Frank Sandoval was born September 5, 1920, in Silvis, Illinois, to Edubigis “Ed” Morado Sandoval and Angelina Hernandez Sandoval, both born in Mexico. His father worked on the railroad. He had five brothers and four sisters. All his brothers served in the military. He and his family were members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Frank went to McKinley School, where he played center on the basketball team, and graduated eighth grade there in May 1937. He then went to East Moline High School but left during his third year to work for the Rock Island Line.
Frank enlisted in the Army September 19, 1942, with three years of high school under his belt. He was employed at C.B.I. Railroad, as a section laborer in Moline, Illinois. At the time of his enlistment, brother Joe was in the Army and stationed in New York, and brother Emidio was serving in England. Eighty-seven men from Rock Island County, including Frank, left for Camp Grant, Illinois, to begin their Army life on October 3, 1942, after a two-week post induction furlough. In November 1942, Frank was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, at the engineer replacement training center preparing for combat engineer duty. After that intensive training, he was to go to a tactical or special training school. He was assigned to the 209th Engineer Combat Battalion, Company C.
In November 1943, the 209 Engineer Combat Battalion was tasked with building 400 miles of Ledo Road between Naga Hills in northern India on the border with Burma, and Kunming, China. In the new year, Company C and others were working on the longest bridge they had ever built 90 miles east. They moved further east and on May 24, the 209th and 236th Engineer Combat battalions were called to take the town of Myitkyina in Northern Burma after Merrill’s Marauders had taken the Japanese airfield there. They suddenly became infantrymen. While attached to the 5307th Composite Unit Merrill’s Marauders, the two battalions participated in a surprise attack to seize Myitkyina. The 209th battalion sustained 71 killed in action and 179 wounded in action during the 70-day-long battle.
Frank was killed in action on June 26, 1944, in Burma. He was just 23. He had only been overseas one year at the time of his death. Five days before he died, Frank wrote home to his parents that he thanked God for being alive and well. The letter was from the North Burma Theater.
Frank’s body was returned to his family September 9, 1948, four years after his death. He was interred at the Rock Island National Cemetery at the Rock Island Arsenal. He was a private first class. He received a Purple Heart (posthumously), Good Conduct Medal, and Asiatic Pacific Victory Medal with stars for India and Burma.
In 1969, 2nd Street, where Frank had lived, was renamed “Hero Street” by decree of then-Silvis Mayor Joe Terronez. From About Hero Street (herostreetusa.org):
It has been documented that as of the present day there have been over 100 young men and women from Second Street who have given service to the United States Military Forces. It had been researched and documented by the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. that (there is no other street of comparable size) that has had as many men and women render service to the Armed Forces of the United States of America then the 1 1/2 block long street in Silvis, Illinois. Of these 100 or more Military men and women, six of them were killed in action during WWII and two during the Korean War.