Huntington – Huntington Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Town of Huntington officials, and the Huntington Veterans Advisory Board were joined by New York State and Suffolk County officials, five World War II veteran honorees, families of the 365 Huntington World War II veterans and local veterans groups for an unveiling of the final two plaques added to the Town's World War II Memorial, bearing the inscribed names of Huntington World War II veterans on Veterans Plaza at Huntington Town Hall on Sunday, October 3.
Five guests of honor, Huntington World War II veteran honorees, attended the ceremony: Robert Corcoran, Nick Haridopolos, Peter O’Donnell, Seymour Perlmutter, and Jack Stahl. Families of the Huntington World War II veterans whose names were added to the memorial on the final two plaques joined the ceremony.
“We are proud to honor the memory, service and sacrifice of these 365 Huntington World War II veterans and forever memorialize their service to our country,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “It is a special honor to be here with the veterans who served and to see them receive this recognition today as we remember all of those who served alongside them.”
Veterans Advisory Board Chairman Bill Ober served as Master of Ceremonies. Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci welcomed dignitaries and Town officials delivered remarks. The United States Coast Guard, Eatons Neck Color Guard and Town of Huntington Veterans’ Posts’ Color Guards presented the colors. Louis DiLeo and the Coast Guard Auxiliary Band, based out of Fort Salonga, and pipe major Thomas Falco and the Northport Pipe and Drum Band performed patriotic music for the ceremony. World War II veteran and member of the Veterans Advisory Board, Mortimer Roberts, delivered the Pledge of Allegiance. Rabbi Yaakov Saacks of The Chai Center in Dix Hills delivered the invocation and Reverend Matthew Means of the Old First Presbyterian Church of Huntington delivered the benediction.
U.S. Army Major General Ret. Anthony Kropp, who led the original excavation for the Town's World War II Memorial with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reserves, addressed the audience and relayed his experience with the project. Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Major General Ret. Anthony R. Kropp, and Veterans Advisory Board member Albert “Butch” Jensen, Sergeant at Arms for the ceremony, carried a wreath from the ceremony area to the World War II Memorial on Veterans Plaza.
Officials joining Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, whose maternal grandfather’s name, Joseph J. DiSpirito, appears on the memorial, and Veterans Advisory Board Chairman Bill Ober at the ceremony from the Town of Huntington were Councilman Eugene Cook; Councilwoman Joan Cergol; Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Ed Smyth, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps; Town Clerk Andrew P. Raia, whose uncle James Norman Hansen, and cousins Carmine “Charles” Maltempo, Frank Meskowski, Joseph Meskowski and Julian Meskowski all appear on the memorial; Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman, and Superintendent of Highways Kevin S. Orelli as well as Veterans Advisory Board members: Liaison to the Supervisor Paul Kelly, Treasurer Robert Santo, Sergeant at Arms Albert “Butch” Jensen and members, including World War II veteran Mortimer Roberts, Hon. Jerry Asher, Donna Boyle, Walter Scally, Richard Serynek, and Robert Thomas.
Joining the ceremony from New York State were Senator Jim Gaughran, whose father Raymond Gaughran appears on the memorial and Assemblyman Keith Brown, whose father, the late New York State Supreme Court Justice Harry Richard Brown, a bronze star recipient and radio operator on a B-17 bomber, and father-in-law, Louis Buffone, both appear on the memorial.
County officials at the ceremony included Legislator Sue Berland, Chairperson of the Legislature's Veterans Committee, Legislator Tom Donnelly and Lieutenant Richard Roseo from the Suffolk County Police Department, Second Precinct.
Veterans organizations represented at the ceremony included Disabled American Veterans Chapter 19, Cmdr. Philip Rhoads; Elwood/Commack VFW #9263, Cmdr. John Carvajal; Nathan Hale VFW #1469, Cmdr. Gary Steinmueller; Greenlawn American Legion #1244, Cmdr. Donna Boyle; Huntington American Legion #360, Cmdr. Andrew Brady; Northport American Legion #694, Cmdr. William McKenna; Combat Infrantrymen’s Association, Cmdr. Bruce Brenner; Jewish War Veterans #488, Cmdr. Harry Arlin; Marine Corps League Huntington Det. #792, Cmdt. Rocky Paduano; Vietnam Veterans of America; and Women Veterans. The ceremony acknowledged Cmdr. Anthony Mastroianni of the Navy Seabee Veterans of America, who passed away one week prior to the ceremony after a long life dedicated to serving veterans.
Coordinating the event from the Town was Director of Human Services Carmen Kasper, Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco, Director of General Services Andre Sorrentino, Deputy Director Joe Rech, Director of Public Safety Joe Cirigliano and staff from their departments. Director of Environmental Waste Management John Clark, Planning Board Vice Chairperson Bob Bontempi, Zoning Board of Appeals member Sal Ferro, Beautification Advisory Council Chairperson Stephanie Bontempi, and Hispanic Advisory Task Force Chairperson Manny Esteban were also in attendance.
Huntington Fire Department, Halesite Fire Department, and Huntington Manor Fire Department donated ice for the ceremony. The Huntington YMCA and the Old First Presbyterian Church of Huntington provided parking for the event. King Kullen and Stop & Shop doated bottled water for the ceremony. Also attending were Chief Dave Kaufman and members of the Huntington Community First Aid Squad; Gil Picard, President of the Huntington Kiwanis Club and Dr. Dan Picard, Field of Honor committee chair and Kiwanis Club of Huntington, whose annual American Flag Field of Honor served as a patriotic backdrop for the ceremony; Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce Director Leanne Gelish and Chairwoman Vita Scaturro, and former Superintendent Dr. Dave Bennardo, recently retired from South Huntington School District.
The Town of Huntington World War II Memorial on Veterans Plaza honors the memory, service and sacrifice of Huntington’s World War II veterans. Under the guidance of former Veterans Advisory Board Chairman Victor Martinetti, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 7, 1995 to create the World War II Memorial. The Army Corps of Engineers Reserves out of Floyd Bennett, Brooklyn, agreed to do the excavation and prepare the footing for a forty-foot foundation for the memorial. Major General Anthony Kropp, a Huntington resident, and Commander of the 416 Engineer Command helped facilitate the agreement, saving the Town nearly $40,000 at the time. The World War II Memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1996. Prior to Sunday’s event, there were 6,000 names on the memorial, added in four phases on 15 plaques. The two final plaques add 365 names, bringing the total to 6,365.
After significant community outreach over the past few years, the two final plaques add 365 names to the memorial, including the name of Joseph B. Bennett, a Tuskegee Airman from Halesite. The unveiling ceremony for the final plaques was expected to take place in June 2020 but the Town was forced to postpone the event due to COVID-19 gathering limitations and concerns; the delay and a final proofreading of the plaque allowed for the late Joseph B. Bennett’s name to be added to the list on February 22, 2021, the final name of 365 new names to be added to the memorial on the last two plaques.
In order for to be eligible to have their name placed on the memorial, the World War II veteran must have been a resident of the Town of Huntington at any time in their life for a minimum of six (6) months and must have served at any time between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946, with proof of service (i.e. copy of discharge papers DD214; Honorable Discharge; copy of service medals; etc.).