WINDSOR LOCKS -- Among the seven people who died aboard the historic B-17 bomber crash at Bradley International Airport Wednesday was a recent retiree of Connecticut law enforcement.
Captain Gary Mazzone, 66, spent 42 years serving the state of Connecticut in the criminal justice system.
Captain Mazzone spent 22 of those years at the Vernon Police Department.
"His laugh and smile and stay with me. The wisdom the man had I’ll never forget," said Captain John Kelley of the Vernon Police Department.
Captain Kelley considered Captain Mazzone a mentor and friend. Captain Kelley described him as a good man with high standards who enjoyed a good laugh from time to time.
Captain Kelley was hired by Captain Mazzone in 1996. Two years later Captain Mazzone would retire from the Vernon Police department after over two decades of service.
Mazzone joined the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice as an Inspector in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. In 2009 he’d begin serving in Litchfield State’s Attorney’s office until his retirement on January 1st, 2019.
"42 plus years in law-enforcement. The service and dedication to the town of Vernon and the state of Connecticut is just unheard of," said Captain Kelley.
Captain Kelley stayed in touch with Captain Mazzone during those years. They’d work a couple of cases with one another, catch each other in passing and chat over the phone from time to time.
"He was a wealth of knowledge. He knew the law inside and out. He knew many people in the state of Connecticut," said Captain Mazzone. "Whatever the issue I had he seemed to have some advice for that."
When Kelley heard Mazzone was involved in the crash he was in shock.
"I just can’t imagine that he’s not around. That he’s not with us anymore or you can’t pick up the phone to ask him questions anymore," said Captain Kelley.
Captain Mazzone had an impact on many lives during his 42 years of public service. Law enforcement we talked to said he was loved by all.
State Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella read the names of the 14 people diseased and injured from the B-17 bomber crash. He chocked up as he read Mazzone’s name.
The Special Olympics Connecticut held a special place in Mazzone’s heart. He participated annually in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. In 2008 he was elected the Law Enforcement Torch Run Hall of Fame.
As recently as a month ago he supported the Vernon Police Department in the Edge Challenge held in support of the Special Olympics Connecticut.
"The Special Olympics is a big thing for our police department and he always had that support for us," said Captain Kelley.
In a statement the Special Olympics Connecticut said quote:
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of retired Captain Gary Mazzone. Our hearts are with his family, friends and brothers and sisters in law enforcement. We will always be grateful for and remember the caring and meaningful ways he supported our organization and athletes."
The Vernon Police Department and the Division of Criminal Justice are among the many sending their deepest condolences to Mazzone’s family and friends and all others involved in the crash.
The high standards he lived by will set the bar for law enforcement for years to come.