Lt. Col. Henry "Hank" P. Giedzinski, USMC (Ret.)
Henry Peter Giedzinski ("Hank"), 72, of Kennett Square, died on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, at LifeCare Hospital of Chester County.
Strong until the end, he was surrounded by his wife of 47 years, Kathleen Fagan Giedzinski, and his loving family.
Hank was born in New Britain, Conn., son of the late Henry A. Giedzinski and Cecilia Augustyn Giedzinski.
He graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in 1959, enlisted in the Navy, and was then selected to attend the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Bainbridge, Md. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1966, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps
Three days after graduation, Hank and Kathy were married at St. Maurice Church in New Britain.
During his career as a Marine Corps helicopter pilot, Hank flew 500 combat missions in Vietnam, was responsible for helicopter support during minesweeping of the Suez Canal, and was an instructor pilot in the U.S. and overseas. Most notably, he was a pilot in Marine Helicopter Squadron One in Quantico, Va., and was assigned to fly President Jimmy Carter. One of Hank's proudest moments was when he flew His Holiness Pope John Paul II during his first visit to the United States in 1979. Hank's final billet in the Presidential Helicopter Squad was as the executive officer.
Known as a dedicated leader and an officer of exceptional integrity whose military bearing was above reproach, Hank still had many dear friends from his days in New Britain, Annapolis, Quantico, Pensacola and New River. After 20 years of honorable military service, Hank retired from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel in 1985.
He, Kathy and family moved to Pennsylvania, where he worked as a project engineer for Boeing Vertol. Highly respected as an authority on the H-46 helicopter, his career at Boeing spanned 27 years until he retired in 2012.
Retirement allowed him to spend more time with his friends, family, children and grandchildren, and to enjoy daily walks with Kathy through the grounds of Winterthur and Longwood Gardens. They shared a love of boating, visiting Topsail Island in North Carolina, and watching sports. An avid fan of Navy football and an active alumnus, Hank held season tickets to the Navy games and enjoyed many fall visits to Annapolis. Go Navy!
In addition to his wife, Hank is survived by his daughter, Gail Mazzatenta (and husband Aaron) of Ashburn, Va.; his son, David Giedzinski (and wife Nichole), of York, Pa.; his daughter, Sara Lewis of Baton Rouge, La.; and his four grandchildren, Megan, Samuel, Adam and Cecilia. He also leaves two brothers-in-law, Peter Fagan (and wife Gail) and Jack Fagan (and wife Julie); his half brother, H.B. Giedzinski (and wife Stacy); and a number of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
You are invited to visit with Hank's family from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Home Inc., 250 W. State St., Kennett Square, 610-444-4116, and from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, at St. Cornelius Catholic Church, 160 Ridge Road, Chadds Ford.
His Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. on Friday at the church.
Interment with full military honors will be held at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Hank's name (Lt. Col. Henry P. Giedzinski) to Class of 1966 Cyber Center Gift, c/o United States Naval Academy, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402.
To view Hank's online tribute, please visit www.griecocares.com.