Tags Posts tagged with "Veterans"

Veterans

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The Kings Park-based Girl Scout Troop 408 gathers outside its community VFW hall to celebrate their achievement of helping install a brand new rail for veterans. Photo from Camille Cardoza

Kings Park Girl Scout Troop 408 is doing a lot more than just selling cookies. They are helping to refurbish homes for veterans in their community.

It all started last summer when the fifth graders from R.J.O. Intermediate School in Kings Park began selling jewelry to raise money to install a railing at their local Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall as part of their bronze award. Their initial efforts brought in $1,800 and helped pay for a brand new railing that has since been installed outside the building in November.

Now, the Girl Scouts are onto even bigger and better things to help out.

“They want to get out there and get their hands dirty on the job,” co-leader Camille “Mima” Cardoza said.

The girls have been working diligently selling jewelry and purple hearts to the community to help raise more money for the project. Every Sunday throughout the farmer’s market season, the girls pitched their ideas and sold as many bracelets and necklaces as they could to help raise the money for the railing. And looking forward, Cardoza said they plan on doing the same thing this season with the hope of raising even more money for the veterans.

Through the nonprofit Fairway Foundation, two mortgage-free homes will be awarded to Purple Heart recipients who have fought in Afghanistan or Iraq. This initiative will be orchestrated through the joint efforts of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), the Fairway Foundation and the community.

Rosemarie Kluepfel, who works for Fairway’s Independent Mortgage Corporation, and is helping run the foundation, said she was glad to see the community stepping up for its veterans to show their appreciation. The goal, Cardoza said, is to get at least two homes and gut them to cater to the needs of the veterans and their families. People in the community are donating most of the labor and supplies.

The Girl Scouts are also working on raising money to help pay for the essential materials, Cardoza said.

Not only will the Girl Scouts raise money, but they will also help gut and refurbish the homes whenever their schedule allows it. They said they look forward to seeing the veterans’ reactions when they see their new home.

“I’m excited to help fix up the houses for them,” 10-year-old Talia Matonti said. “I just want them to feel comfortable and be happy because they did really nice things for us.”

The young girls said they understand the sacrifices the veterans made, and they have a deep appreciation for their efforts, which is why they want to help. They feel it’s their turn to sacrifice their time and do whatever they can, the girls said.

“I want to help because they gave so much to us and hardly anyone gives back to them,” Mikayla Donohue, 10, said. “It feels good to give back to them.”

Caitlin McNulty, 10, echoed the other Girl Scouts’ comments, reflecting on the moment the railing was unveiled at the VFW hall. She called it one of the happiest days as she saw all the smiles on the veterans’ faces.

The girls plan to continue their jewelry sales and can be found at the Kings Park farmers market beginning in May. All the proceeds will go toward materials to help build the homes for the veterans.

Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan and received a Purple Heart can go to veteranshomegiveaway.org and apply if they are in need of a home. The application deadline is April 15.

East Northport man was also a firefighter and veteran

Elaine and Salvatore ‘Sam’ Macedonio Sr., on vacation in Italy last year. Photos from Mark Macedonio

By Julianne Cuba

East Northport firefighter, veteran and retired police officer Salvatore “Sam” Macedonio Sr., a former member of what was once the Town of Huntington Police Department, died from complications with lung cancer earlier this month. He was 87.

Macedonio, survived by his wife, Elaine, and his children, Gary Macedonio, Mark J. Macedonio, Lisa M. Macedonio Olofson and Salvatore Macedonio Jr., had served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

Following his military service, Macedonio joined the Town of Huntington Police Department as a patrolman in 1954. When the department merged into the Suffolk County Police Department in 1960, Macedonio was one of its first members.

Mark Macedonio said his father was loved very much and he will be sorely missed.

“He knew everybody in the Town of Huntington and everybody knew him,” he said. “He was a very well-known fellow. From his early days growing up in Huntington until the very end, he was a very approachable, kind, person. He was a great listener and peacemaker.”

Macedonio retired from the 2nd Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department as a senior patrolman in 1973. Since his retirement from the police force, Macedonio had co-founded Vor-Mac Auto Collision Inc. in Greenlawn, which he co-owned with his wife for more than 20 years. During that time, he was also a volunteer firefighter at the East Northport Fire Department for more than 40 years; and he was active for more than 20 of those years.

Sam Macedonio in 2011, at the national World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo from Mark Macedonio
Sam Macedonio in 2011, at the national World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo from Mark Macedonio

Following in her father’s footsteps, Macedonio Olofson — along with her husband, Brian, and their two daughters, Katherine and Nicole — joined the East Northport Fire Department as volunteers.

