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Frank Boccia

Frank Boccia
August 11th, 1943 – June 21st. 2016
Infantry Lieutenant, First Platoon, Bravo Company,
Third Battalion, 187th Regiment,
101st Airborne Division,
United States Army
The Screaming Eagles

Frank taught me that the real truth with regard to historical events are well worth the challenge to both learn about and from once they have been properly revealed in a historically accurate book rather than a movie scripted by Hollywood such as the ten bloody days among others that he spent upon the real Hamburger Hill.

FRANK BOCCIA 1943 ~ 2016

Franco John Boccia, who led his platoon in the battle up Hamburger Hill in Vietnam for 11 bloody days in May, 1969, passed away on June 21, 2016. Mr. Boccia was a renowned author who wrote a best-selling book, The Crouching Beast, about his experiences as an infantry Lieutenant in Vietnam.

He was 72.

Frank Boccia was born in Rome, Italy on August 11, 1943 and came to the United States with his parents in 1947 when his father, an economist, began his career with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC.

His family lived in the Georgetown, Burleith and Glover Park areas of Washington, DC while Frank grew up and attended Holy Trinity Grade School, Gonzaga College High school and Georgetown University where he was an English major.

After graduating from Georgetown in 1966, Frank entered the Army and served as an infantry Lieutenant in the First Platoon, Bravo Company, Third Battalion, 187th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles.

From May 10 through May 20, 1969, Frank’s platoon attempted to take Dong Ap Bia, a small mountain in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley in Operation Apache Snow.


Dong Ap Bia (Mountain of the Crouching Beast) was marked on maps as Hill 937, a reference to its height in meters. It was given the nickname Hamburger Hill because its rough terrain chewed up soldiers like chopped meat.


The movie, “Hamburger Hill”, was produced in 1987 and recounts the 10-day battle in which 300 American soldiers were killed or wounded and at least 600 North Vietnamese soldiers lost their lives.

The 3/187th itself suffered casualties of more than 60 percent.

In May 2006, 37 years later, Frank and Oliver North went to Vietnam to revisit Hill 937, aka Hamburger Hill. Their visit, along with other Vietnam vets, aired on North’s cable TV show, “War Stories” on June 18, 2006.

Frank wrote a book entitled The Crouching Beast: A United States Army Lieutenant’s Account of the Battle for Hamburger Hill, May, 1969 which was published in 2013.

This book is a detailed account of Frank’s first seven months in Vietnam culminating in a vivid description of the events at Dong Ap Bia as the 3/187th conducted repeated assaults on the mountain against an unseen enemy.

This one battle was an enduring symbol of the overall futility of America’s war in Vietnam. Two weeks prior to the battle on Hamburger Hill, Frank distinguished himself on a combat operation in the A Shau Valley and the President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 25, 1963, awarded THE SILVER STAR to First Lieutenant Franco J. Boccia, for GALLANTRY IN ACTION in the Republic of Vietnam on 25 April 1969.

On October 24, 1969, six months after the Battle on Hamburger Hill, Frank was naturalized and became a citizen of the United States of America.

Frank Boccia was beloved by the men he led as a brave, strong, humble and charismatic leader. He was an unsung hero with loyalty to the Army and a country that not yet granted him citizenship.

Even after leaving the Army, he continued to be a mentor and loving friend to those who served with him and those he met later.

He was held in esteem throughout his life in military groups and reunions such as the annual Fort Campbell, KY reunion of his Rakkasan comrades of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment and his beloved men of First Platoon, Bravo Company.

Beyond the military, he was considered by many people throughout the world as one of the finest human beings they had ever known.

Even those who had never met him personally considered him to be a best friend through their Facebook postings. He was known for his great intellect, wit, and breadth of unending knowledge. Many would describe him as a curmudgeon who didn’t mince words but who had a huge heart and infectious sense of humor.

His writing was prolific and profound and loyally followed by all who knew him. His friends and relatives have been devastated by the sudden death and loss of such a great man and American hero.

Frank’s work career was in the auto parts business, first in La Plata, Maryland and later in Franklin Park, Illinois and McHenry, Illinois. He was an executive for Delphi Automotive, Dana Holding Corporation and Raybestos Brakes.

Frank is survived by Marjorie T. Hansen, the love of his life, historian, and author of Brave Warriors, Humble Heroes: A Vietnam War Story.Frank and Marjorie lived in Richardson, TX and Hendersonville, TN since 2015 He is survived by two sons, one daughter, and three grandchildren from previous marriages.

He also leaves a brother, Lidano (Li) Boccia, of San Rafael, CA.

Frank’s health and immune system had been severely compromised for several years after his diagnosis of amyloidosis due to exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam in 1968-69.

He was granted a 100% disability by the VA.

On June 21, 2016, Frank suffered respiratory failure and cardiac arrest and died at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, two days after attending his 55th reunion of the Gonzaga High School class of 1961 in Washington, DC.

Frank will be buried at Arlington National cemetery with Full Military Honors on November 15, 2016 at 12:45 p.m. The burial service will be held at Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery.

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