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We Are Fresno: Sam Iacobellis

Fresno man Sam Lecobellis and how he played a significant role in American history.
Fresno man Sam Iecobellis and how he played a significant part in American history. One of the most influential and significant pieces of military aircraft in American history was designed by a man who grew up in Fresno. Sam Iacobellis spent more than four decades as a top engineer in the aerospace industry.

The B-1B bomber has been called revolutionary. Back in the early 1980s when it was unveiled, the technology was unlike any the world had ever seen. It was an engineering feat which many credit with helping end the Cold War.

"Because they couldn't stop the B-1B so if they knock us out knew we were gonna knock them out," said the man behind it, Sam Icacobellis.

He rembers the moment he gave President Ronald Reagan his first glimpse. "I was with him almost an hour by myself. I'm talking to Reagan, at the right moment they open the the hanger," recalled Icacobellis. He said the president's face said it all.

The work Icacobellis and his team at Rockwell International had done was nothing short of amazing. "We built 100 B-1B's under budget and ahead of schedule, that was unheard of. We had to do it fixed price," said Icacobellis. The B-1B was Icaobellis's crowning achievement, but through the years he worked on countless other projects making quite a name for himself in the aerospace industry.

He started at North American Aviation fresh out of college. He went to Fresno State on a football scholarship he earned while playing for the Edison Tigers. This son of Italian immigrants grew up on 40 acres of farmland at Divisidero and Thorne. He said it was his parents who showed him the value of hard work and the importance of being generous. "That was my father. Lot of luck to have somebody like that and my mother she was no slouch."

He said many knew his mother as Aunt Mary who took it upon herself to feed hungry filies. "My father and I would take platters of meatballs and spaghetti on Sundays," recalled Icacobellis, whose life in the valley is something he looks back on with great appreciation. said it shaped who he is and made it possible for him to accomplish so much during a more than 40 year career he truly loved.

"First all if you like what you're doing that's half the battle. Not one day did I go to work not looking forward to it. That's the truth... Everyday you're doing something you feel is important for mankind."
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