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Alfred Michael Petrogallo, age 93, passed away peacefully at his home in Columbia, Maryland, on October 27, 2018. He was born on February 19, 1925 in Altoona, Pennsylvania to Michael Ross and Gilda (Sciarillo) Petrogallo. He was the second oldest and sole survivor of his four siblings (Ellen Lioy, Rudolph "Rudy" Petrogallo, Bettie Labriola and Emma Palmeri).
Mr. Petrogallo began his federal service in June 1943, as a draftee for World War II, just two days following his high school graduation. He served with the Army's 190th Field Artillery Group. Following seventeen weeks of boot camp at Fort Bragg, NC, his Group prepared to travel on the Queen Elizabeth to Greenock, Scotland, arriving in December 1943. After five months of training and field exercises, his Group traveled to Falmouth, England, where they boarded landing crafts for Normandy, France. Mr. Petrogallo landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day+1. He engaged in combat for the duration of the war, through France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia, the Battle of the Bulge and liberated two concentration camps. His military decorations include the American Campaign Medal; the European, African and Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with the Normandy Invasion Arrowhead and five bronze battle stars (Normandy, Central Europe, Rhineland, Ruhr and Ardennes/Battle of the Bulge); the World War II Victory Medal, the Army Occupation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. He returned home for discharge on October 30, 1945, four months prior to his 21st birthday; and as he often reflected upon, still not of legal age to drink or vote.
Following a brief tenure working for the Pennsylvania Railroad, Mr. Petrogallo attended the Western Pennsylvania Horological Institute in Pittsburgh, PA, studying business administration and horology (watchmaking). Upon graduation, he worked as a watchmaker in Bellefonte, PA, married his wife of 69 years, Elizabeth "Betty" Spinazzola, and was recalled to active duty in August, 1950, during the Korean War. His initial assignment was to Ft. Eustis, VA, then to the Ordnance School in Aberdeen, MD. He completed his military obligation in May, 1952 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, as the Senior Enlisted Instructor of the Fire Control Division. Upon discharge, he accepted a position as a civilian instructor in the Precision Instruments Division of the Ordnance School. Following a series of promotions, he became the Assistant Director of the Weapons Training Department, and retired from the position of Chief, Program Management Office of the U.S. Army Ordnance School.
Throughout retirement, Mr. Petrogallo enjoyed the freedom to pursue hobbies, spend much quality time with his children and grandchildren, and travel with his wife and family. He especially enjoyed returning home to visit family and friends in Altoona and regularly attend his annual WWII Reunion with the 190th Field Artillery Group. He played a wide range of string and wind instruments, performed with various guitar and banjo combos, and ultimately became the band conductor of the Golden Aires in Howard County, MD. He sang; he performed; he entertained and was quite the storyteller and comedian. He rarely found himself in a situation where he didn't have a related joke to share and entertain all those around him. When he approached you with his sweet and precious smile, you could often count on the fact that a new joke was not too far behind. Mr. Petrogallo was a lifetime member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, and the Loyal Order of the Moose. He was a true patriot and a proud American.
Mr. Petrogallo is survived by his beloved wife, Betty, his three daughters, who he lovingly referred to as his "PetroGals": Denise Petrogallo, Michele Pearlman (Steven) and Janette McAnallen (Stephen), five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. His legacy will manifest itself through his family's love of music, humor, travel and country.
Flowers are welcome; Memorial contributions may be sent to the charity of your choice.