Frank B. DiCarlo, a machine gunner who was awarded the Bronze Star during the Battle of the Bulge, and later spoke of the random finality of battlefield death, died Jan. 28 at his Valley Stream home. He was 93 and succumbed to kidney failure.
“There was a high mortality rate in the machine gunners — we went after theirs and they went after us,” DiCarlo told his son-in-law, Gary Wang, during a tape-recorded interview several years ago about his experience during World War II. “You were like a zombie behind those machine guns . . . after a while you get numb.”
Wang said DiCarlo had kept his combat stories to himself until Wang asked him to speak into a tape recorder in the 1990s.
Then, as the tape recorder spun, DiCarlo recounted intense firefights after his unit — G Company, 320th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division — was ordered by Gen. George Patton to relieve the surrounded 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, in 1944.
“He was a Catholic boy, so needed plausible deniability when it came to whether he ever killed anyone,” said Wang, of Valley Stream. “But he said when they finished shooting and advanced, they would find dead Germans. He said the dead were torn up pretty badly, and that was pretty disturbing.”
DiCarlo, who grew up in Brooklyn, left Alexander Hamilton High School after three years to join the Army in October 1942, according to his discharge papers. Trained by the Army initially for mess hall duty, he was serving in England as a cook with the 9th Air Force as Allied forces were preparing for the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of mainland France.
He recalled to family members that he arrived in Normandy after the invasion, and helped feed soldiers from a temporary mess hall set up near the coastline. His military records show he eventually fought in the Rhineland campaign that led to the collapse of the Nazi regime.
He returned to New York after his honorable discharge as a private first class in November 1945. His father helped get him a job as a glazier, and DiCarlo installed windows on some of New York City’s iconic skyscrapers — including the Seagram and Pan-Am buildings — all while dangling on scaffolding high above Manhattan’s streets.
After marrying Antoinette Basil and moving to Valley Stream, he started his own glass business there in the 1950s. It is still operated by a son as Frank’s Showcase Glass & Mirror.
He volunteered at local hospitals and soup kitchens, as well as with the Valley Stream Civilian Patrol after his retirement in the 1990s.
DiCarlo is survived by six children: Sons Louis DiCarlo of Valley Stream, Francis DiCarlo of Hermosa Beach, California, and Thomas DiCarlo of Manhattan; and daughters Jeanne DiCarlo of Manhattan, Connie Atkinson of New Zealand and Mary DiCarlo of Valley Stream. He was predeceased by his wife. DiCarlo was buried at St. John Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens.