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Former veteran’s post commander, Joe Mazzariello, dies

Joe Mazzariello will be remembered as many things – from a loving father and devoted husband, to a man that cared about his fellow veterans and did everything he could to make their lives easier.

Mazzariello, who was 59, passed away after a battle with bone cancer. He was a former commander at the Theodore Korony American Legion Post 253 in Throggs Neck, which he first joined in the early 1970s after moving to the area from the west Bronx.

He will be best remembered for organizing the post’s annual Toys For Tots drive, as well as for working with newly returning veterans at the John J. Peters VA Medical Center. He helped soldiers and sailors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan navigate through bureaucracy to get needed care and benefits. He was also a driving force behind the creation of Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park in the 1970s.

“Joe is the perfect example of someone who bloomed where he was planted,” said veterans advocate and friend Pat Devine. “It was very simple: if someone needed a hand he helped him out; that is just what Joe used to do.”

Mazzariello joined the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and earned two purple hearts during his time in the service. He spent four years in the USMC, serving with the second battalion. Aside from being post commander, he was the secretary for the national veterans organization Second Battalion of the First Marines.

Devine said that Mazzariello was a black-belt in Judo who helped teach martial arts at the post and the Bronx Y.M.C.A., where he was coach and referee in their summer program.

In addition to being physically active, Mazzariello was an ordained minister in Melcheizdek’s priesthood – a sect of Christianity that traces it roots back to the teacher of Abraham in the Old Testament.

Mazzariello was born in Arthur Avenue and grew up near Third Avenue. He is survived by his wife Jackie, daughter Danielle who is a teacher at Iona Prep, and son Joseph Jr. who is an NYPD officer, and a granddaughter.

“Being in combat in Vietnam can teach you a lot of things,” said friend and fellow veteran Tom Hanson, also a former commander of the Korony post. “Joe realized that he could serve his fellow man by finding the good in each individual person.”

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