A WWII hero returns to the Bronx
Peter F. Prunty, a long time New Rochelle, NY resident died peacefully on September 5, 2015 at the age of 90 in the Bronx, NY. A place that he had not called home since 1949. Some might find it ironic that after all this time he ended up back in the Bronx, but we know he would find it gratifying that he spent the last days of his life in the same New York City borough where he was raised by his loving Irish immigrant parents, Peter and Catherine, along with his brother Patrick and sisters Mary, Helen and Theresa.
Peter is survived by his wife Mary Ann Sears Prunty of 17 years. He is also survived by his sisters Helen Prunty and Theresa Fay, and his children Maureen Begley, Peter (Patricia) Prunty , Michele Shoppell (Samuel), Sharon Pellegrino, Timothy Prunty and Eileen Prunty along with his grandchildren Shaun Mara and Brittany Begley, Thomas and Regina Pellegrino, Jessica and PJ (Kara) Prunty, Samantha, Michael and Sean Shoppell.
He is preceded in death by his wife Grace and sister Mary Brennan and brother Patrick Prunty
The hero of this story enlisted along with several other buddies from the neighborhood in February 1943. He was assigned to US Army Air Corp 345th Bomber Group that operated in the Pacific theater during the end of WWII. Peter was a radio operator and tail gunner along with his four other crew members in a Mitchell B25 Bomber.
On November 12 , 1944 the S.S. Morrison R. Waite was shuttling troops to air bases in the Pacific and was anchored off of Leyte in the Philippines. The boat came under attack from a Japanese kamikaze pilot. The flight crews and ground crews for the 345th Bomber groups were all below deck at this time. During this devastating attack 89 men lost their lives and 100 more were wounded. Peter survived this horrible attack, by a mere few feet as the plane penetrated the ship’s hull close by.
On August 10, 1945, Peter’s bomber group was on a mission and came across a Japanese gun boat. In the heat of the ensuing battle the right engine of his B-25 was hit but the plane was still able to fly for about an hour. It was losing fuel and running on a single engine before crash landing in the East China Sea. After floating in the open water for over six hours, a life boat was dropped to the men by a rescue plane.
Spending the night in the lifeboat, they noticed a submarine heading their way the next morning. Luckily it was the USS Plaice and not an enemy sub. At great risk, the submarine surfaced, potentially exposing themselves to the enemy and rescued all five crew members.
As a result of the crash, Peter shattered his knee which caused him to walk with a heavy limp for the rest of his life. After returning from the war, Peter spent many a summer night in Rockaway Beach, nicknamed the Irish Riviera, with his huge extended family, where he would later meet his future wife Grace Halloran. Incidentally, Grace’s father had a limp; her sister would later say that when she saw Peter hobble into the bar that night she knew he was the man for her sister. Peter and Grace spent a great life together where they would welcome 6 children into this world and later 9 grandchildren
Many years later at a reunion of the USS Plaice submarine crew, they shared with Peter that rescuing him and the rest of his crew was their most gratifying mission. From the Prunty family perspective, we can say without hesitation, that we are all extremely grateful 😉
Peter is a Purple Heart recipient from injuries received during his Army Air Corp service in WWII. During an interview with the *National Purple Heart Hall of Honor he was asked what he wants to tell people about his life… his answer was: “I feel very honored to have shared my life with my family and friends”
One other quote that we had found amusing was when the interviewer asked ‘what advice would you give young people?’
Peter’s reply: ” I’m not much for giving advice…. I am also not much for taking it” as it turns out, that apple did not fall far from the Prunty family tree 😉 … he then followed up with “Do your homework” and “go to Church”
Professionally Peter was a Life Member of IEEE, BS Electrical Engineering from Manhattan College, Masters Electrical Engineering from Brooklyn Polytechnic. At mid-career he returned to Manhattan College for several years as Professor of Electrical Engineering, teaching courses in Systems, Electronics, Digital Circuits and Digital Networks.
Some of Peter’s more notable projects included:
• Development of guidance systems for the ATLAS missile computer
• Airborne computer navigation systems to safely guide huge modified cargo planes into the eye of a hurricane to track it’s severity, direction and speed
• Microcomputer based systems for clinical laboratory blood testing and analysis.
• Implementation of a global packet switching network for a money center bank.
• In the early 90’s he became a TV Technology evangelists touring the country and presenting design concepts to organizations such as in the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) on “Delivery of TV over Existing Phone Lines.” as well as explaining how Audio/Video content could be stored, compressed, selected and rebroadcast. What we now know as On Demand TV.
o In an ironic twist, Peter in a diary from the late 1940s while looking at his uncle Paddy’s new TV commented “It was then that I learned what a colossal time waster TV viewing was. The poor signal quality and primitive set design added to the wasted time
by requiring endless adjustment of the fine tuning knob and the horizontal and vertical synchronization.”
Still the professor in later life, Peter and his wife Mary Ann spent many years providing religious education to young teenagers in their parish. ‘The Professor and Mary Ann’
Peter will be missed dearly yet we will find comfort in knowing that he is now reunited with Grace (literally and spiritually). He is now at rest after a full and extremely productive life providing for his family and contributing to society via his remarkable technological achievements.
A wake is scheduled from 4PM to 8PM on Wednesday September 9th at Lloyd Maxcy & Sons (16 Shea Place New Rochelle, NY. The funeral is scheduled for 10:30AM on Thursday September 10, 2015 at Blessed Sacrament Church New Rochelle, NY. (15 Shea Pl, New Rochelle, NY 10801)
All are welcome to attend and celebrate Peter’s life. If inclined, please send donations to:
Wounded Warrior Project http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate.aspx -or-
Donations can also be made to the Bronx VA Extended Care / Community Living center (CLC) located at 130 West Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, NY 10468
A Walk to End Alzheimer’s: http://act.alz.org/goto/savetheheroes
Condolences can be sent to http://www.lloydmaxcy.com/condolences/
The family would like to thank Peter’s caregivers Joselyn Collazo, Debbie Koelbl, Yamira Febles and Jill Mifsud, Kelly Thomas and the outstanding teams at the Bronx VA Hospital and CLC.