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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Frank Howard Obrad Jr
1926-1945

"A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace."

Theodore Roosevelt

Frank Howard Obrad Jr. was born August 10, 1926, in Pennsylvania to Frank and Mildred Obrad. According to the 1930 Federal Census, the family was living in Star City, West Virginia, adjacent to Morgantown. Mr. Obrad was working as a car repairman for the railroad, and Frank had a younger brother named Charles. By 1940, the family was joined by David, Mildred, and Edward. Mr. Obrad was by that time an inspector for the Monongalia Railroad. Family researchers should be aware that the family’s name is sometimes misspelled as O’Brad as it was in the 1940 Census. Mr. Obrad’s parents were from Austria, so it’s possible that the name Obrad is shortened from a longer, original version of the name.

Navy muster records document some of Frank Obrad Jr.’s military career. The record of changes for personnel carries the information that Frank Obrad had enlisted on February 15, 1944, in Huntington, West Virginia. In May 1944, Frank Obrad was aboard the USS LST 919, having been received from Boston, Massachusetts. This is the same month and year that the USS LST 919 was launched and commissioned. In July 1944, Navy muster rolls reveal that he was aboard the USS LST 919. Something happened on or around July 7, 1944, that caused Frank Obrad to have been transferred to a U.S. Naval Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. According to NavSource (“NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archives: USS LST 919,” NavSource, accessed 11 June 2018, https:www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/160919.htm), the LST 919 was a tank landing ship and was assigned to the Pacific Theater. No record could be found that indicates where the ship was in July 1944 (the likelihood being it was in transit from the East Coast of the U.S., where it was commissioned to the Pacific) or whether Frank Obrad ever rejoined the ship.
ships at Mindoro Island

USS LST-919, USS LST-922, and USS LST-990 beached at Mindoro Island, P.I., 15 December 1944, unloading supplies and equipment. Australian War Memorial photo # 017890 - http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/1016091904.jpg

Navy muster rolls located on Ancestry.com indicate that in April 1945, Frank Obrad transferred from Norfolk, Virginia, to the USS Yacona, and, from there, to a U.S. Naval Hospital in Norfolk. No record could be found which explains the hospital stays.

In October 1945, the news of Frank Obrad’s tragic death was carried in multiple newspapers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The tragic accident involved two automobiles colliding head-on in the fog on U.S. Route 119 between Uniontown and Connellsville, Pennsylvania. In summary, from the multiple, lengthy accounts in various newspapers, Frank Obrad was hitchhiking with another serviceman. They were picked up by Mike Krassa, who had passengers with him in his car. Krassa stopped to pick up the hitchhikers near the airport entrance and proceeded at a speed, said to be excessive, south on 119. Nearing Uniontown, the Krassa vehicle failed to negotiate a curve and impacted another vehicle, carrying adults and children, driven by John Swope. The two vehicles carried a total of 12 people. Four of the 12 died at the scene or in the local hospitals. Eight were injured to varying degrees. Frank Obrad died in Uniontown Hospital, about an hour after he arrived there, of internal injuries. Events were described in several newspapers, including those that follow: the Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania), “Four Persons Lose Lives, Eight Others Injured When Cars Collide on Route 119; “John W. Swope, Wife Killed” (22 Oct. 1945, p. 1); the Morning Herald (Uniontown, Pennsylvania), “Autos Collide Head-On In Fog On Route 119” (22 Oct. 1945, p. 1); the Indiana Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania), “GI Crashes on Way to Wife in Hospital” (22 Oct. 1945, p. 9).

A daughter of the Swopes was seriously injured in the wreck. Her husband, a serviceman, was summoned and given an emergency furlough for his trip home to see his wife and care for his children, who were also injured in the accident. During his trip to Uniontown, the plane in which he was riding made an emergency landing on a local highway, resulting in his injury. The awful sequence of auto and airplane wrecks, the numbers of people who died and were injured, and the identity of one of dead resulted in intense media coverage, including photos of the wreckage. The two cars were hardly recognizable in the photo accompanying the story in the Morning Herald (Uniontown, Pennsylvania), “Wreckage of Terrific Two-Car Tragedy” (22 Oct. 1945, p. 1). One of the men who died was John Swope, a man who was regionally well known as a pitcher in the West Virginia-Pennsylvania baseball league.

grave marker

Grave marker for Seaman Second Class Frank Howard Obrad Jr. in Beverly Hills Cemetery. Courtesy Cynthia Mullen

Frank Obrad’s remains were transported to Morgantown for burial in the Beverly Hills Cemetery near Morgantown.


Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
June 2018

Honor...

Frank Howard Obrad Jr

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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