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  • Thursday, November 12, 2015

    Boys State Icon Al Paviglianti Passes at 92

    Legionnaire Albert Paviglianti was a proud World World II marine who, at the age of 92, passed on to Post Everlasting on Nov. 10, 2015 – fittingly, on the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

    Al fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima, and, as Past Department Commander Mike Bowen was fond of telling during his tenure, Al was part of the 40-man patrol that took the American flag up to the top of Mount Suribachi. Al was there when fellow marines raised Old Glory for the first time, inspiring the troops below. The second flag raising several hours later, captured by AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal, was the one that inspired a nation.

    Al Paviglianti

    Al Paviglianti

    Al was an active member of the American Legion for nearly 70 years at the post, county, state and national levels. Al, who hailed from Canastota and was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2011, was past commander of Charles Miller Post 140 in Canastota, past Madison County Legion commander, past department commander’s aide, former National Americanism Commission vice chairman, and past president of the New York American Legion Press Association.

    Department Photographer Doug Malin recalls the time at one national convention when a young man came up and asked if he knew the New York veteran who fought on Iwo Jima. He immediately introduced him to Al Paviglianti, as the young man spoke of his dad who survived a crash-landing on the island. “I remember that,” Al responded, recalling how he was one of the marines scrambling to prepare an emergency airstrip. Al had taken out his camera, thinking planes were going to crash. It turned out, Doug said, that Al had snapped a shot of marines pulling the young man’s dad from the plane.

    Al Paviglianti at Boys State

    Al Paviglianti at Boys State / Photo by Doug Main.

    Al believed so strongly in the value of American Legion Boys State that he spent 40 years at the annual week-long immersion in citizenship as a counselor, and many years as an assistant program director.

    “Al was an icon at Boys State,” Doug Malin notes. “He was like the Pied Piper of the students at Boys State. The kids loved him.”

    Born in New York City in 1923, Al served four years in the Marine Corps and held the rank of sergeant. He attended Fordham University and Syracuse University, and graduated from NYU. Al worked for RCA, and later for IBM in Glendale for 30 years, retiring in 1984. Al lived in Vestal for many years, active in the Legion there, before moving to Canastota in 1985. He also was active in other veterans organizations, including the VFW and the 40 & 8.

    Al first married Joan Major on Oct. 30, 1947, in Binghamton. Joan died on May 26, 1984. He later married Helen (Utz) Clark on Aug. 17, 1985, in Canastota. Surviving besides his wife, Helen, are: three sons and daughters-in-law; three daughters and two sons-in-law; a step-son and step-daughter; another son-in-law; 22 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; several great great-grandchildren.

    Funeral services are at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, at St. Agatha’s Church, 329 N. Peterboro St., Canastota. Burial with military honors will be at noon on Nov. 17 in Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City, N.Y. Calling hours will be held on Sunday, from 2-5 p.m. at the J. Homer Ball Funeral Home, Inc., 201 James St., Canastota. The Post and County Legion are holding Legion services at 1:30 at the funeral home prior to calling hours on Sunday.

    In his memory, contributions may be made to the American Legion Charles Miller Post No.140, P.O. Box 13, Canastota, N.Y. 13032, or to the American Legion Department of New York State, Boys State, 112 State St., Suite 1300, Albany, N.Y. 12207, with envelopes available at the funeral home.