Col. Salvatore A. Mauriello, a decorated veteran of World War II and commander of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base in the early 1970s, died Thursday in Our Lady of Peace Nursing Home. He was 87.
A Schenectady native, he graduated from Nott Terrace High School and had a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Siena College. He did graduate work in chemistry at the University of Buffalo.
He earned his private pilot certificate in 1939.
He joined the Army in 1942 and transferred to the Army Air Force as an aviation cadet, graduating in 1943 as a second lieutenant.
He earned his pilot wings and was assigned to the 8th Air Force, 2nd Division, 453rd Bomber Group, 734th Squadron at Old Buckingham Airfield in England.
He flew 31 combat bombing missions over Europe, including the D-Day invasion of Normandy, in B-24 Liberators. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
When Col. Mauriello returned from Europe, he was assigned to the Technical Intelligence division as branch chief, working with immigrating German scientists on "Project Paperclip" at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The project was the forerunner of today's space program. Later he served as chief of ground school at Wright Patterson Instrument School, teaching new pilots.
When he returned from active duty, he transferred to the Air National Guard.
In 1951, he joined Bell Aircraft and became chief of publications engineers and technical data manager on the Dyna-Soar program, which attempted to develop a manned orbital space glider. He also worked briefly on Bell's rocket belt.
While at Bell, he continued his military career with the 107th Air Defense Wing of the New York Air National Guard. He completed Command and Staff College at Maxwell Field, Ala. in 1957.
Col. Mauriello left Bell and took command of the 328th Troop Carrier Squadron at Niagara Falls Air Base. He later was promoted to commander of the 914th Tactical Airlift Group and in 1970 was promoted to base commander, retiring in 1973. He remained at the air base as civil service administrator until his civilian retirement in 1983.
He was honored for his duty and commitment in September 2001, and a street on the base was renamed Mauriello Lane.
Col. Mauriello was active in many organizations, including the Lewiston-Queenston Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus, Reserve Officers Association and Air Force Association. He also served on the board of directors of the local chapter of the Salvation Army.
He was also adopted by the Tuscarora Nation as an honorary chief, won many golf tournaments at the Niagara Falls Country Club and shot two holes-in-one.
Survivors include his wife, the former Dorine Dawn Van Dolah; a son, Michael R. of Houston; and two sisters, Helen DiSarro Williams of Scotia and Victoria Fontana of Dallas.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Chapel, 2510 Kirkbridge Drive. Col. Mauriello donated his body to the University at Buffalo Anatomical Gift Program.