Macedonio Olofson, an EMT and lieutenant of the rescue squad, is also a school nurse at the Norwood Avenue Elementary School in Northport.

“He always taught us to give back to the community and that’s what I’m doing,” she said. “I volunteer all my free time to give back to the community.”

As the middle child in a family of 13 children, family always came first to Macedonio, his daughter said.

Born in Locust Valley on March 11, 1927, Macedonio was forced to quit high school to work on his parent’s farm — Cedar Hill Farm in East Northport — in the midst of the Great Depression. Macedonio was able to receive his high school diploma following his military service.

Henry Johnson, an 86-year-old Huntington Station resident, had worked on the Town of Huntington Police Department the same years Macedonio did.

“I just about never worked with him, but he had a good reputation, he was a hard worker and he was a good police officer,” Johnson said.

As a patrolman, Macedonio led a very distinguished career, his daughter said; he had been issued many commendations, including for bravery, meritorious service and outstanding performance of duty, as well as two heroic life-saving events in the early 1960s, Olofson recalls.

“He was widely known to many Huntington Township residents as a result of his active life, service to the community, humility and great love of all people,” she said.

Former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer sang Macedonio’s praises in an email statement, calling the East Northport man “a special kind of person” who was a “master of verbal judo” and could defuse volatile situations.

“He had no ego issues and brought a steadying and calm influence to his police duties,” Dormer said. “He loved the police department and when we would run into each other over the years, he would always bring up his days serving the people of Huntington Township and Suffolk County. He was so proud to be a cop.”

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A World War I cannon usually resides at the memorial park in Port Jefferson, above, but is now at the local American Legion post awaiting repairs. Photo by Elana Glowatz

A cannon that saw World War I battlefields in Europe and retired to a grassy home on Port Jefferson Harbor has gone on a brief vacation, after a local veterans group took it away for repairs.

American Legion Wilson Ritch Post 432 in Port Jefferson Station maintains the war memorial at the small Brookhaven Town-owned park between Route 25A and the harbor, across from Port Jefferson Village Hall.

According to Bob Elfers, commander of the post, the memorial’s cannon is at the Legion because “the wheels are totally shot” and it needs welding work and a fresh coat of paint.

The wheels have wooden spokes and rims, with a metal hub and reinforcements.

“The wood just totally disintegrated over the years,” Elfers said. Exposure also caused rusting on the body of the cannon.

Elfers said his group is having someone repair the wheels and weld the rusted parts, and the cannon will be sanded and painted.

The cannon, which is American Legion property, is a German WWI weapon, though Elfers said he does not know its exact history or when the post acquired it, and said no one at the post is old enough to be able to speak to that.

A World War I cannon usually resides at the memorial park in Port Jefferson but is now at the local American Legion post awaiting repairs, above. Photo by Rich Acritelli
A World War I cannon usually resides at the memorial park in Port Jefferson but is now at the local American Legion post awaiting repairs, above. Photo by Rich Acritelli

According to Rich Acritelli, a Legion member as well as a military history expert and social studies teacher, the cannon was built by industrial company Friedrich Krupp AG in Essen, Germany, which is in the northwestern part of that country, close to the Netherlands.

The company built armaments as well as naval ships during that period, particularly U-boats.

Acritelli said the cannon was not a heavy artillery weapon and it could have been used in two different ways: either mounted on wheels to assist the German infantry or mounted on a ship for the navy.

Because it was used during World War I, the cannon is roughly a century old.

It is likely that an American soldier took the cannon home with him, a common practice at the time, Acritelli said. It is also likely that soldier was serving on the Western Front, because that was where most of the U.S. military went during WWI.

Aside from the cannon, the memorial park in Port Jefferson contains flags and stones that pay tribute to those who served in wars throughout the nation’s history, as well as a central WWI stone monument.

That WWI monument has a story of its own: It was unveiled on Memorial Day in 1922 and was originally located on East Main Street, on the grass in front of the former First Baptist Church of Port Jefferson.

Elfers said he is hoping the cannon will return to the park in May, in time for Memorial Day.

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Hugh Campbell in his plane, The Swoose. Photo from the veteran

One served in the Naval Air Force in the Pacific, a second on the ground in Europe and another in its skies, but all three put their lives on the line during World War II to protect their country. Several decades later, the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson honored the three village residents for their service at their meeting Tuesday for Veterans Day, to show them that their sacrifices would not be forgotten.

