My uncle, Frank P. Labella, was with the 331st Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division, and was killed in action in Normandy in July 1944. His remains were uncovered during the excavation of a French farmhouse in 1964 and interred in Arlington National Cemetery in that year.
Frank P. LaBella enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard in February 1941, before Pearl Harbor, at the age of 19. As a member of the 111th Infantry Regiment, 28th Division, his unit’s headquarters was located on Harding Boulevard (the building is still standing) in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He was a graduate of Norristown High School, most likely in the 1939 class.
Frank LaBella served with the 83rd Infantry Division as an instructor of infantry tactics at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, before leaving for overseas duty. In April, 1944, he and his regiment sailed to England which became his base camp as he and his unit underwent intensive training in a mountainous area of Wales.
Sergeant LaBella went into European combat at Normandy, France, as 2nd platoon Sergeant (Technical Sergeant – E6 grade), Company “I”, 3rd Battalion, 331st Infantry Regiment of the 83rd Infantry Division (Thunderbolt), United States Army. Officially the 83rd Division entered combat on the European continent on June 27th, 1944, as it relieved the 101st Airborne division near Carentan, France. On or about the 19th of July, 1944, as he was advancing and leading his platoon during the “Hedgerow” fighting in the La Varde assault, and shortly before his 23rd birthday, he was reported missing. According to family lore he was last seen being carried back to an aid station for medical attention.
On July 23rd he was officially reported “Missing” and from this point on he was listed as “Missing in Action” for over 20 years until 1964, when his remains were uncovered during the demolition of a French farmhouse while a bulldozer was pushing earth near the base of the structure. Positive identification was made using his U.S. Army dental records. Officially his status was changing to “Killed in Action.” Shortly thereafter his earthly remains were returned and interred in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, with full military honors in a hero's funeral as his parents and members of his family looked on with muted grief, tempered with a glow of pride. At that time he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star & Purple Heart medals.
Ralph A. Caprio, July 2008.
Frank P. La Bella
- Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army
- Service # 20308152
- 331st Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division
- Entered the Service from: Pennsylvania
- Died: 23-Jul-45
- Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
- Tablets of the Missing at Normandy American Cemetery
- Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart
LABELIA, FRANK P
- T/SGT US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 08/26/1921
- DATE OF DEATH: 07/23/1944
- BURIED AT: SECTION 41 SITE 1155
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard