commander, he led his company during the invasion of Sicily and the entire campaign towards Messina. After the liberation of Sicily, Fitch was sent to England to train and prepare for D-Day.

Troops in an LCVP approaching Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944.
An LCVP carries soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division to the shore on the eastern end of Easy Red in the afternoon of 6 June 1944. The smoke is from Naval gunfire supporting the attack.

On June 6, 1944, Fitch’s company was assigned to Easy Red landing zone on Omaha Beach. As they made their way to the beachhead, two mines detonated, destroying their landing craft. Luckily, Fitch and his company were only 100 yards from shore and were able to swim to the beach. Although exhausted, Fitch and his company found no rest on Omaha Beach. The Germans had the Americans pinned down with heavy artillery and machine guns. Fitch attempted to lead his men off the beach through an alternative path. Many of the other officers had the same idea and the paths that had been cleared of mines were clogged with soldiers. Fitch’s men were suffering severe casualties on the beach and needed to move.

LSTs landing vehicles and cargo in the first days of the Normandy invasion. Note barrage balloons overhead and Army "half-track" convoy forming up on the beach. c. 6 June 1944.

Fitch made the daring decision to move through an un-cleared minefield to attempt to bring his men to safety. While moving through the minefield, Fitch stepped on a mine and was badly wounded. He was then struck with shrapnel from an artillery shell. Medics attempted to attend to his wounds but he perished a few hours later as he lay on the beach. For his gallantry and efforts, his company was able to drive through the alternative path. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

Troops from England head towards Omaha Beach, protected against enemy fighters by barrage balloons. c. 6 June 1944.

Awards: Silver Star, Purple Heart

Frank Nusz Fitch Jr. is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot J, Row 13, Grave 23.