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Info Sheet - Mark James Ponzillo
Died 14 July 2019 - comments

markObituary for Mark Ponzillo LTC (Ret)

A Celebration of Life for Mark Ponzillo, LTC (Ret), 77, of Thomasville, GA was held at 6:30PM on Thursday July 18, 2019 at Victory Fellowship Church with Pastor Jamie Nunnally officiating.

Mr. Ponzillo passed away July 14, 2019 at Archbold Memorial Hospital.

Born January 15, 1942 in Troy, New York, he was the son of the late Mark and Jennie Forte Ponzillo.

He was married to his wife of 51 years, Jo Hayes Ponzillo, who survives.

He retired from the United States Army where he started as a private and retired as a Lt. Colonel. He was a member of Special Forces, LRRPs, MSOG, and served 3 combat tours in Vietnam.

He earned the Master Parachutist Badge, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit with cluster, as well as other awards.

Mr. Ponzillo was an advocate for veterans and was very active in veteran affairs.

He loved the sport of swimming and became one of the most senior swimming officials in USA Swimming. He served as the swimming competition manager for the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, GA.

He was a partner of Victory Fellowship Church.

In addition to his loving wife Jo, he is also survived by his daughters, Laura Ponzillo and Kerri Knight (Jay), both of Thomasville; granddaughters, Caroline Knight, Samantha Knight and Piper Knight.

He was preceded in death by his brother, John Ponzillo.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Special Operations Foundation, PO Box 70822, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina 38207 or Gary Sinise Foundation, PO Box 368 · Woodland Hills, CA · 91365 or the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

His interment was held at Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Ga. with military honors on Wednesday July 31, 2019.

Mark Ponzillo Military Interment:

The Huey Flyover arranged for Mark's Internment was coordinated by Donnie Brown. His comments of the event are quite moving:

I would like to share a recent event of an Honor Flight for LTC Mark Ponzillo at the Georgia National cemetery in Canton Ga.LTC Ponzillo was a member of Special Forces,LRRPsMSOG and served 3 combat tours in Vietnam Nam.He received Silver Star,Purple Heart, Legion of Merit with cluster and many other medals,he also had a Master Parachutist badge. Quite a Soldier. He was a native of New York but lived his final days in Thomasville Ga. Our flight crew for this mission was Jack McCormick Pilot,Dave Rayburn co-pilot and Warren Taylor crew chief. I was the ground control guy .This particular day our ground radio was broken so we had to use cell phone text as our communication .I arrived to the site ahead of time and did a quick recon and spoke with Jack about our plans. We did a text test for timing and it was instantaneous so we were ready to go. As the everyone was preparing for the interment I positioned my self for a clear view of the aircraft and nothing to do but wait I watched as the Army color guard and bugler practiced for the up coming event. Patriot Guard Riders were also there and I watched as they too prepared for LTC Ponzillo, then there was a film crew as well. Jack had told me he would fly in North to South turn right and come back over West to East with a blade tilt and salute on the way out. I confirmed this with the film guys. My next thing to do was to coordinate the actual fly in time. Jack had sent me a text that he was orbiting two and a half minutes out. David Dunlap was the service Director and a personal friend of the Ponzillo family. He would be the final speaker and would give the surprise announcement that a Huey would be flying over. At that time the crowd would come out from the pavilion and face north to see the approaching Helicopter. I sent the Text calling the flight crew in and it failed. I sent it again and by now the folks are coming out to see the Huey. I'm thinking seconds seem like minutes. Come on guys please say you got my text. Then Dave sends me a confirmation their two miles out. I look down at the crowd looking North. You could have heard a pin drop and then I hear THAT SOUND ,you know that faint whop of the blades as it gets closer it gets louder ,their coming to take us out sound.I could see the faces of the family and friends and knew they understood .It was as if we were taking the LTC out. Couldn't help it tears ran down my face. Jack, Dave and Warrens flight in was perfect I felt honored to be there and a strong since of pride for the flight crew. These honor flights touch the families and friends and are a privilege for all of us. I've had the good fortune to be part of the flight crew in the air and to give a perspective as ground support is a heart felt moment I'll always remember . No the timing wasn't as I planned it but that minute and half pause and anticipation was magical. I wish LTC Ponzillo's family and friends the very best and thank him for his service to our country. Sincerely Donny Brown


Marshall Huckaby: I still can't wrap my mind around his passing. Was with him on Friday night talking about old days, and two days later he is gone.

Tom Fleming: This is truly a great loss. Thankfully there are still many of us who knew him and benefited by his expertise and leadership.

While all of us who were touched by his presence in D/3/4 Cav are remembering his accomplishments, take the time to share them with your fellow troopers via so that his legacy will live on not just in our individual minds, but be available for future generations to study and reflect on.

Rest in peace brave warrior.

Bruce Powell: I came to the Centaurs a few months after Mark left, but did my fair share of inserting/covering/extracting the great LRRP forces that he singlehandedly created. Sharon and I got to know Mark real well at the Cav Reunions and we both greatly appreciated his help in getting many of his LRRPs to do videos and tell stories for our legacy website. Whenever I gave him a call for help with the website, he was always available. We will miss him greatly.

John Spencer: I roomed with Mark in OCS and upon graduation went to his home in Mechanicsville NY. Saw Mark in Vietnam a couple of times and stayed in touch with after we retired. He was a hero on my book.