FRANK A PRICE - SGT
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- September 30, 1946
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- October 15, 1967
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Frank A. Price III was born on September 30, 1946. His home of record is Denville, NJ.
A 1965 graduate of Morris Hills Regional High School, Frank enjoyed football and wrestling. While at Morris Hills, he was a letterman for the Scarlet Knights football and wrestling teams and a member of the Morris Hills Varsity Club. As a wrestling champion and co-captain of the Morris Hills football team he was remembered as a "good, fine competitor" by his coach William Burke.
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Price enlisted in the military in November 1966 and was soon thereafter deployed to Vietnam. While serving in Vietnam he was promoted to squad leader in the Army's 25th Infantry Division. Just shy of completing one year of tour of duty, Sergeant Prce was killed in action. On October 15, 1967, at the age of 21, Price was killed in action in Hua Nghia Province, South Vietnam.
His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank A. Price, Jr. survived Price as well as a brother and sister.
Price was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and two Vietnamese citations.
The first time I saw Frank, I was sitting on the beach at Cook's Pond with my girlfriend, Sue. It was a warm and sunny day in early summer. Sue had moved to Denville from Boonton that winter and we hadn't had the chance to meet any of the local kids yet. We had just completed our freshman year of high school.
Suddenly, Sue, barely moving her lips, burst out, "Hunk! Hunk!! Hunk!!! To the right! To the right! And as casually as 14 year-old girls can be, we tried to get a good look without giving ourselves away. This was a major hunk sighting. Within a split second, we memorized that endearing gesture - a quick upward toss of the square, slightly cleft chin that pitched sandy-blonde hair out of blue eyes. I came to know this move as one unique to Frank, as long as I knew him. We also noticed his baby-like skin, tanned an early summer gold, and an adorable pair of slightly bowed legs. We were heading right toward our blanket and there he was, standing directly in front of us, smiling a smile that crinkled his eyes merrily and drew the corners downward, revealing perfectly straight white teeth and an incredible pair of lips. Sue and I later agreed that he most definitely had the smile of the century and we celebrated it with hours of discussion.
Within the next ten minutes, we discovered more about Frank. First of all, he was friendly, not the slightest bit shy. Playing those strong, silent-type games that some of the boys played to hide their lack of confidence or rude thoughts, never seemed to occur to Frank. He was so clean and straightforward that he immediately gained our trust. So, as the sun baked us like a batch of sugar cookies, we basked in these first sweet minutes of a friendship that would last a short lifetime.
Of course, he went for Sue. All the guys fell for her right away. She was the epitome of cute. But later that summer, she met Dennis, an older guy with a dark blue Oldsmobile convertible, and Frank was available again. He took me to a movie, my first date. I felt self-conscious, but he was so easy to be with there was none of that first date awkwardness that use to ruffle teens in their early 60s innocence. I don't remember what was playing on the screen, but I do remember being kissed by the softest pair of lips imaginable. After the show, he held my hand as we walked around the corner for a hot chocolate. We talked and laughed until his sister arrived to drive us home.
It's hard to remember the time sequence, but I know Frank and I were going steady before I turned 15 because I started wearing contacts when I was 15, and I have a picture of the two of us standing on a snowy road in Rock Ridge and I was wearing glasses. In the photo, he has his arm draped around my shoulder and my raccoon collared coat is hanging open in youthful defiance of the winter cold. He had given me his ring, a beautiful gold ring with a kind of Chinese-style rendition of his initials - FAP. It was the first time ever I had ring-proof of a boyfriend and I wore it like a prize of love on a chain around my neck.
Frank was a kind of sentimental boyfriend, very sweet and attentive. He called me often on the phone and sometimes he would write me letters. At the end of every letter he would always write the word, "HOLLAND". For a long time, he told me that if I wanted to know the meaning of those letters I would have to figure it out myself. I only knew that one of the L's must stand for Love, but finally I weaseled enough hints out of him to solve the puzzle - Hope Our Love Lasts And Never Dies.
It was the middle of the sixties. We dated off and on throughout high school, but I don't remember ever breaking up or getting back together. I think that's because our friendship and affection seemed to override the roller coaster of teenage romance. I do remember his beautiful mint green convertible, though, which I think was a Buick. I remember standing at the window, waiting for him to pull around the corner. I remember hearing the car door slam, and watching him walk to the door with that toss of the chin, but I don't remember the last time I saw him.
His letters started arriving late in the summer of 1967. They sounded more like letters from a kid at summer camp than a soldier at war. He wrote about the home he and his friends had dug out of the jungle dirt, about his trip to Hong Kong, and the large snake they had caught near the camp. He wrote about coming home that autumn, and visiting me at college in South Jersey. At the end of every letter, he wrote, "HOLLAND".
September came. I was a college senior and a student teacher at Parsippany High School. One Sunday afternoon my girlfriend, Dee Dee, called me. "He's dead", she said. "Frank is dead." A few days later, I stood in the back of a church so crowded that I couldn't see the coffin. It may have been a sunny day, but my memory is of so many black umbrellas in the cemetery that I couldn't see the grave. I heard a story about a patrol and a land mine. I couldn't imagine it. I wouldn't see that smile again, but the love did last and never died. That's why this story has been written - in memory of a vanished smile, a life sacrificed and a continuing love.
Written by Pamela Rae Hance, friend
June 11, 2001
Sources: Pamela Rae Hance (friend), Morris Hills Regional High School, various websites and NJVVMF.
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