Vincent DeLiso of Pasco, who spent eight months as a German prisoner in World War II and survived a death march across occupied Europe, died early Monday at the age of 92.

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Vincent DeLiso of Pasco, who spent eight months as a German prisoner in World War II and survived a death march across occupied Europe, died early Monday at the age of 92.

DeLiso had been suffering from congestive heart failure for about a year and checked last week into the Hospice House in Kennewick, said longtime friend Tim Russell.

His family was able to come from around the country to be at his side when he died, Russell said.

DeLiso was the tail gunner on a B-17 bomber that was shot down Nov. 26, 1944. Three crewmen died immediately when the plane was hit, and the pilot gave orders for the others to jump out.

DeLiso and ball turret gunner Ray Leal jumped, but not before telling the captain that they’d been through worse and probably could wing it to safety, according to Herald archives.

DeLiso was separated from Leal during their descent. He ended up in a tree and was taken captive by the Gestapo, who beat him with their rifle butts and forced him to walk for miles.

DeLiso and Leal were reunited after being herded by German soldiers into a boxcar for Allied prisoners. They were shuffled together from one prisoner-of-war camp to another over the next several months.

DeLiso ended up imprisoned for eight months, losing 65 pounds. He was marched for 87 days across the Baltic coast of Germany through a record-cold winter by SS officers trying to flee advancing Russian forces.

They eventually were rescued by Canadians, and DeLiso received two Purple Hearts. DeLiso and Leal remained friends until Leal died in 2011.

DeLiso, a Philadelphia native, eventually earned a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University. He came to the Tri-Cities as part of his work for the American defense and space industries.

He became project manager for the Fast Flux Test Facility Reactor at Hanford in 1967. A few years later, he took a teaching position in Minnesota after his first wife died, leaving him to raise four children.

He eventually remarried, returned to the Tri-Cities and opened an Italian deli and an engineering consulting firm.

Tom Russell, now quality-service manager at Seneca Foods, said DeLiso was like a father to him when he took a job when he was 16 in the early 1990s at the deli at 19th Avenue and Court Street. DeLiso showed him how to cook, how to run a business and even used baking paper to show him algebra.

“It was his dream to have his own restaurant,” Russell said.

DeLiso returned to Europe in 1993 for a 50-year reunion of the 427th Squadron of the 303rd Bomb Group. The visit led to a reunion with members of the Green family, whom DeLiso had befriended in Wigan, England, during the war. The next year, four of the five sisters came to the United States, where DeLiso and his wife, Claudine, led them on a five-week tour of the western United States and Canada.

In 2011, DeLiso got to fly in a B-17 for the first time since World War II when the Wings of Freedom Tour, operated by the nonprofit Collings Foundation, came to Pasco.

He was always happy to talk to school or civic groups about his experiences. In 2013, he was contacted by Jiri Sasek, the curator of an exhibit at a Prague museum, who was passionate about air battles that happened over his country and elsewhere in Europe.

DeLiso sent Sasek a package with information about his 10-man crew, including renderings of the crash and photos of himself and other crewmen.

DeLiso said at the time that not many World War II veterans survived, especially those who were captured.

“They’re all in their 90s,” he said of his fellow POWs. “There’s less than 5,000 of us left. I happen to be one of the youngest.”