NIAF News Releases



Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(WASHINGTON, D.C.—April 7, 2006) Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is best known for commanding the division that captured Saddam Hussein, will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Military Service at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) annual East Coast Gala on Tuesday, April 18 in New York City. The gala will be held at The New York Marriott Marquis Hotel with a reception and silent auction at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

At the awards dinner, NIAF will salute Hollywood’s best and prominent industry leaders for their outstanding leadership in business, government, sports, and entertainment. Joining LTG Odierno as honorees are: legendary racer Mario Andretti who will receive a NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports; Joseph M. Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises, who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Business; and Rocco B. Commisso, chairman and CEO of Mediacom Communications Corporation, who will receive the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award.

Actor Alan Alda will be inducted into the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Hall of Fame by Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Famed actress and model Isabella Rossellini will present a scholarship to an outstanding Italian American student. Actors Danny Aiello, Dennis Farina, and Tony Lo Bianco, along with sports great Yogi Berra, and Italian couture designer Renato Balestra, are among the Italian American celebrities attending the event.

LTG Odierno’s initial tours of duty took him to the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, Germany. Following completion of the Artillery Officer Advance Course, he was assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery at Fort Bragg, N.C. LTG Odierno served as the executive officer in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Most recently he was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas as the Commanding General of 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) from October 2001 to June 2004, during which time he deployed the division to Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 2003 to April 2004. LTG Odierno assumed his current assignment as assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on November 3, 2004. LTG Odierno has been selected to command both the Army's III Corps and the Corps' home installation of Fort Hood, Texas. He will take command of both the unit and the fort May 15 during a change of command ceremony at Fort Hood.

The gala is chaired by Frank Petrilli, president and CEO of Nexxar Group Inc. Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo will perform selections from his self-titled CD during the event.

The gala will benefit NIAF scholarship and education programs. Attire: Business. For ticket information, contact Bonni Cellini at 202/939-3114 or or visit

NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., and dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. To learn about our programs/events, visit

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