OSWEGO — Leonard Albert Maniccia, 96, died Saturday, March 14, 2020.
He was born in Oswego on Nov. 23, 1923 to Giuseppe Maniccia and Christina (Reitz) Maniccia. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Anna; his children, Christina (Erik King), Albert (Suzanne) Maniccia; and one grandson, Lucas Maniccia.
Against his father’s wishes, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army, but was later drafted into service in March 1943. He served until March 1946.
He first served as a radio operator in a searchlight radar outfit at Otis Army Air Field in Massachusetts. He was slated to go to Japan, however when the Battle of the Bulge broke out, so many men were lost that they were in need of riflemen in the infantry to go to Europe. He was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division, 60 Infantry Regiment, Company L 3rd platoon, as a bazooka man.
Leonard’s outfit was the first infantry division to cross the Rhine into Germany. The 9th Armored Division captured and held the span — officially known as the Ludendorff Bridge — March 7, 1945. After a night-long road march, the 9th Infantry crossed the bridge and expanded the bridgehead. Dubbed the “Miracle of Remagen,” the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge opened the way for Allied troops to drive into the heart of Germany.
He was awarded the following medals: The Combat Infantry Badge, European African Middle Eastern Campaign (with two Battlestars for the Rhineland and Central Germany), Bronze Star (Valor), WWII Victory, Good Conduct, New York State Conspicuous Service Cross and Honorable Discharge.
Upon returning to Oswego he got his high school diploma, then attended a veteran’s vocational school in Troy, New York, to study air conditioning, refrigeration and heating. After school, he worked at the Army Airbase in Syracuse, where he taught commercial refrigeration and air conditioning to other veterans.
He then started at SUNY Oswego where he eventually became the air conditioning and refrigeration supervisor, scheduling all the maintenance work for 48 buildings on campus. He was with the college for 22 years until he retired in 1986. He continued to be consulted by the college in all things HVAC after his retirement. He also owned his own commercial HVAC business, Maniccia Refrigeration. He was a member of the Refrigeration Engineers Society for 65 years.
Leonard was awarded the Veteran of the Year in 2015 by Oswego’s local Veterans Council.
A celebration of his life will be planned for a later date.
Nelson Funeral Home has care of arrangements.