WWII Vet Onda is Slovak Man of the Year

June 27th, 2015 1:44 am

First Posted: 3/27/2013

Frank Onda, of Exeter, was chosen Slovak Man of the Year for 2013 by the Slovak League of America Branch 4474.

Onda was born to Slovak immigrant parents, Michael and Susan, along with siblings Judy, Margaret, Joseph, and Steve.

He was educated at St. John the Baptist Slovak School in Pittston where he served as an altar boy. He later transferred to Exeter in seventh grade where he played football. He left Exeter High School to enlist in the Navy in 1944 where he served on the USS Eldorado.

The Eldorado anchored a mile off the coast of Iwo Jima during World War II when the Marines captured Mount Suribachi where a small flag was placed. When Eldorado Admiral Turner saw that the flag was small, he ordered a larger flag to replace it in honor of America and its fighting men.

Two Marines boarded the Eldorado where Onda escorted the men below decks to the supply room to secure a larger flag. Onda recalls one of the Marines saying, “The flag would be flying very soon on Mount Suribachi.” The rest is history.

After leaving Iwo Jima, the Eldorado set sail for Okinawa where the ship was under heavy fire from kamikaze planes diving into the ship. The Eldorado shot down many enemy planes during the battle.

Onda received a medal for participating in the Pacific Theatre for amphibious assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto. He attained the rank of Yeoman 3rd Class. After completing his tour of duty, he was honorably discharged.

“Twitch,” as he is known, returned home and married Madelyn Ghidula, of Taylor. Together they had four children, Frank, Jr., Kathleen David, and Margaret.

He was the owner of the Susquehanna Bar and Grill for 35-years.

Onda is a life-long member of the Slovak League of America Branch 4474. He is also a member of St. John the Baptist Church, Pittston, which is now the Parish Community of St. John the Evangelist.