Patrick L. Gualtieri, a U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam who helped build a struggling New York City Veterans Day Parade into America’s Parade, the largest celebration of service in America, died July 21 after a short illness.
Pat Gualtieri, 70, was born and raised in Brooklyn. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, including a one-year tour in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive.
He once described lying in the jungle watching as “Puff,” an American gunship, rained fire on North Vietnemese regulars during Tet. “I had mixed feelings, happy to be alive, yet saddened that so many would die.”
After a career in event production in Los Angeles, Pat returned to New York City in 2000 to take over the struggling Veterans Day Parade. As executive director of the United War Veterans Council, producers of the parade, Gualtieri built the annual event into America’s Parade, the largest celebration of service in the nation.
The parade now includes more than 25,000 participants, including active duty military units, veterans organizations, high school marching bands from around the nations, top elected officials from New York City and New York State and the highest ranking U.S. military commanders.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators line Fifth Avenue on November 11 to pay tribute to veterans. Pat also has arranged to have the parade broadcast nationwide and of Armed Forces TV to every U.S. military installation and ship in the world.
“The veterans community mourns the loss of a giant, who devoted his life to honoring those who served,” said Vincent McGowan, founding president of the United War Veterans Council. “Pat’s boundless energy and unflagging good will helped drive our efforts to shape a world-class effort to honor service on November 11 and every day of the year.”
Pat is survived by two daughters, Tara Mendelson and Gayla Gualtieri; a brother, Joseph, a grandson and a granddaughter and his life partner, Marlene ‘Molly’ Levi.
PAT GUALTIERI MEMORIAL INFORMATION
For those wishing to join us in paying final respects to Pat, here is the information:
Cusimano & Russo Funeral Home
2005 West 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11223.
Saturday, 2 – 5 p.m. and 7 – 10 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Memorial donations may be made to Friends of Vietnam Veterans Plaza and The United War Veterans Council.