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John Vincent Spagnoli


1925 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
John Vincent Spagnoli Obituary
October 18, 1925 - June 7, 2018 We are saddened to announce the passing of this remarkable man, one of the greatest generation, who slipped the bonds of earth on Thursday June 7th. In his own words – "I lived a charmed life." Born to Samuel and Frances (Pettinatti) Spagnoli in 1925, he grew up in Queens, New York with his older sister Irene and younger sister Helen. After graduating from Newtown High School in 1943, he convinced his parents to allow him to join the U.S. Army at age 17 as part of the Army Specialized Training Program, which provided a promise of earning an engineering degree. After completing basic training in April, 1944 he attempted to become a paratrooper, which required him to overcome his poor eyesight by memorizing the six possible eyecharts. After being accepted into parachute school, his deception was discovered and he was transferred to an infantry division. The Day after his 19th birthday he got shipping orders and joined the 63rd (Blood and Fire) Division, at Fort Jackson, Mississippi where he was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 253rd Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Division. Transport on a liberty ship to France quickly followed, landing in Marseilles, France on December 8, 1944. Moving north along the French/German border they saw combat immediately. On December 22nd, they arrived in Colmar, France where a battle known as the Colmar Pocket would commence at the same time as the Battle of the Bulge. He and his mates dug in and held their line as U.S. troops retreated from the advancing Germans. The battle lasted 10 days in the bitter cold. John and his foxhole buddy were among the few to survive and successfully help prevent the German advance. Following the Colmar battle, his division crossed into Germany. He earned a Bronze Star on April 5, 1945 for his "heroic achievement in action" in the vicinity of Mockmuhl, Germany, when he "left his covered position and under intense enemy fire went to the aid of an injured member of his squad, rendering first aid and assisting in evacuating the wounded soldier." He and his squad made it to Berlin at the end of the war, where he transferred to the 78th Infantry Division and became an acting first sergeant responsible for guarding the homes of US dignitaries in Berlin. On June 6, 2014, the French Ambassador presented John with the French Medal of Honor in recognition of his service in France. After returning from the war, John attended Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1950 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He then began a long career in aerospace working for Republic Aviation; Sperry Gyroscope; Lear, Inc.; Gyrodyne; and ITT Gilfillan, among others, on many interesting defense contracts and projects including early development of drones. In 1951, John met the first love of his life, Marjorie Tietz through their mutual employment at Sperry in Long Island, NY. After marrying on April 5, 1952 they spent two years in Italy, where John served under contract to the U.S. Airforce. They returned home to the states in early 1955 with their first child, Leslie John, on the way. After Les's birth in 1955, John and Marge welcomed four girls, Christine, Constance, Jean and Patricia in quick succession. John moved the family to Southern California in 1966 where he spent the remaining years of his life, most recently in Santa Monica, California. After Marge passed in 1991 at the young age of 68, John met and fell in love with Elayne Briennes. They were a happy couple for many years until she too passed away. As he often remarked, he was amazingly lucky to have had the love of two beautiful and remarkable women. John is survived by his sister Helen, children and their spouses, Les and TammyLee Spagnoli; Christine Spagnoli; Connie and Jeff Nelson; Jean Spagnoli and Christopher Mills; Patricia and James Palmer, and his grandchildren, Karlee, Kyle, Brooklyn, Nathan, Vanessa, Carl and James and great grandchildren, Jaxson, Liam, James, Clayton, Colton, Isabella, Madison and Ryley. Please consider a donation to one of the following in memory of John Spagnoli: Fisher House (provides housing for veterans and their families) www.fisherhouse.org or the , www.alz.org.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from June 11 to June 12, 2018
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