On Monday we lost a Hometown Hero. A man, a father, a husband, a Marine. Nicholas Mainiero, age 94, passed away peacefully in Danbury. Nick had a life that seemed to be larger-than-life at times. Born in Dobbs Ferry, NY on August 22, 1922, he was a longtime resident of Bridgeport. Nick graduated from Central High School (class of 1939) and played on both championship football and basketball teams. When World War II broke out and his country needed him, Nick answered the call. Volunteering for the U.S. Marine Corps, Nick valiantly flew into combat to beat back the tyranny of the Japanese Empire.
Flying as a division leader on December 14th, Second Lieutenant Mainiero blasted one of the enemy’s 20-mm guns and, following his bombing run, was returning to strafe hostile positions around the weapon when an anti-aircraft projectile exploded inside his plane, blinding him in one eye and inflicting a deep wound in his right arm. Continuing the attack despite his great pain and severe physical disability, he succeeded in blowing up an ammunition supply dump and, applying a tourniquet to his wounded arm. Returning to base he executed a safe landing. His superb airmanship, gallant fortitude, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave danger were inspiring to the personnel of Marine Fighting Squadron 441 which earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war, Nick was the owner and operator of the Crystal Palace on Main Street in Bridgeport. After that he went on to become the manager of the Sikorsky Memorial Airport for more than 20 years. It was during this time that Nick spearheaded the recovery of FG-1D Corsair #92460 from El Salvador to be put on outdoor display at the airport as a memorial to the men and women who built and flew the famous fighter-plane during the war. In 2008 the Connecticut Air & Space Center began an extensive restoration program to restore the Corsair back to museum quality static display condition. Nick would visit the museum almost every week, supervising the project and restoration crew; making sure we did the job right on “his” airplane. Whether he was telling stories, throwing jokes around, or just simply watching the activity in the shop quietly from a corner, you could always count on Nick to be there.
The museum won’t be the same now without him, but his memory will certainly live on here. Nick was an indelible, kind, witty, and honest person that deserves to be remembered for future generations. We at the Connecticut Air & Space Center will do our absolute best to accomplish just that. So on this day we raise a glass and toast to you sir. Semper Fi! and Blue Skies Mr. Mainiero. At ease.
Funeral services will take place on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. in the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home, 419 White Plains Rd., Trumbull. Interment with full military honors will follow in St. Michael Cemetery, Stratford. Relatives and friends may greet the family on Friday from 4-7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the Connecticut Air & Space Center, 550 Main St., Stratford, CT 06615, http://www.cascstratford.wordpress.com
or to Regional Hospice, 30 Milestone Rd., Danbury, CT 06810, http://www.regionalhospicect.org