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Robert Angelo Carlone

Obituary
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Robert Angelo Carlone, passed peacefully away in his home on July 2, 2013. Born in New York City on March 25, 1929 to John and Mary Carlone, he is survived by his wife, Mary Lucille Carlone of Colorado Springs; daughters: Melanie Carlone of Eugene, Oregon and Leeza Steindorf of Frankfurt, Germany; and his three siblings: Annette Taglianetti of New Jersey, Nancy Monaco of Long Island and Annamarie Heaney of Orlando, Florida. Bob grew up and went to school in Brooklyn, NY. He credits two significant experiences in helping shape his extraordinary life: being elected president of his high school, Alexander Hamilton High School in Brooklyn, NY, and receiving an appointment to West Point Military Academy, graduate of 1952. He started building model airplanes as a youngster, advancing in skill level to win a competition and a one-hour flight from the then-famous Speed Hanzlike. This heady and formative event whet his appetite to become a pilot. In his senior year at West Point, his vision temporarily deteriorated and the Army refused to give him a waiver. Determined, he sold all his Army uniforms, from shoes to hat, made plans to go into the Signal Corps, resign as soon as possible after graduation and pursue a pilot's career. It was the week before career assignment selection at West Point, and Bob was on weekend leave with his fiancé (and his first wife, Rita Reinhardt) at the Naval Officers Club in Brooklyn. There he had a turn of events that he felt was a perhaps small but significant miracle: A civilian man engaged him and asked what his plans were when he graduated from the Academy? He said he would get out of the Army as soon as possible and become a pilot, his dream. The man was surprised: "What? And give up all that valuable military training you have had? Why?" When Bob explained, the man said, "If it is just a waiver that is preventing you from flying, come on into the Air Force. I will get you into pilot training." Amazed, Bob asked, "How could you possibly do that?" The man replied, "I work in the personnel office at the Pentagon and my job is to control waivers." Providence had shown her hand. Four days later, he transferred from the Signal Corps to the US Air Force. After seven months at Lockburne AFB in Columbus, Ohio, Bob was assigned to Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, TX and became a pilot. He did well and stayed on as an instructor pilot until he received a call from the Air Force Academy inviting him to get his Masters Degree in Spanish at Middlebury College and University of Madrid. He accepted with gratitude. After three and one half years as an Associate Professor of Spanish in the Language Department at the Air Force Academy (AFA), he was selected to be an Air Officer Commanding for a cadet squadron at the AFA. He married Rita Reinhardt in 1953. Daughter, Maria Martina was born in 1958, then daughter, Melanie Rita was born in 1961 and Lisa Ann in 1963. The Carlone's lost Maria to leukemia at 3½ years old after a courageous battle to save her life. She is buried at the AFA cemetery. With heavy hearts, they dedicated themselves to organizing a Colorado Springs chapter of the Leukemia Society and traveled widely to raise considerable money in hope of helping find a cure for this disease that takes so many lives. Their efforts resulted in their being named the Leukemia Society's National Poster Family and they received the "Service to Mankind Award" from Sertoma International. Following a five and ½ year tour at the AFA, he was assigned to be the pilot for General Westmoreland, then Superintendent of West Point. He served as the Superintendent's pilot for four years. His next assignment entailed a tour of duty at the Armed Forces Staff College. Following this was a one-year assignment to Vietnam where he flew C-123 aircraft participating in 163 combat missions. On one flight, supporting Khe Sahn, the largest air operation in Vietnam, his aircraft was hit with 130 rounds of enemy fire and he sustained injury yet landed the aircraft safely. For this he received the Silver Star, the third-highest award for bravery in combat given by the United States military and a Purple Heart of Valor. His duty there exposed him to Agent Orange and resulted in his contracting Type II diabetes that he had to work to manage the rest of this life. Upon return from Vietnam, the Carlone's moved to Virginia where Bob worked at the Pentagon, first in Plan and Programs then went on to become the Executive Officer to the Director of Civil Engineering. He retired in 1973, though service to the military was to remain a theme throughout the rest of his life. In 1976 they returned to Colorado Springs where Bob became active in commercial real estate. He was also very involved in Rotary International and founded the successful MexAm program, providing considerable means to combat intestinal disease in Mexico. After a divorce and move away from his home in Broadmoor Heights, in 1983 he married his love, Mary Mahon Bowman and moved back to his mountain home. There, the couple entertained frequently and were active in many community projects. They worked to develop "The Aspens," a military retirement community financed by a Canadian developer who had to withdraw his support due to personal challenges, and they decided to cancel the project to the dismay of many involved. At the start of military action in Iraq, Bob and a fellow retired Air Force Colonel, Joe Henjum, founded the highly successful non-profit, "The Homefront Cares"(THFC). Its launch was announced by Mayor Lionel Rivera at Colorado Springs City Hall on May 13, 2003. Their concept was to help under-resourced military families whose spouses, in all branches of the military, found themselves in harm's way since September 11, 2001. This far-reaching network filled in gaps in support that other programs were not able to bridge. Since its inception, THFC has provided direct support to 2582 military families in need, to date, through generous donations of over $4,000,000 from individuals, businesses and foundations. It was a powerful and worthy bookend to Bob's life, with its strong focus on his love for country. On a personal note, Bob loved his combined family with Mary, traveling, dancing, walking and three beloved little white dogs: Cuffie, Lady and Lucky. He and Mary lived a full and happy life, vibrant in the Colorado Springs community. Services will be held at St Paul's Catholic Church on Monday July 8th at 11am, 9 El Pomar Rd, 80906 with internment with military honors following at the Air Force Academy. In lieu of gifts, please send check donations to support "The Bob and Mary Carlone Fund" to The Homefront Cares at P.O. Box 38516, Colorado Springs, CO 80937-8516 or donate online at thehomefrontcares.org noting "The Bob and Mary Carlone Fund."
Published in The Gazette from July 4 to July 5, 2013
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