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Veteran's Spotlight: Air Force Repairman Mario Dell’aera

U.S. Air Force Veteran Mario Dell’aera, 80, of Levittown said he first volunteered for service in 1952, during the Korean War.

 

“They called volunteers ‘regulars,’” he said, reflecting back to when he first enlisted.

 

From 1952-1956, Dell’era called the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev. home. The base, he said, operated 24 hours, 7 days a week, training pilots to fly overseas into Korea.

 

He said that the training that would normally take 14 weeks was curbed to an 8-week crash course in order to prepare for battle. 

 

To have completed the training would be required to take a final exam every night when they lowered the flag at sundown.

 

“In order to graduate, a pilot would have to break the sound barrier,” Dell’aera said without reservation. 

 

During his time in the Air Force, Dell’aera worked on several planes including the T-33 airplane, which the government had stolen from the Russians. Of all the aircraft he worked on, he said, his favorite was the F-86.

 

“If we didn’t have that we wouldn’t have won the war,” he said.

 

Dell’aera said he also remembers watching the U.S. Military testing of the atomic bomb out in the desert. 

 

“We’d sit on top of the barracks,” he said, adding that people sat and watched from the Las Vegas strip.

 

Dell’aera continued in aeronautics after the war, getting a job with Air Research, a firm which he worked for 53 years as a project coordinator. Six years ago, when he retired, Dell’aera recieved the Charles Taylor award-named after the Wright Brothers’ mechanic-his name was also put on record with the FAA in Washington D.C. 

 

On Dec. 3, 1963, Dell’Aera left his home in the Bronx, headed for Levittown, where he raised four kids with his wife, who recently passed.

 

Dell’Aera recalls seeing farms all along Hempstead Turnpike. 

 

Back when William Levitt first constructed the more than 17,000 houses for GI’s returning from World War II, he had no idea the population boom that would follow. 

 

“Now, [with the population larger] it’s hard to find an original Levitt home,” Dell’aera said.

 

Today, ‘Red’ said, he keeps busy doing pro bono work for senior citizens as well as interior maintenance for the American Legion Post #1711, where he has been a member for 18 years. Of all his work with the Legion, Dell’aera said he enjoys the flag etiquette program and assembling the 110 flags for Memorial Day.

News

More than 475 runners from all across Long Island, came together on Aug. 30, for the tenth annual Companions in Courage one-mile run.

 

For Andrea Kopatka, 49, of Levittown, this was her first race in three years. 

 

“I wanted to run this race before I turned 50,” she said. “It was on my bucket list.” 

Over the summer, 13-year-old Zachary Martin of Levittown was named an All-American athlete for his performance on the gridiron, earning him an invitation to the ninth annual Offense-Defense Youth All-American Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

 

Martin, a defensive lineman for the Wisdom Lane Middle School Wildcats, said he was selected among a group of young athletes after attending a rigorous five-day football camp at LIU Post.  


Sports

The National Brain Tumor Society hosts its Long Island Brain Tumor Walk on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Jones Beach State Park, 1000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh. Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. Programs and activities run from 8 a.m. to noon.

Michelle Duffy of Levittown was recently named head coach for the Blue Angels’ cross country program at the College of New Rochelle. 

 

“We are very pleased to have a coach with Michelle’s pedigree take the reins of our cross country program,” said Athletics Director Harold Crocker. “Her success athletically and academically, as well as her ability to mentor and guide young women, makes her the ideal coach for the Blue Angels.”


Calendar

Island Trees Board of Education - September 17

Mini-College Fair - September 17

All-Star Comedy Show - September 18


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com