Felix Napoliello

Obituary of Felix F. Napoliello

Felix Napoliello was born August 6, 1917 and resided in Cedar Brook, Winslow Township, NJ. He passed on August 4, 2010 at the age of 93. He was preceded in death by the love of his life, his wife of 64 years, Rose (nee Colanduno) in November of 2008; his brothers: Daniel, Charles, Isadore and his wife Edna (nee Calerese), Caesar and his wife Therese (nee Sierznski), sisters: Tomasina and her husband Frank D'Alacandro; Esther and Mildred and his sister in law Angela (nee Mazzeo) and his brother in law Joseph Aiello. Felix was one of 12 children. Surviving are devoted brothers: Steven and sister in law Gloria (nee Winters) of Cinnaminson, Frederick and Bonnie (nee Blakeslee) of Cedar Brook, Joseph of Hammonton, and devoted Sister Mary Aiello, of Hammonton and Sister in Law Jennette (nee Ordilli) of Clairmont, Ca. He is also survived by 110 nephews and nieces throughout the country. Felix graduated from Camden County Vocational School in 1935. He worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in security. He began his military career with his, inseparable, brother Joseph on October 15, 1938 by enlisting in the Army Engineers. They served at Ft. DuPont Delaware and Puerto Rico until October 1941. Felix re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January 1942 following the WWII initiated Pearl Harbor attack. After aerial gunnery school, Felix served as a B25B crew - member, tail gunner, for 60 combat missions in the 12th Army Air Force, 57th Wing, 321st Bomb Group, 446th Medium Bomber Squadron, in North Africa-1942 - 1943. His squadron did bombing and strafing support work for Patton's ground forces and took part in the battle for the Mediterranean Island of Pantellaria, histories first surrender to strictly air power. During those battles, he earned his first Air Medal, Purple Heart, and first Distinguished Flying Cross. After one year of recuperation, marriage to his beloved "Rosie," and additional combat training, re outfitting, his flight team returned (1944 - 1945) to combat in Southern Europe/Italian campaign. The 321st Bomb Group, 446th Medium (B25C) Bomber Squadron, engaged in 45 more combat missions. On one of those missions on Porto Ferraio, Elba, Felix was shot down into "the drink" of the Mediterranean. With one engine out, and the left wing on fire, Felix while wounded and in intense pain stayed at his gun position, to protect their plane from fighter plane rear attacks so they could complete their bombing run. While exiting the target area, the plane became totally engulfed in flames. Every crewmember was wounded from anti - aircraft fire and the pilot commander ordered "all hands out". Felix was supposed to pull the lanyard and release the plexi - glass enclosure and bail out from his tail - gun position but he choose to go forward to the bomb bay area and assist the, most wounded, waste gunner/engineer and the wounded pilot whose shoot straps were snagged in some flight deck equipment. For that mission, he and his crew were awarded the DFC, on July 24, 1944. It was Felix's second DFC. Felix served for a total of 105 combat missions in North Africa and Europe. He is the recipient of the following combat medals: 2 Purple Hearts, 1 Bronze Star, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Air Medals, 2 Unit Citations, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal [Army & Air Force], American Defense Medal, American Service Medal, North Africa-Mediterranean Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal (campaign stars), Viet Nam Campaign Medal, North Africa, Southern Europe, and Mediterranean Campaign Citation Ribbons. He also served one year (6/67 to 6/68) in Vietnam where he was awarded a Bronze Star. He was injured in Vietnam and suffered, in his latest years, till the end from it with severe crippling leg injuries. He also participated in 12 "Special Category Z" Vietnam air missions from Okinawa. Felix retired as a Chief Master Sergeant from the Air force with 32 years (four years reserve) in January 1970. He spent most of those active service years as a maintenance chief with the Strategic Air Command. He served some billets as Base Command Chief Master Sergeant. He and his wife Rose served on community social work in the cities and towns where they were based and lived. Felix most of the time managed military and civilian kids baseball teams and won many league championships. In civilian life, after retirement, he and Rose built and lived in their new dream home in his beloved Cedar Brook, where he also managed many baseball teams. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday 11:00am at the Parish of Blessed John 23rd/Sacred Heart Church, 119 N. Route 73 Cedar Brook, where a viewing will be held from 9:30am until 10:45am. Burial will follow in Brigadier General Wm. C. Doyle Veterans Cemetery, Wrightstown. Memorial donations are requested to the Winslow EMS, P.O. Box 3, Cedar Brook, NJ 08018.
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