2017/01/30 - Boise, AEB
(Idaho Statesman, Legacy.com-en argitara emandako jatorrizko hil-oharra)
(Boise, January 30, 1925 ~ Boise, August 19, 2017)
Albert "Al" Pagoaga, 91, of Boise, died peacefully in his home on Monday, January 30, 2017.
He was born on August 19, 1925, in Boise to Ignacio and Maria Yribar Pagoaga. He had three brothers and two sisters. They were very special to him. He was very proud of his Boise and Basque heritage. One of his fondest memories was when he was a teenager playing six-man football for St. Teresa's Academy.
Al attended St. Joseph's Catholic School and St. Teresa's Academy where he graduated from in 1943. He excelled at math and loved numbers. With World War II beginning, he and his closest and lifelong friend Will Overgaard volunteered to join the Marines. Semper Fi was a motto that Al would live by his entire life. Al was part of the 5th Marine Division that laid an amphibious assault on the Japanese Island of Iwo Jima - a 4.5 mile long, 2.5 mile wide Island of barren volcanic rock in the Pacific Ocean. On the 20th day of the battle, on part of the Island thought to be secure, Al was eating lunch with three friends in his foxhole when out of nowhere a single Japanese mortar hit. The blast killed his three friends and caused Al to lose part of his leg. He was awarded the Purple Heart. Only 32 men out of roughly 200 from Al's Easy Company (E-2-27) made it off the Island alive. All told, 6,800 Americans were killed and 19,200 were injured in The Battle of Iwo Jima.
Al was first flown to Guam and then to Mare Island Naval Hospital in California where he convalesced for 10 months. Afterwards, he moved backed to Boise where he put his love for numbers to work. Al joined First Security Bank of Idaho (now Wells Fargo) as an auditor. During his 40 year career with the bank, he was legendary for his thoroughness and integrity and for uncovering unscrupulous bank employees. He loved his audit travels to all the corners of Idaho and particularly enjoyed socializing, eating, drinking and playing pool with the locals. Ironically, while in a bar in Grangeville after work, Al meet John Rosenthal the American photographer who took the iconic World War II photograph Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. Although he was never married or had any children, he loved his nieces and nephews and they adored him. He was a wonderful uncle.
In 1985, Al retired and ventured into an active retirement of travel and socializing. In 1988, Al joined Wake Island Survivors (brother Richard, friends Murray Kidd, Joe Goicoehea, and George Rosandick) and their sons Rich Jr., Bruce, Dan and Tim for a reunion on Wake Island. It was an extremely fun and memorable journey for all. Al, along with his brother Richard and his wife Kay and sisters Marge and Vicky were able to visit the birth place of his Atatxi and Amuma (Grandpa & Grandma) at Arantzamendi in Motrico, Spain. He also attended many Boise Jaialdi Basque Festivals. Al and nephew Rich Jr. made trips together to the United Kingdom & Ireland and then to the Northeastern USA & Canada. A special highlight was their visit to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington D.C. He attended many 5th Marine Division reunions and also Norte Dame Football games with fellow Easy Company veteran Bill Madden right up until his passing. In 2015 Al's life came full circle, when he and 20 other Iwo Jima veterans were selected by the Greatest Generations Foundation for an all-expense paid trip to Guam and Iwo Jima.
Al was a tough and genuine man, whose generosity touched the lives of many.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother (our beloved Amuma), his brothers Frank, Henry and Richard, nephew Allan Campbell and brother-in-law Mel Peterson. Al is survived by sisters Marge Campbell and Vicky Peterson, sister-in-law Kay Pagoaga, nephews Rich Pagoaga Jr. (wife Jeanne), Doug Campbell (wife Robyn), Hank Campbell (wife Cheryl) and nieces Heather Campbell and Cathy Campbell (husband Marty Adell). Al is also survived by great nephews Justin Campbell (wife Amy), Tommy Mann (wife Michelle), Trevor Campbell, Cameron Chamberlain, Taylor Campbell, Nick Campbell (wife Alyssa), Jake Campbell, Alec Swann and Andrew Swann and great nieces Sabrina Campbell and Abby Pagoaga along with the extended Yribar families. The family would like to give a special thanks to the Boise VA and Brownfield's Prosthetics.
Funeral Services will be held on Monday, February 13, at 11:00 am at the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church with interment at the Morris Hill Cemetery. Following his service, all are welcome to join us for a Basque luncheon at the Basque Center.
In lieu of flowers, a donation may given to any veteran organization or your favorite charity. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.summersfuneral.com.
(Published from Feb. 2 to Feb. 8, 2017, in Idaho Statesman, Legacy.com)