In the last days of World War II, teenagers from the Hitler Youth organization were more and more prominent in combat because of heavy losses in the German army.
As the Nazis retreated into their homeland, in a town whose name he did not remember, Henry A. Buchianico spared the life of a teenage soldier. The act of compassion was typical of his whole life, relatives said.
On Thursday, May 9, Mr. Buchianico, 90, of Cape May, died at Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House.
Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Buchianico was a graduate of South Philadelphia High School and an accounting manager for a Cape May seafood producer.
Niece Rita McMullen said that it was only late in life that Mr. Buchianico told of having spared the soldier's life. And he was private enough that she learned about the incident only from other relatives.
While his unit was in a firefight, she said, Mr. Buchianico was on the lookout for snipers.
"There was a young kid in a window that had a rifle aimed at my uncle," McMullen said.
To her uncle, the boy looked no more than 12 or 13.
"He was pointing a rifle at my uncle and shaking from head to toe. The kid got so scared that he dropped his rifle," because Mr. Buchianico had locked his sights on the boy.
Her relatives said that Mr. Buchianico thought, "I'm not killing that kid. It's time to move on."
And, she said, "he allowed that kid to run away."
Then and throughout his life, she said, "he was the most compassionate and kind man."
Mr. Buchianico served under Gen. Omar Bradley in Sicily, completed his combat duty in Austria as a 22-year-old staff sergeant, and ended his military career in 1949.
He was an assistant analyst at the Frankford Arsenal until 1972, when he moved to Cape May.
For 26 years, Mr. Buchianico was an accounting manager for Lund's Fisheries Inc. in Cape May.
A member of the Peterson Little Post of the VFW in Cape May, he was a master bridge player, his niece said.
Mr. Buchianico also is survived by daughter Janet and several other nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife, Dorothy.
A visitation was set from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, May 15, at the Spilker Funeral Home, 815 Washington St., Cape May, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at Christ the King Church, 200 Windsor Ave., Haddonfield, with entombment in Calvary Cemetery in Cherry Hill.
Condolences may be offered at www.spilkerfuneralhome.com.