MICHAEL T. BIANCHINO
March 29, 1939 - November 6, 2014
Mike Bianchino lost his valiant struggle with ALS on Thursday, November 6, 2014. As was his wish, he died at home surrounded by loved ones and with the help of Casa de la Paz Hospice.
Hailing from Albany, New York, Mike was the epitome of a Marine. He enlisted on his 17th birthday and lived that life with gusto and pride for “29 years, 11 months, 15 days,” reaching the rank of Master Sergeant. He cherished his designation as “Top.”
To his disappointment he was too young for Korea, but served three tours in Viet Nam as a “Grunt.” He was particularly proud of his service with the (real) Walking Dead, the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in 1965-66 as a Scout/Sniper. He maintained membership in the Network of those fellow warriors, made lasting friendships and connected with them at many reunions and beyond.
During the ten proud years in the Infantry, he was trained in the Thai and Spanish languages at Monterey Defense Language Institute. In 1971 it suited the Marine Corps to reassign him to the Human Intelligence field as an Interrogator/Translator. That association also produced a group of dear and enduring friends, many of whom became extended family.
After tours of duty at Camp Pendleton, California, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and training Marine Corps Reserves in Chicago, Illinois, he and his family “landed” at Fort Huachuca in 1984. He served as NCOIC of the Tactical Interrogation Branch and also as an instructor, being selected Instructor of the Year in 1985. He enjoyed his relationship with his Army brethren, always good naturedly ribbing about the Marine Corps' in-comparability.
His citations include the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal with Valor Device, campaign medals from the Viet Nam War and the Combat Action Ribbon (of which he was most proud). But he was also proud of his Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals - and had almost as many as he should have had.
Following his military retirement, Mike spent ten years as a civil servant at R. W. Bliss Army Health Center. He enjoyed interacting with people and made many lasting relationships in the process.
While exceedingly proud of his Marine Corps service, that pride was surpassed by what he felt for his family...love beyond measure. He is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Mary Ellen, their children Michael (Karen), Margaret/”Maggie” (Robert), and Thomas (Sondra). He was intensely proud of all his children, his granddaughters Kaylani and A1C Allison Scott, USAF (David) and their beautiful daughter Emma Riley Scott, who never failed to make him smile. Predeceased by his parents, Mike is also survived by his brother Richard Bianchino, Lt Col, USMC Retired, and sister-in-law Brenda, as well as Mary Ellen's family, and numerous special cousins, nieces and nephews.
Mike was a faithful communicant at St. Andrew the Apostle Church since 1984 and was a member of many military affiliated organizations, including VFW, American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, AmVets, Disabled American Veterans, and 1/9 Network. He was a Charter Member of both the Marine Corps Interrogator/Translator Team Association and Thunder Mountain Detachment of the Marine Corps League, having served as Junior Vice Commandant and Senior Vice Commandant of the latter. He was also a long-standing and active member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Sierra Vista Lodge, which also provided numerous special friendships and support, especially during the ALS journey.
Well known around the Sierra Vista area as “Mikey,” he sang in many venues, providing enjoyable evenings with selections from Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, and other “oldies.” He was proud to have sung the National Anthem at various public gatherings.
Not all battlefield fatalities happen during battle. Mike wanted to share the terrible statistic that Veterans are more than twice as likely to develop ALS than the general population. He was humbled to be the honoree of many Ice Bucket Challenges in support of the ALS Association and its mission. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 from 4:00 till 7:00 PM at Hatfield Funeral Home. Mass of Christian Burial will be on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church with Father Greg Adolf officiating. Interment will follow with military honors at Southern Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery.
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