Henry Anthony Mastracco, of 9 Crouse Boulevard, St. Johnsville, NY passed away on November 27th, 2017. He would have been 92 years old on December 1st.
Henry was born in Canajoharie, NY in 1925, the son of Pietro Marchello Mastracco and Jenovina (Jenny) Nalli, immigrants from Italy. Along with his brother Joseph and sister Mary, he was educated in public schools in St. Johnsville. In grade school, he regularly pulled the pig tails of his classmate, Mary Croce.
In 1944, as many young men his age knew they would eventually be drafted, he enlisted in the United States Navy. Years later, visiting his son in Washington, coming upon on a monument to the five Sullivan Brothers on Capitol Hill, he shared the story of how he convinced his mother to sign his enlistment papers. Henry brought his mother to Smalley’s Theater in St. Johnsville, where he worked as a projectionist, to see a movie called The Fighting Sullivans. Unaware of how the film ended, with all five brothers killed in action in the battle of Guadalcanal, he thought his chances for enlistment gone, until his mother in her broken English said to him, "I'll sign, you go."
Henry was among many recruits who were trained at NTS Sampson in upstate NY, and then at the amphibious training center in Little Creek, Virginia, then known as Camp Bradford. He served aboard the USS New York in training before being assigned to LST-914, an amphibious assault craft. The 914 was laid down in February of 1944 at Hingham, Massachusetts, the same month that Henry enlisted.
During the war, Henry served as a gunners mate seeing action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Along with his shipmates, he saw action in North Africa, Sicily, and in Southern France as part of Operation Dragoon. Sailing from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Panama Canal, the 914 made a stop at Pearl Harbor, where he caught up with his brother who was stationed there. Leaving Pearl, Henry sailed for Okinawa where his ship would become part of the invasion force in Operation Iceberg. The liberation of Okinawa began on April 1st, 1945. Henry would remark years later, that on that April Fools Day in 1945, "we were all fools".
Henry reached the rank of Seaman First Class and was honorably discharged in May of 1946. As a member of the crew of LST-914, Henry earned the American Theater Medal, the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Star, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with Star, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Upon returning to the states, like many American veterans, he found work where could, factories in Dolgeville, Ilion, Utica, and Canajoharie, the later where he spent over 25 years at the Beech Nut Company. His political values were manifested in his work ethic, serving as an organizer for the AFL-CIO and later at Beech Nut serving as the local union's chief shop steward and then later as a negotiator for the Beech Nut Employees Association when it merged with the Bakers and Confectioners union.
A communicate at St. Patrick's Church in St. Johnsville, Henry was a dedicated parishioner often providing his time and labor in support of the parish he loved. He was among those who painted and maintained the church proper. Henry served for many years as a Cub Pack Leader for Troop 71 in St. Johnsville. He loved music and would often sing along with recordings of Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti and his favorite, Dean Martin. His years as a projectionist allowed him to name supporting actors in many classic movies, without hesitation. His sense of humor was understated but ever present, making a point to always see the latest Jerry Lewis film, taking his son along.
On June 14th, 1953, Henry married the girl whose pigtails he pulled in grade school. Mary would make it a point to remind everyone that flags were raised to not only champion patriotism and devotion to country, but also their anniversary. ‘Mary and Hank' celebrated over 64 years of marriage together. Mary said he was so friendly, he could "make friends with a stone". His love of cats and many other of nature’s creatures revealed his gentle heart. Always there to help anyone, whether it was shoveling someone’s driveway before his own in the winter, or giving a ride to someone who needed it, Henry let his actions, rather than his words, speak for him.
Henry Mastracco will be missed by his wife and son in ways that words cannot express. In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by his brother, a brother and sister-in-law, nieces and nephews.
Services have been coordinated with The Enea Family Funeral Home, 9 Center Street in St. Johnsville, NY. (518) 568-2300. Calling hours at the funeral home are Wednesday, November 29, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The St. Johnsville American Legion will gather at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. A Graveside full military Navy funeral service with Rev. David A. Johnson officiating will be held Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. in St. Johnsville Cemetery (behind the high school). Online notes of sympathy may be delivered to www.eneafamily.com on the Internet.
As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 1730 M Street NW,