Frank Castle has always been an upright citizen. Born Frank Castiglione, he joined the Marines after deciding that his lack of forgiveness made him unfit for the priesthood. Quickly making his way through basic training and infantry school, he then made it through the sniper, reconnaissance, and force programs. Never one to rest on his laurels, he then went on to get certified as a Navy Seal, by making it though the US Army’s airborne program and the Navy’s underwater demolition program. He was also cross trained by the Australian Special Air Services Unit during the Vietnam War.
Catiglione quickly showed what he was made of on the battlefields of Vietnam. While serving with special ops during his first two tours of duty, he excelled in hand to hand combat. He was awarded two bronze stars, two silver stars, and four purple hearts for his service during this time. However, he decide that two tours wasn’t enough and changed his name to Castle and joined the service again to do two more tours.
Vietnam had a profound impact on the young Castle. It gave him the skills and knowledge that would serve him well as a vigilante. While in the service, he kills a deadly Vietnamese sniper that wears a small death’s head on a necklace; this same death’s head would later be displayed in an enlarged form on the Punisher’s body armor. During his final tour, his base faces a combined assault from the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army. As his compatriots bravely die at his side, he begins to hear a voice. This paranormal voice guides him as he lays waste to his attackers, emerging as the sole survivor from either side. Unfortunately, due to becoming a vigilante, he is technically listed as a deserter. Though this slight technicality is overlooked by members of the U.S. Armed Forces, who still use his name and symbol with pride.