John William Tornabene Jr., 57, Vietnam combat veteran

April 25, 2003

John William Tornabene Jr., a combat veteran who was severely wounded in the Vietnam War, died of cancer Wednesday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. The Forest Hill resident was 57.

Mr. Tornabene was born in Baltimore and raised in Dundalk, where he graduated from Dundalk High School in 1964. He worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant until he was drafted into the Army in 1967.

While serving with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam, Mr. Tornabene was severely wounded when his armored personnel carrier underwent a mortar attack north of Saigon.

"He was trying to close the hatch when he was shot in the back of the head," said his wife of 33 years, the former Catherine Ann Kuczynski. "He was also hit in the jugular vein and lost part of an eye. He was lucky to come back alive."

Mr. Tornabene spent six months recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He was discharged in 1968 and declared 100 percent disabled. His decorations included the Purple Heart.

"He wasn't able to work and never complained. He never felt sorry for himself and was one incredible person," Mrs. Tornabene said.

Mr. Tornabene was a volunteer at Ruggles Golf Course at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where he helped managers run the course.

In addition to playing golf, he enjoyed bowling and collecting coins and baseball cards.

Mr. Tornabene was a communicant of St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 533 E. Jarrettsville Road, Forest Hill, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Tornabene is survived by two sons, Gregory P. Tornabene of Havre de Grace and Christopher J. Tornabene of Scottsdale, Ariz.; a daughter, Brenda L. Carter of Medford, N.J.; two brothers, Charles Tornabene of Perry Hall and Paul A. Tornabene of Bel Air; a sister, Joanne M. Seidle of Bel Air; and six grandchildren.

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