Francis Resta grew up at West Point, where his father was the commander of the West Point Band, and he learned to ride horses in Thayer Hall as a boy. After World War II started, he joined the Army in September 1943. He attended Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was then assigned to the 407th Infantry Regiment in the 102nd Infantry Division, the Ozark Division. His Company Commander, Captain Kinsey, was an inspirational figure who motivated by personal example. In late November 1944, the division launched an attack that progressed through the town of Welz. During the battle, Sergeant Resta saw many things that he was not able to speak about for decades after the war. He was seriously wounded in the battle, but a Dutch Doctor probed for the shrapnel in his leg and was able to save it from amputation. Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, he tried to attack one of the German POWs who was serving as a stretcher bearer. After recovering from his wound, he went AWOL (Absent Without Leave) to avoid being sent as a replacement to a new unit; he wanted to return to the 407th Infantry. After the war, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and became an Engineer. He could not talk about his experiences in the war for nearly 50 years, but a symphony, “War Requiem,” finally caused him to start opening up about his experiences. He began to get help for PTSD, and was finally able to discuss the Battle of Welz and the things he had experienced.
In this interview, Francis Resta talks about growing up at West Point, joining the Army, his experiences in Basic Training, and deploying to Europe. He describes, in great detail, the Battle of Welz, including the pre-battle barrage, the sight of an infantry regiment crossing a beet field, house-to-house fighting in the village, seeing comrades horribly wounded, encountering booby traps, and being wounded himself. He discusses occupying Germany, returning home, and his post-war career. Finally, he addresses his experiences dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress, and encourages all veterans to seek help, imploring others not to wait 50 years before confronting the issue. He ends by expressing what his service means to him.