World War I Hero Dies from Fall from Porch
One of the greatest heroes of the Great War, World War I, Frank Gaffney of Lockport and Niagara Falls, survived the dangers of enemy fire during the war in 1918, only to die thirty years later from injuries sustained in a fall from the front porch of his home.
Gaffney, originally from Niagara Street in Lockport, was employed by Harrison Radiator until 1917, when at the age of 31, he heard the call of his country and enlisted in the armed forces. The heroism that raised Gaffney to national prominence was performed while serving with Company G, 108th Infantry, 27th Division. The citation that accompanied his Congressional Medal of Honor reported the following extraordinary deed. “In action with the enemy, near Renssey, France, September 29, 1918, Frank Gaffney, an automatic rifleman, pushed forward alone, after the other members of his squad had been killed, discovered several Germans placing a heavy machine gun in position. He killed the crew, captured the gun, bombed several dugouts and after killing four of the enemy with his pistol, held the position until reinforcements came up and 80 prisoners were captured.”
Eight days later, Gaffney suffered wounds that resulted in the loss of his left arm. General John J. Pershing conferred the knighthood of gallantry on Gaffney who said his deeds placed him among the top heroes of the war. Similarly, Gen. John F. O’Ryan, commanding officer of the 7th division, paid Gaffney high honors. “No man has performed more daring exploits or exercised a bigger influence upon those around him by the gallantry of his conduct.” In addition to the Congressional Medal of Honor, Gaffney received the Purple Heart and a special medal struck by the City of Lockport.
After the loss of his arm, Frank Gaffney returned home and eventually relocated to Buffalo Avenue in the Falls where he lived for many years. On May 25, 1948, Gaffney fell from the second floor porch of his home, suffered a fractured skull and died. He was then 62 years old.
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094