Decorated veteran helped to build landmarks
As a flight engineer in the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron, Patrick Lavura dropped rescue boats from his B-17 to downed pilots during World War II. But his most dramatic duty involved the survivors of the sunken USS Indianapolis, a ship immortalized in “Jaws.”
A Japanese submarine had torpedoed the ship at the tail end of the war, and sharks carried off and ate many of the survivors one by one, a scene recalled by Quint, the fictitious, shark-hating sea captain in the movie. Nearly 600 men died in the sea over five days from their wounds, thirst, starvation and sharks.
“My Dad was on a rescue squadron plane, and he was shooting the sharks,” said daughter Patricia Hazel of Matthews, N.C. “My Dad was one of the better shooters because he was a hunter, and the other guys were rescuing the guys that were in the water.
Patrick C. Lavura of Scott died Friday, December 21, 2012, in Washington Commons Assisted Living in Bridgeville. He was 93.
He was born on a farm in Girard, Ohio, on Dec. 28, 1918, to Diego and Marian Lavura, immigrants from Calabria, Italy, He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, stationed at bases in Saipan, Guam and Iwo Jima. He flew 13 missions over Tokyo Bay. Among his many awards were the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars.
After the war, Mr. Lavura became a foreman with Ironworkers Union Local 3. He helped lay the steel for reinforcing concrete for several Pittsburgh landmarks, including the U.S. Steel Building, Gateway Tower No. 6 and the WQED Building in Oakland.
“He fell once, grabbed onto some kind of cable wire until they rescued him,” said son Joe Lavura of Upper St. Clair.
Mr. Lavura and his brother Victor “Hector” owned and operated Lavura Texaco on Bower Hill Road in Scott for many years.
He coached the seventh- and eighth-grade football team of Our Lady of Grace School and teams in the Bower Hill Baseball Association.
“He had a way about him. People loved him. Kids flocked to him,” his son said.
The family ate dinner together at 5 o'clock unless the boys had to play sports. He talked his wife into letting his football team use the basement of their home as a locker room when they practiced at the neighboring baseball field.
Mr. Lavura was strict with his children.
“We had to be in by a certain time, and it was always earlier than our friends,” recalled his daughter. “There were no excuses for being late. None whatsoever.”
He was preceded in death by his wife, Emily; six brothers; one sister; and a grandson.
Survivors in addition to his son and daughter include a son, Angelo, of Keyser, W.Va.; a daughter, Tina Giuntini of Scott; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in Beinhauer-Fryer Funeral & Cremation Service, 430 Washington Ave., Bridgeville. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in Our Lady of Grace Church in Scott. Entombment will follow in Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
The family asks that memorials be in the form of donations to Our Lady of Grace Angel Fund, 310 Kane Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA, 15243.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Toddler found wandering alone in Bloomfield, grandmother arrested
- Nonstop flights offered to Bahamas from Pittsburgh
- Pitt instructor witnesses history in China’s ‘Wasteland’
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is planning a summer to remember
- Reports: Actor Ford seriously injured in small-plane crash in L.A.
- Mt. Lebanon deer-culling corrals sprayed with urine, repellent
- Pitt women make early exit from ACC tourney
- Stocks snap losing streak as ECB reveals stimulus start date
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- Spring training breakdown: Yankees 2, Pirates 1