March 21, 1924 (Brooklyn, NY) – January 18, 2013 (Norwalk, CT); 88 years old
Married to Anne Perniciaro April 3, 1948
Daughter Ann Marie Definis Dustin (1953-2018), and one son, Frederick.
Last local address: 14 Neptune Avenue, South Norwalk
Enlisted on November 24, 1942
Serial number 11102777
Unit: 95th Bomb Group, 336th Bomb Squadron
Held in Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow (formerly Heydekrug) Pomerania, Prussia (moved to Wobbelin Bei Ludwigslust) (To Usedom Bei Savenmunde) 54-16.
Missing Air Crew Report 3230
Aircraft Type: B-17
Tail number: 42-38151
Details: Shot down by fighters and crashed southeast of Nordlingen, Germany on a mission to Augsburg, Germany on March 16, 1944
The Crew of 42-38151
Pilot: 2nd Lt Dave Norred, Dodson LA,
Co-pilot: 2nd Lt Harry Olsen, Crivits WI
Navigator: 2nd Lt Ellsworth Van Fleet, Cincinnati OH
Bombardier: 2nd Lt Frank Balestrine, Brooklyn NY
Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Sgt Francis Okula
Radio Operator: Sgt Gene Devan, Sacramento CA
Ball turret gunner: Sgt Fred Definis, Norwalk CT
Waist gunner: Sgt Theo Tyrell, Actigo WI
Waist gunner: Sgt Delmar Treptow, Oshkosh WI
Tail gunner: Sgt Lou Balog, Star City WV
All 10 became Prisoners of War
From The Norwalk Hour April 29, 1944
The War Department listed a Norwalk soldier as missing in action. Sergeant Frederick De Finis, son of Mr. and Mrs. John De Finis, of 4 Neptune Avenue. Sgt De Finis, who is in the U.S. Air Corps, missing over the European area, trained at Gulfport, Mississippi, and has been overseas several months. At Norwalk High School, he was a star athlete. At Gulfport, he won the welterweight boxing championship of the camp.
From The Norwalk Hour June 8, 1944
Sergeant Frederick De Finis of 16 Neptune Avenue, reported missing in action over the European Theatre on March 16, is a prisoner of the Germans according to a telegram from the War Department received yesterday by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John De Finis. Sergeant De Finis enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on November 28, 1942. He trained at Fort Devens and in Gulfport, Mississippi. He is widely known athlete, having starred on the Norwalk High School football and baseball teams. He was also an amateur welterweight boxer and won the championship of the Gulfport camp when he was stationed there. He graduated from Norwalk High School with the June 1942 class.
From Norwalk Hour May 21, 1945
SSGT DE FINIS HAPPY HE’S HOME
Former Prisoner Of Nazis Tells Experiences
Norwalk “hasn’t changed much,” was the comment today of Staff Sergeant Frederick De Finis of 16 Neptune Avenue, who got home Saturday after spending more than a year in German prison camps. “I still can’t quite get used to the idea that I’m home, but it’s wonderful to see my mother and dad again,” declared the former High School star athlete, who was shot down on March 16, 1944, while acting as a ball turret gunner in a B-17 on a bombing mission over Augsburg. His parents are Mr. and Mrs. John De Finis. Ordered by his superior officer not to talk about the way he was treated by the Nazis, the beribboned sergeant only remarked that “German prisoners in America are treated too well.” Sergeant De Finis related how he bailed out of his bomber 20 miles from the Swiss border after personally shooting down one of the 14 Luftwaffe fighters which successfully attacked the ship. Landing in a field, he started to make his way toward Switzerland, but armed German farmers surrounded and captured. In April of this year, he was in a prison camp near Hanover, he said, when he and his fellow prisoners began hearing the approaching gunfire as the British Army advanced on the retreating Germans. Their guards herded the prisoners into a long column to evacuate them further East, but De Finis and six others escaped from the column and made their way to the British lines. The sergeant brought home with him a Nazi storm trooper’s knife and Mauser pistol. Asked how he obtained the wicked looking souvenirs, he remarked laconically, “Oh, I just beat this guy up.” Sergeant De Finis said he returned to this country on a convalescent ship and had an opportunity on the trip to gain back some of the weight he lost during his many months of imprisonment. He is now home on a 60-day leave, after which he will go to the Air Force Relocation Center at Atlantic City for further assignment. Sergeant De Finis, who enlisted in the Air Force in November of 1942 after graduating in June from Norwalk High School where he starred on the baseball and football teams, wears the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Good Conduct Medal, one battle star, and a Presidential unit citation.
From The Norwalk Hour January 19, 2013 (obituary)
Frederick Ernest De Finis, age 88, of Norwalk, husband of the late Ann Perniciaro De Finis, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Friday, January 18, 2013. Fred was born on March 21, 1924 in Brooklyn, NY to the late John and Minnie (Caesarini) DeFinis. After graduating from Norwalk High School in 1942, Fred served in the 8th US Army Air Corps. Flying out of England, he was a ball turret gunner in a B-17 Bomber and was shot down by enemy fire on March 16, 1943. He parachuted to safety, but was captured by the Germans and spent thirteen months as a Prisoner of War in Frankfurt. In April 1944, because the American and British troops were getting close to the compound, the Germans moved the prisoners from Frankfurt to Berlin. It was on this march that Fred and five other prisoners were able to escape. After the service, Fred trained at J.M. Wright Technical School to become an auto mechanic. He worked for several local car dealerships during his career; Saabye & Hartford Buick, Karl Buick, Singewald Buick, Rudy Pontiac, and Griffin Ford, from which he retired at the age of 80.
Fred was known locally for his athletic contributions. He was a member of the Norwalk High School football and baseball teams. While in the service he joined the US Army Air Force Boxing team and went on to win the Welterweight Championship against the US Navy and Marines. After his discharge, Fred played baseball and football for many local teams, including the Highlanders, Strawberry Hill A.C., Laurel A.C., Norwalk Tigers, Rowayton Bears, Blue Moon and Chatham Oaks. His greatest satisfaction and source of pride came from coaching and mentoring his son, Fred, and then his three grandsons, through many levels of baseball and football. Fred was inducted into the Norwalk Old Timers Hall of Fame in 1993. Fred is survived by his son, Frederick J. (Betsy) and his daughter, Ann Marie Dustin, of Norwalk. He will be greatly missed by his grandsons, Michael, Dennis (Heather), and David (Christina) Dustin. He is also survived by his great-grandsons, Denny and Chase Dustin, his sister, Helen O. Terry of Norwalk, and his nephew, Ed (Lee) Terry. Services for Fred will be held at the Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Ave., Norwalk on Wednesday, January 23 at 11:30 AM. Burial with full military honors will follow at St. John Cemetery. His family will receive friends at the funeral home on Tuesday from 3-7 PM. The family wishes to thank Masonicare nurse, Vivien Tola, for the special care and compassion she gave to their dad and the support she gave to the family.
Buried at St. John’s Cemetery, Richards Avenue, Norwalk; Plot number is unknown
Photo not available