Frank Mattivi was born November 8, 1918 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Frank signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) in 1938. He served in Idaho, Minnesota, and Iowa.
On January, 16, 1941, Frank went to Des Moines, Iowa and enlisted in the 34th Division Iowa National Guard. It wasn’t long before he was sent to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana for basic training. After going overseas, Frank volunteered to join a new American Commando outfit that was being formed. Frank was assigned to D Company, 1st Ranger Battalion, known as Darby’s Rangers, which was trained by British Commandos in Scotland. He then participated in the North African Campaign. Rangers spearheaded the landing at Arzew, Algeria (he got to invade Algeria on his birthday), and moved into Tunisia for successful missions at Sened Station and El Guettar. After those campaigns were concluded Darby’s Rangers were expanded from one Battalion to three. Frank stayed in the 1st Battalion Company F, serving as cadre to the new volunteers.
The Rangers landed at Licata, Sicily and fought through the conclusion of the Sicilian campaign. The Rangers then landed at Salerno and advanced to the Chuinzi Pass, which they held against stiff German counterattacks. The Rangers were then put into the Volturno line before being withdrawn to rest and refit for the Anzio landing. On 30 January 1944 during the battle to take the town of Cisterna during the Anzio campaign, a German tank was maneuvering its turret to strike a building Frank knew was occupied by many Rangers. Without thought, he bravely jumped on the rear of the German tank, opened the tank hatch, and dropped a phosphorous grenade inside. A Ranger on the other side of the tank fired a rocket launcher into the side of the tank, knocking Frank off the tank and he was momentarily stunned. Through his heroic actions in destroying the tank, he saved the lives of countless Rangers taking cover inside this building. Frank, along with many other Rangers, was captured at during this battle. Frank was interned at a German prison camp for 16 months.
Frank was awarded the following Medals as a result of his service:
Good Conduct Medal 1rd Ranger Bn, Presidential Unit Citation 1st Ranger Bn, Combat Infantryman’s Badge 1st Ranger Bn, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five Bronze Stars (Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio), American Defense Service Medal, six Overseas Bars, Service Stripes, and POW Medal
Frank mustered out of the Army in 1945 and returned home to Missouri. He reenlisted in the Army Infantry Reserves and was honorably discharged 1 September 1948. Frank married Lorena June May 1946 and raised three sons and a daughter. Frank worked at Leeds Plant, manufacturer of Chevrolets until a steel strike occurred in 1951. Frank then manufactured tanks for semi-trucks until July 1951 when he was employed at Ford manufacturing B-525 bomber wings. In 1957 Ford started manufacturing vehicles at the plant. In 1963 Frank was promoted to Foreman. He retired from Ford in 1979.
Frank was inducted into the RHOF in 2012. He was a member of the WWII Ranger Battalions Association, life member of the Excelsior VFW, and member of the American Legion. He died February 2, 2018 at home at the age of 99. Frank is survived by three children, eight grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great-grandchildren.
Frank Mattivi will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Services for Frank Mattivi will be held Thursday at United Methodist Church, 1650 Rainbow Blvd, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024.
Visitation 10 to 1130. Service at 1130 hours followed by graveside services.
Some Regiment Rangers will be in attendance. Rangers are needed to attend this funeral for the ‘Once an Eagle’ ceremony at the gravesite.