Town of Huntington officials and veterans organizations gathered to give thanks for the lifelong work of a late Huntington Station World War II veteran for his commitment to the community.
McKay Road in Huntington Station was officially dedicated as “SSGT USAF Michael J. Colamonico Way” at its intersection with Beau Lane behind Huntington High School in a Nov. 24 ceremony. The signpost stands on the corner near where Colamonico lived with his wife, Lorraine, through his death in December 2013.
“Mr. Colamonico dedicated his life to his family and veterans affair issues for active military and veterans,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said.
Colamonico was drafted to serve in the U.S. Air Force during World War II where he was assigned a position as a turret gunner on a B-17 bomber. On Dec. 31, 1943, Colamonico was on his first mission — a 13-hour bombing run — when his plane was shot down by a German fighter plane over southern France, according to his son, Michael Jr. He was held as a prisoner of war at the infamous Stalag 17 in Austria for 17 months before being liberated in 1945.
While a prisoner, he wrote poetry and drew illustrations in a bound book he titled, “A Wartime Log,” which his son said is now cherished as a family heirloom.
Upon returning to the U.S., Colamonico settled in Huntington and became a charter member of the town’s Veterans Advisory Board. Its current board members made the request that his home street be dedicated in his name, which was approved by a unanimous vote of the Town Board at its July 17 meeting.
“He was always there for the people in the community, no one really realized the impact until he had passed,” his grandson Francis Fanzilli said. “We get so caught up in thinking of ourselves and the world, we forget the impact we can have on the people around us.”
Colamonico volunteered at the Northport VA Medical Center helping and attending to injured veterans. He also was an active member of St. Patrick’s R.C. Church in Huntington, according to Father Michael Bissex.
“Michael loved the community he helped build, literally and figuratively,” Bissex said prior to blessing the sign.
Colamonico also served as a mentor to Huntington’s youth, in particular helping U.S. Army Capt. Michelle Mudge navigate her way through joining the armed services to become a pilot.
“He was a true mentor, he was one of the ones who believed in me from the time I was 15 years old,” she said. “ He pushed me through some dark times.”
Midge said she keeps a picture of Colamonico and his plane’s crew — that he once gave to her — on the mantle of her fireplace as a reminder. The captain believed her mentor would have been thrilled by the turnout at the dedication ceremony, and his wife agreed.
“I’m very honored and I know he would be, too,” she said. “I’m very happy to see him honored in this way.”
His wife spoke with family and friends with her arm stayed looped around the signpost long after the ceremony was over, as if holding onto a piece of her husband.