Fallen native hero’s tag found

Frank Acquavia

A piece of history tied to a fallen World War II Dunkirk native has been found by a museum in Maryland. The dog tag of U.S. Army Pvt. Frank Acquavia was one of about 10 found on Corregidor Island in the Philippines by a counselor who works for a Christian organization in the Philippines.

According to Butch Maisel, founder and curator of The Center for Military History that is part of the Boys Latin School of Maryland in Baltimore, the tags were then given to a Christian missionary from the United States, who then gave them to Maisel for his museum. Maisel reached out to the OBSERVER knowing that these items need to go to the families.

Acquavia, whose body was never recovered, died May 10, 1942, as a prisoner of Japan. He had been serving with the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment, according to the book “No One Forgets,” which was written by George Burns III and Richard Titus. Acquavia lived at 53 E. Second St., and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rocco Acquavia.

He was captured in Corregidor during the opening days of the war in the Pacific. “The Japanese herded some Americans down to a seaplane landing area,” the book noted. “Frank went to retrieve or find food that was hidden at their battery. A Japanese guard spotted him and opened fire with a machine gun killing him instantly. This was witnessed by Jim Rossoto of Fredonia.”

Former American Legion Post 1344 in Dunkirk on Lake Shore Drive West was named after him.

A dog tag belonging to Frank Acquavia was found by Butch Maisel from the Center for Military History.

Maisel’s state-of-the-art museum is a hands-on classroom space, and research center rolled into one. By touching actual artifacts, exploring unique primary research documents, and learning the personal stories behind the objects, history truly comes to life for students.

Boys’ Latin students in all divisions explore exhibits of authentic uniforms, equipment, diaries and more through lectures and interactive classes in history, literature, physics, forensics and visual art. The Center for Military History also offers unique upper school electives in leadership and a seniors-only Museum Curator class.

Maisel has been teaching Military History at Boys’ Latin since 1991 and collecting artifacts since 1972. He has traced every school alumnus who has served in the U.S. military with biographies and citations, another rich repository of Brothers for Life connecting generations.


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