By Danny Schrafel
They call men like Frank Minnock “triple-retreads.”
They’re a rare breed – men who have seen active combat duty in three wars. And Minnock, of East Northport, was one of them, providing distinguished service for his country in World War II, Korea and Vietnam during a 30-year military career.
Minnock died on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, at the age of 95, and he believed he lived his life to the fullest.
“‘I lived a life! Married the woman I loved, raised a family to be proud of. I served a Navy second to none. I have no regrets. I lived’,” his widow Eleanor said Tuesday morning, reading the words of a note he wrote that the family found in his wallet after he died.
Minnock fought in World War II and served in the Navy during the Korean conflict and Vietnam War. Much of Minnock’s combat experience came during World War II. He survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and survived another boat sinking during World War II. After the war, he studied at St. John’s University with help from the GI bill and got an accounting degree.
However, accounting wasn’t for him – the Navy was. Three years to the day after getting out of the Navy, Minnock went back in, beginning his life as a career Navy man who retired with three decades of service. After starting as a machinist’s mate, Minnock retired a lieutenant commander.
It was around then when Frank and Eleanor met. They lived in the same apartment building in Astoria, Queens – he and his family lived above Eleanor and her family. Their first date was when she was 16. Minnock, already an enlisted Navy man, took her out to a bar in the city, and the rest was history, as they say. This December, they would have been married 70 years.
Neighbor Bill Kiley said he first met Minnock 41 years ago, when Kiley moved to Eighth Avenue in East Northport. His earliest memories, made shortly after moving to East Northport, were of Frank and his son working on some sort of hot American car in their Eighth Street driveway – a T-Bird or a Corvair, for instance.
“He was obsessed with automobiles, and our children followed in his footsteps,” Eleanor said.
When Minnock retired from military service in 1970, he treated himself to an American muscle car – a fastback Mustang, and he gave that pony a workout coming to and going from Mets games at Shea Stadium, friends said.
Although Minnock retired from military service, he kept working in the automotive field for which he had great passion, Kiley said. He found employment as a parts manager at the former Fern Porsche-Audi in Huntington Station.
“He went in there to buy a car and he didn’t come out with a car – he came out with a job,” Eleanor quipped.
After two more stints as parts managers at Nissan dealerships following that, Minnock retired for good in his late 70s – but his work wasn’t done.
Then, he turned his attention to serving disabled veterans and began driving the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) bus for the Northport VA Medical Center, rising at the crack of dawn to get veterans from as far as Riverhead to appointments in Northport.
Joe Kozlowski, director of the DAV program at Northport, said Minnock was Mr. Reliable, especially when it came to last-minute assignments. Eleanor said he turned in the keys about 10 years ago.
“Frank was a great guy,” he said. “Whenever a driver was out, Frank was always ready to fill in. Whenever I saw him at a function he would always ask how everything was with DAV Transportation. We will miss Frank.”
Neighbors pitched in to dedicate a bench to Minnock’s name at the nearby John Walsh Park on Veteran’s Day 2013, and dozens put together an impromptu flash mob this winter to sing happy birthday to a beloved neighbor.
“The community has known Frank for so long and has appreciated him as a man and as a veteran and patriot,” Kiley said.
Minnock is survived by his wife, Eleanor; sons, Francis B. Minnock and his wife Kathy, and Christopher J. Minnock and his wife Jennifer Kranzle; daughters, Kathleen Wirth, Eileen M. Dohrman, and Eleanor Minnock-Pugh and her husband Hal; eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
An 11 a.m. funeral service will be held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in East Northport on Thursday, May 28. Burial with full military honors will follow at Arlington National Cemetery. Arrangements are by the Brueggemann Funeral Home in East Northport.
Memorial contributions can be made in Minnock’s memory to the VAMC Northport, 79 Middleville Road, Northport, NY 11768-2290.