John W. Antonelli of Westwood, a highly decorated World War II veteran, died Friday [March 26, 1999]. He was 81.
Born in Lawrence, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in 1940. He was commissioned a Marine second lieutenant. He reported for duty with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, later designated the 1st Raider Battalion.
With the Raiders, he embarked for duty overseas in April 1942. In May, he was promoted to captain. He served as a company commander at Tulagi, Guadalcanal and Savo Island.
As a major, he became commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division. He led the battalion during the Iwo Jima campaign, where he earned the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism and the Purple Heart during battles from Feb. 19 to March 16, 1945.
He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 1945 and later took part in the occupation of Japan.
After the war, he served as executive officer of the Marine barracks in Boston until June 1947. He then began a three-year assignment as instructor and midshipman battalion officer at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
In July 1950, he was assigned to the staff of the commander, Cruisers Atlantic, operating in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. He was subsequently assigned to the senior course, Marine Corps Schools in Quantico, Va., graduated in May 1953.
Brig. Gen. Antonelli served many tours of duty. He assumed command of the 4th Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, from 1959-1961. He was at the National War College in Washington, D.C., and was then assigned to the J-3 Directorate, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, until April 1964.
Husband of the late Lillian (Ferrera), Gen. Antonelli is survived by two sons, John W. Jr. and James R., both of Norton; two daughters, Lois M. Howe of Westwood and Karen M. Cook of Kingston; three sisters, Christina Loffredo of Newport, R.I., and Constance Ippolito and Jane Wilson, both of Andover; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. tomorrow at Saint Margaret Mary’s Church in Westwood.
Burial will be in Westwood Cemetery.
Arrangements by Holden-Westwood Funeral Home, Westwood.