A CO, 1ST BN, 501ST INF RGT, 101 ABN DIV
Army of the United States
28 February 1948 - 25 May 1969
Panel 24W Line 104
Photo from "Vietnam: One Week's Dead",
LIFE Magazine Vol. 66, No. 25 June 27, 1969
The database page for Mario Lamelza
Mario was known as "Breeze" by his fellow soldiers. He was from North 7th Street in the Feltonville area of Philadelphia. He had immigrated to the U.S. with his parents and had hopes of becoming a citizen. He attended Olney High School and worked as an auto parts assemblyman and repairman before being drafted into the Army. A skilled NVA sniper fired a single well-aimed shot which killed Mario. It may have been the same sniper who killed his buddy Ralph Vitch during the same firefight.
From a Screaming Eagle researcher,
The following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY', October 26, 1987.
From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
I remember Mario from the 1963-64 (I believe) school year at Olney High. We were in at least one class together (gym), and if my memory still serves me, the other class was English. I still vividly remember Mr. Spizirri "getting on" us boys for wearing high black socks. For some reason, Mr. S used to single out Mario, probably because he was the first boy in his particular line.
Even though Mario and I were only acquaintances, I have always remembered him throughout the years. I still recall the day I recognized his picture in the famous Life magazine article back in 1969.
Since 1995 I have visited Vietnam on an annual basis during my summer vacation. Mario is one of those boys from Olney High whose memory is next to my heart on my travels from Hanoi to Saigon.
I was pleased to see that Mario's name was added this year to the Philadelphia listing of fallen soldiers. I think it's also quite ironic that Mario was born in Australia, and I've spent a good amount of time there over the last 30 years.
I hope that if any of Mario's family members see my thoughts, he or she may feel uplifted that Mario is still fondly remembered by a boyhood classmate.
Bill Holden, Olney High 1966
A Note from The Virtual WallAlpha Company, 1/501st Infantry, lost two men on 25 May 1969, CPL Mario Lamelza and SP4 Ralph A. Vitch of Tampa, Florida.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009