From left, Hugh Campbell, Fred Gumbus and Walter Baldelli a few years ago on an Honor Flight, in which veterans are brought on a free trip to Washington, D.C. Photo from Fred Gumbus
From left, Hugh Campbell, Fred Gumbus and Walter Baldelli a few years ago on an Honor Flight, in which veterans are brought on a free trip to Washington, D.C. Photo from Fred Gumbus

The three men, Walter Baldelli, Hugh Campbell and Fred Gumbus, are all still active in their community, as they are three of the longest-serving members of the Port Jefferson Fire Department.

Baldelli, 95, was a tech sergeant in the Army’s 29th Infantry Division. He recalled in a phone interview “the one that damn near got me”: He was standing guard in a city in Belgium and the Germans sent bombs over “every night so we couldn’t sleep.” When one came close one night, he ran for cover on one side of a church, and the bomb went off on the other side.

“I lost my hat, my coat went over my head; I dropped my rifle.”

When Baldelli walked around the building, “there was a mess of dead people.” He said that was the closest he came to being really hurt.

Fred Gumbus, bottom row, second from right, was a tail gunner in the Naval Air Force. Photo from the veteran
Fred Gumbus, bottom row, second from right, was a tail gunner in the Naval Air Force. Photo from the veteran

The tech sergeant also spent time during the war in Iceland, England, France — in Paris, he walked underneath the Eiffel Tower — and Germany. His last stop before returning stateside was Frankfurt.

Baldelli said, “It was quite an experience,” and when he finally arrived home one day at 3 am, he woke up his parents and “we started drinking wine till daybreak.”

Campbell also served in Europe, as a tech sergeant in the Army’s Ninth Air Force from 1942 to 1945. The 89-year-old former flight engineer said he remembers most of it like it was yesterday, and there was one point when he was going into battle every day.

“After a while, you begin to wonder, how many times can I do this, you know?” he said. There were “people shooting at you every darn day with everything they got.”

Hugh Campbell served in the Army’s Ninth Air Force. Photo from the veteran
Hugh Campbell served in the Army’s Ninth Air Force. Photo from the veteran

Campbell also shared that one day after a raid, so many men had been lost that he was sent out on a second raid in the afternoon. The commanding officer had said, “I hate to send you out again but we don’t have anyone else,” Campbell said.

He described the feeling of not knowing if he was alive or dead.

“Everybody you had breakfast with before you went wasn’t there, they’re gone.”

One interesting experience that Campbell had came after the war, when a longtime friend asked if he remembered any of his 44 missions against the Germans. Campbell told the story of a small city where a bridge went diagonally across the Rhine — which was unusual — and “they wanted to bomb and take the bridge out to cripple the German supply system.” He was about 19 years old at the time.

The friend replied that it was his village, that he had been there on the ground with his brother when it happened and saw the whole thing. The man recalled seeing big yellow triangles on the rudders of the bomber representing the insignia of Campbell’s group.

Campbell said his friend would not have known about the triangles unless he had, indeed, been there: “Here is a guy that was an enemy and now he and I are friends.”

Fred Gumbus was a tail gunner in the Naval Air Force. Photo from the veteran
Fred Gumbus was a tail gunner in the Naval Air Force. Photo from the veteran

Gumbus was an aviation ordnanceman in the Naval Air Force from 1943 to 1946, with Patrol Bomber Squadron VPB-118. The 89-year-old former tail gunner, who goes by “Pop” in the PJFD because he is the most senior Gumbus in the department, served on the Pacific front.

While returning from one mission, Gumbus said, he called the pilot from the tail to warn that there were five Japanese fighters following theirs and another American plane. Though Gumbus’ plane made it out of the skirmish, the Japanese had taken out one of their engines and another one was in flames. He said they put out the fire but were losing altitude, and had to get rid of any weight they could. He tossed out toolboxes, parachutes and the insides of the guns.

The pilot released a bomb bay tank, but it tipped and got caught, and was hanging partly out of the bottom of the plane. Gumbus said he had to get rid of it, because if the plane were to land like that, the gas tank would have scraped the ground and exploded.

“Here I am trying to kick this thing” out of the plane, he said, and he was hanging over the plane’s open bottom above the Sea of Japan without a rope or harness.

Eventually the tank was loosened and fell out — and the plane, though sputtering, landed safely on Okinawa.

When he found out the Rotary was planning to honor him, Gumbus said, he thought, “Well that’s wonderful … because lots of times you’re forgotten.”

A modest Campbell said about being honored for his service, “I guess I appreciate it and it never occurred to me that anyone would ever say anything about it.”