Albert R. Panebianco, 87, a retired insurance agent and decorated Army sergeant formerly of Springfield, Delaware County, died of heart failure Friday at Western Wake Medical Center in Cary, N.C. He had lived in Cary for eight years.
When moviegoers complained that Saving Private Ryan was "too bloody," Mr. Panebianco argued it was an accurate depiction of the war in Europe, his daughter Denise Butler said.
He spoke from experience, she said. As an infantryman in Europe for two years, "he was everywhere. The miles he covered were exhausting."
Mr. Panebianco graduated from South Philadelphia High School. He was a milkman and worked at the Baldwin Locomotive Works before his induction into the Army in 1943. He shipped out to North Africa in January 1944 and fought in the Rome-Arno campaign. That June, he participated in the Normandy invasion.
Seven months later, during the Battle of the Bulge, enemy shrapnel hit him in the mouth. He lost several teeth, his daughter said, but quickly returned to action. In April 1945, he was among the troops who liberated the Dachau concentration camp. He was discharged in October 1945 with a Purple Heart.
Mr. Panebianco was an agent for 40 years for Prudential Insurance Co. in Newtown Square. When he retired in 1986, he became computer literate, his daughter said, and in the 1990s he and grandson his Michael MacDade developed "Albert R. Panebianco's World War II Website" (www.45thinfantrydivision.com). He did a great deal of historical research for the site, Butler said.
The site includes the history of 11 Army divisions, a Purple Heart database, and personal accounts. Mr. Panebianco invited veterans to contribute. "As we age, the chance to tell our stories becomes less and less," he wrote. "I hope that you will take this opportunity to make your story known and to make this time in history an important part of our future."
He often attended World War II reunions, and in September, though in a wheelchair, he traveled with family from North Carolina to a reunion in Gettysburg, Pa., his daughter said.
Mr. Panebianco is also survived by his wife of 63 years, Katherine D'Agostino Panebianco; a son, Albert; another daughter, Michele MacDade; a sister; and eight grandchildren.
Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. today and from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Kovacs Funeral Home, 530 W. Woodland Ave., Springfield. A Funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 136 Saxer Ave., Springfield. Burial will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.