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The Times
  • Frankfort vet’s ordeal recalled in book

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  • The ordeal of Sgt. Paul Spina, of Frankfort, and his company during World War II is told in a new book and Spina’s brother wants to make sure the book is available to local residents.
    Frank Spina, a retired Frankfort-Schuyler High School history teacher, presented a copy of the 416-page book, “Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II” by Mitchell Zuckoff, to the Frankfort Free Library Wednesday afternoon. He pointed out Saturday, Nov. 9, marked 71 years to the day since his brother and his crew crash landed on the Greenland Ice Cap.
    Spina was aboard a B-17 which was attempting to locate a U.S. cargo plane that had slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap a few days earlier. Caught in a storm, the B-17 crashed on Nov. 9, 1942. Spina was ejected and broke two bones in his right arm.
    The book tells the story of the men’s struggle to survive through five months of Arctic winter and their eventual rescue in April 1943. Five men lost their lives in earlier rescue attempts.
    Frank Spina noted the author contacted his niece in Utica while researching the book.
    Frankfort Town Supervisor Joseph Kinney, who was on hand for the presentation at the library, commented he was struck by the repeated attempts to rescue the crew.
    “They persisted in trying to bring their comrades home, yet people lost their lives,” he said. “It’s an example of the true spirit of brotherhood.”
    The author, Mitchell Zuckoff, a professor of journalism at Boston University, is the author of six books, including the best seller, “Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II.”
    The Herkimer County Historical Society featured an article by Molly Miller about Spina’s experiences in a Legacy article that was included as part of a recent newsletter. The article states Paul Spina’s mother, Jennie Spina, never lost hope he would be rescued and continued to send him letters, which were delivered along with food and supplies via parachute drops. After his term in the service, Paul Spina moved to the Utica area in 1945. He worked at Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company for 25 years and lived with his wife, Mildred Viggiano, until his death in 1978.

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