Anthony Napoli, age 89, of Hollis, NH and Cabot, VT died peacefully at his home in Vermont surrounded by his family on November 24,2023.
Anthony was born in Flushing, NY on December 22, 1933, to Antonino and Isabella (Cipolla) Napoli, first generation Italian immigrants. He attended PS 163 Elementary School and Flushing High School graduating in 1951, followed by New York University, graduating in 1955 with a BS Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. In 1976 he received his MBA from Central Michigan University. After graduating from New York University, Anthony worked for a year in Baltimore, MD for Glen L. Martin Company in the Advanced Design Department on the Sea Mistress Jet Propelled Seaplane. He was active in the ROTC during college and joined the US Air Force as a Second Lieutenant in February of 1956. Anthony advanced through Spence Air Force Base, GA Flying Training, training on the T-28,T-34. He then went to Greenville, MS for jet fighter training in T-33’s and Moody Air Force Base, Georgia for Interceptor Training on the F86B/L. After receiving his pilot wings, he was assigned to the 440th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Erding, Germany where he was responsible as a fighter pilot for overlooking the Air Defense Network in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Switzerland. In 1959 he was picked by the Wing Commander of the 86th Fighter Wing to be the Liaison Officer at the Brindisi Air Force Base, Italy to initiate a Rocket Firing Interceptor Gunnery Range. While stationed in Germany he met the love of his life, Christel Elsa Herta Wolf, in Berlin, Germany. They were married September 1959 in Erding, Germany and began their military life, moving 23 times in 27 years in the Air Force. After completion of his tour in Germany in 1959 he trained and was assigned for 4 years as an Air Defense Controller and spent his last year in Iceland. He was instrumental in alerting the North American Air Defense Command of the flight of the first Russian Bear aircraft to Cuba after scrambling 4 F-102’s from Keflavik Air Force Base to intercept and identify an unknown aircraft as a Tupolev TU-95. Upon returning to the States he went to F-102 fighters at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, NC and from there to Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, KS changing from F-102s to F-106’s flying Air Defense for NORAD.
In 1969, he deployed to Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base, Vietnam in RF4Cs (Reconnaissance Fighters). He and his navigators flew both In-country and Out- country (North Vietnam and Laos) Reconnaissance missions. Their motto was “Alone, Unarmed and Unafraid”. He flew 163 missions earning 9 Air Medals for missions flown and 2 Distinguished Flying Cross medals for courage under enemy fire. During one of his missions, he and his navigator received battle damage. Streaming fuel from the damaged aircraft he flew the crippled plane back to DaNang making an approach barrier engagement due to a hole in the wing and loss of brakes. After temporary repairs to the aircraft, he was tasked to fly it from Saigon, Vietnam to the United States via Clark Air Force Base, Philippines to Guam, to Hickman Air Force Base, Hawaii to Sacramento, CA refueling midair throughout the journey.
After a distinguished flying career, Anthony was assigned to Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base, MD in 1973 where he served as the new Fighter Programs Systems Officer and Flight Director in Research and Development. He worked on many programs most notably the F15, YF16, A10, YF17 and the development of the F22 as well as being instrumental in launching the Joint Stars Program. Anthony served for 4 years as Chairman of a multinational NATO committee which developed a Standard NATO Agreement on Target Identification. He was also involved in a 6-month study in Woods Hole, MA on Close Air Support that included both academic and military experts. He conducted various studies in the development of Tactical Weapons. He retired as a Full Colonel in 1984 after 28 years of active service in the USAF.
Military honors and awards include Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and others.
Besides airplanes and flying, Anthony’s interests included engineering and chemistry. He enjoyed traveling, camping, family vacations and built their dream summer home in Cabot, Vermont where he and the family have spent 52 wonderful years.
Survivors include his loving wife of 64 years: Christel Napoli of Hollis, NH and Cabot, VT; three daughters: Angela Markwell and partner Susan Powell of Culpeper, VA, Diane Napoli Williams and husband Christopher of Salida, CO, and Patricia Bishop and husband Kevin of Glastonbury, CT; seven grandchildren: Christina, Erin, Laura, Anthony, Sabrina, Katherine, and Nicholas and one great-grandchild: Liam; and two nieces: Carol Kipp and Elizabeth Halstead.
He was predeceased by his parents; a sister: Mary Meli; and a cousin: John Licastro.
Friends may call on the family Wednesday, December 6, 2023, 6-8PM at Sayles Funeral Home, 525 Summer Street, St. Johnsbury, VT. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, December 7, 2023, 10:00AM at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Winter Street, St. Johnsbury, VT. Burial will be in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donation be made to Good Shepard Catholic School, 121 Maple Street, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819; 802-751-8223; email@example.com.
Memories and condolences can be shared at CaledoniaLifeServices.com