CENTER FOR U.S. WAR
VETERANS' ORAL HISTORIES

World War II

Frank E. Zuccarelli

World War II Oral History Interview
US Marine Corps, 3rd Marine Division
Date: December 28, 2005
Interviewer: Carol Fowler
Summarizer: Alexis Martin
Veterans History Project

Summary

Marine Corps veteran Frank E. Zuccarelli was born in October 1921 in Olyphant, Pennsylvania, and his family moved to Bound Brook, New Jersey, shortly afterward. He served in World War II from November 1942 to November 1945. Zuccarelli was motivated to enlist by his brother, who had joined the army before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He described December 7, 1941 as a sad day that affected the lives of many, including his parents, who had a son on active duty and were soon to have another in as well. Becoming a Marine was something Zuccarelli had always wanted to do, and the Pearl Harbor attack provided the impetus to enlist. 

Zuccarelli spent time in boot camp at Parris Island, enduring the strictness of Marine drill instructors. He described his adjustment from civilian to Marine life as dramatic. Zuccarelli highlighted the intense discipline of his experience, stating that knowledge of the Marine training regimen was a factor in his decision to join the Marines, which he described as a group of strong, disciplined, elite individuals – with no disrespect to the other branches. His journey took him all over, from New Jersey to Parris Island, New Zealand, Guadalcanal, Italy, and several other new environments. Only returning home twice during this action packed, three-year journey, Zuccarelli’s time as a Marine exemplified the dedication it took to be in the Corps.

“Old Salt of the Sixth Fleet,” by Frank Zuccarelli, is part of the U.S. Navy Art Collection.

While he had a longtime admiration for being a Marine, Zuccarelli held another passion of his very close to his heart. Art was a big part of his life, acting as a breakaway from military life. In this unique interview, this artistic Marine shared paintings and drawings that he created during his time on base in an effort to remain sane. He would sketch photos of barracks, railroads and seemingly anything around base to create documented memories. Throughout the interview, Zuccarelli gave thanks to his art life. “I’m focusing on the art, because it saved my life. If it weren’t for the art, I don’t know what I would have done with my life” he stated in a moment of gratitude.

After his service, Zuccarelli held onto his artistic passion and went on to create and sell an outstanding number of paintings that can still be found today. He acted as the official artist for the Navy from 1968-1981. Zuccarelli taught art for a period of time. He summarized that art and teaching made up his whole life outside of being a Marine. This healthy escape from disciplined Marine life guided Zuccarelli, and ultimately helped him land on his feet when he was discharged. This personal narrative of United States Marine turned artist is one of incredible pride and passion. In his lighthearted final statements, our honored veteran noted the importance of future generations learning not only how to work with other people, but how to work with people who are different from them.

In his February 6, 2012 obituary, it is noted that Frank Zuccarelli was descended from the 18th Century artist Francisco Zuccarelli, one of the founding fathers of the British Royal Academy, whose paintings now hang at the Windsor Castle and major museums in England and Italy.

Zuccarelli died at the age of 90 in Bridgewater at the New Jersey Eastern Star Home. He is buried at Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, NJ.

His paintings have appeared in numerous publications and exhibited nationally as well as in Canada, France, Italy, China and Russia.

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Researchers

Researchers interested in viewing our collections should contact Mr. Joseph Bilby, Assistant Curator, at (732) 974-5966.