September 14, 1940 – March 15, 2023
Albert George Pianalto “Al”, the twelfth of seventeen children, and sixth son of George P. and Clara C. Barenberg Pianalto, was born September 14, 1940, on the family farm near Attwood, Kansas. He attended Hillside Elementary School near the family home. He graduated from Maur Hill High School in Atchison, Kansas in 1958, and from St. Benedicts College in Atchison, in 1962, with a BA degree in History.
Following graduation from college, he entered the U.S. Air Force and was commissioned through Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas. From there he attended Navigator Training at James Connelly AFB, Texas, Advanced Navigator Bombardier School at Mather AFB, then B52 Combat Crew Training at Castle AFB, both in California.
His first operational assignment was as a B52 Navigator, with the 97th Bombardment Wing, Blythville AFB, Arkansas, where he served from March 1965 until August 1967, when he was again assigned as a Navigator with the 319th Bombardment Wing at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, where he served until 1970.
While assigned to the 46th Bombardment Squadron, at Grand Forks, he spent five months on temporary duty with the 3rd Air Division in Guam, Okinawa, Japan, and Utapao, Thailand, flying 57 combat missions over Southeast Asia from June to October 1969.
After completing F-4 crew training with the 4453 Combat Crew Training Wing at Davis-Mantham AFB, Arizona, he was assigned to the 52nd Tactical Fighter Wing in Spangladahelm, Germany, for three years as an F-4 Weapons Officers and Chief of the Radar Systems Division.
In July 1974, he returned to the United States to attend the Air Force Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama and also earned a master’s degree in Political Science, from Auburn University. Following his graduation, in 1975, he was assigned as a Staff Officer with the 17th Air Division at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand where he supervised the anti-drug program during the drawdown and closure of U.S. military operations in Thailand. He served there until February 1976 when he transferred to 12th Air Force Headquarters Bergstrom AFB, Texas, as a staff officer. It was here that he met and married his wife, Deanna M Andrade. They have two children, Robert, and Jaqueline Andrade.
In June 1980, Al was assigned to the 833rd Air Division as the Assistant Deputy Commander for Resource Management. In November he assumed command of the 833rd Transportation Squadron at Holloman which was named the best transportation squadron in Tactical Air Command in 1982 and 1983 and the Air Force in 1983 when the Squadron won the coveted National Defense Transportation Award for its support of the landing of the Spacecraft Colombia at the White Sands emergency landing strip.
He was also named as the 1983 Air Force Transportation Officer of the Year. In August he was promoted to the position of Deputy Commander for Resource, which he held until June 1985. He was promoted to Colonel on January 31st, 1985.
He transferred to Headquarters Tactical Air Command in June 1985 where he served as the Deputy Director and Director of Logistics Plans for the Command until his retirement on January 31st 1990. While at Langley, he served as the Air Force Program Manager for the Southwest Asia Preposition Program which developed the support facilities used by Air Force personnel during the Gulf Wars and is still in use today.
Al was a master navigator with more than 3,300 flying hours in T-29s, B-52s and F-4s. His military decorations include Legion of Merit, The Meritorious Service Medal, The Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, The Air Force Commendation Medal, The Combat Readiness Medal, The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, The Air Force Recognition Ribbon and the Vietnam Service medal with two stars.
Following his retirement Al and Deanna moved to Chester, Virginia, where Al worked at the Walmart Distribution Center in Dinwiddie, Virginia, and RBI Corporation in Ashland, Virginia, managing warehouse operations. In 1996, he took a position with Air Work Vinnell and DynCorp in Oman managing the Air Force Prepositioning sites in Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar until 2004.
After completing his tour in Oman, Al became active in veteran issues, serving as the Vice President of the Lee Wade Chapter of the Air Force Association, legislative representative of the Southside Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America to the Virginia Council of Chapters of the Military Officers Association of America where he advocated legislative initiatives before the Virginia General Assembly. He also served as the Legislative Aid for Veteran Affairs for Delegate Kirk Cox of the House of Delegates. In 2012, the Speaker of The House of Delegates requested that he serve on the board of trustees for the Veterans Service Foundation where he served for 8 years serving Virginia’s veterans.
Al is survived by his wife of 44 years, Deanna; a son, Robert Andrade; daughter, Jaqueline Andrade; sisters, Marjorie Horinek and husband, AJ, Patricia Simoni, Betty Golwas, Shirley Price, Linda Lattanzi and husband, Andy; and brother, Fred Pianalto and wife, Janice; as well as many nieces, nephews, and his two cats, George and Lucky; in-laws, Janice Morello and Randall Harris.
Al Pianalto’s life was defined by integrity, faith and perseverance. He was admired and respected by all who knew him and will be sorely missed.