Tags Posts tagged with "Veterans"


At the site of the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Memorial in Rocky Point Aug. 5, veterans, public officials and community members joined U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), the Republican nominee in this year’s New York gubernatorial contest, to champion legislation that would expand peer-to-peer veteran support services nationwide.

The PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Memorial in Rocky Point, the site of this press event.

The Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project, initiated in 2012 by Zeldin when he was a state senator, is a peer-to-peer program that assists veterans through support groups and other resources. The program is designed to promote mental health and alleviate the challenges of those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

“As I travel around Suffolk County for years, I have had countless veterans tell me that because of the Dwyer program, they are alive, they have a job and they have a family,” Zeldin said. “They credit the support that they have gotten from the Dwyer program for their ability to be able to cope with the mental wounds of war.”

Zeldin credited the success of the Dwyer project to its design, which was tailored to meet the needs of veterans. The peer-to-peer setting, moderated by veterans trained to lead discussions around personal and highly sensitive matters, offers a unique venue for vets to open up to those who are best equipped to understand them.

Zeldin is sponsoring legislation — H.R.1476 PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Program Act — that would make these services accessible for veterans nationwide.

“The Dwyer program needs to be expanded nationally,” the congressman said. “To the [other 534] members of Congress … please do everything you can to co-sponsor this bill.” He added, “Get educated on what peer support should be all about and let’s get this over the finish line and passed into law.”

Zeldin was joined by a host of veterans leaders and public officials representing various levels of government. His efforts to expand the Dwyer program were backed by Joe Cognitore, commander of the VFW Post 6249, based in Rocky Point. Cognitore discussed the lasting effects of combat and the difficulties that veterans encounter when they return from active duty.

Joe Cognitore, commander of VFW Post 6249, discusses the challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder

“Post-traumatic stress affects all of us,” the post commander said. “The statue you see behind us was put up this past year and it represents the post-traumatic stress that we all go through — not just veterans but all walks of life.”

State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) expressed support for the bill as well. She emphasized the uniqueness of the peer support offerings through the Dwyer program.

“Nobody knows the devil and the demons more than veterans,” she said. “Today, New York State has $7.7 million in its budget this year for this program, but it’s not enough,” adding, “I am here at Congressman Zeldin’s plea … to acknowledge our veterans and realize what they need in order to be successful and reintegrate into life after coming home.”

State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead), at podium, on why the Dwyer program should be expanded nationally

State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) spoke of the success of the Dwyer program locally and the need to bring the program onto the national stage.

“It makes so much sense now to see the success of the program,” he said. “It’s something that should have existed for many, many years, but this is the sort of effort that you need to get those ideas … to ultimately come to fruition and then to show the success that we have seen.”

Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden), the majority leader in the Legislature, shared how the Dwyer program supports those in the community. Caracappa, who also chairs the county veterans committee, stressed that veterans issues are human issues that need to be met with human solutions.

“These are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters … these are our family members,” Caracappa said. “I’m proud to say that this project is a product of Suffolk County.” Due to its success locally, Caracappa advocated “bringing this forward on a national level.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) offered her support for the proposed legislation 

Also on hand was Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), who was instrumental in helping the town secure the land where the Dwyer memorial now resides. [See TBR News Media story, “Students, elected officials reflect on new Dwyer statue” (Jan. 21, 2021)].

Bonner spoke of the hidden wounds of war. “Not all war injuries are visible,” she said. “So it’s incumbent upon us to do everything that we can do as citizens and residents to make sure that this legislation is passed federally.”

Following the press conference, Zeldin was asked what he would do to relieve the plight of veteran homelessness if elected as governor. He highlighted the need to improve outreach initiatives and bring down any barriers that may impede those efforts.

“Outreach to the homeless, outreach to people who are struggling with mental health issues, is not just about what you say to them, but also about being able to listen to people in need and hear those stories,” the Republican gubernatorial nominee said. “If there’s any type of red tape that’s preventing those conversations, then that red tape needs to get torn down.”

Public officials gathered before a room of vets at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University for a Memorial Day service Friday, May 27.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) gave the keynote address for the event. He continued the theme raised during his State of the County address a week earlier, invoking the example of the Greatest Generation as a model for Americans today.

“I can’t help but think that it’s just at the moment when we see our World War II veterans unfortunately slowly, but inevitably, fade into history, that 80 years later we now see war raging in Europe,” he said. “It’s so important that we never forget what they did.”

For Bellone, American veterans should be honored not only for their service abroad but for the work they perform for communities after they return from the battlefield. 

“It’s what veterans always do — they come home after fighting for our country and they build and they strengthen our community,” the county executive said, adding, “To all our veterans who have served, you all have picked up the baton of service. From the Revolutionary War right up to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American veterans have served and have sacrificed.”

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) was also in attendance. Saying that he was inspired by Bellone’s address, the councilmember commented on the need for policymakers to temper their power to wage war and monitor their decisions that threaten peace. 

Without memory of the great global conflicts of the 20th century, leaders today may be less cautious in their use of force.

“Maybe people now who are making decisions, who didn’t live through it, maybe they don’t have the same reluctance to engage in war and the same urgency to avoid it,” Kornreich said. “Especially right now, with all of the conflicts that are going on, that’s a very good lesson. I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of those who have died in war than to try to fight for peace.”

— Photos courtesy of Long Island State Veterans Home

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is leading the charge to prevent changes at Northport VA that could slash services. Photo from Schumer’s office

After the release of a recent report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recommending the slashing of services at veterans hospitals, including Northport VA Medical Center, local elected officials have demonstrated exemplary behavior to ensure our veterans are properly cared for.

Among the recommendations in the report are the downsizing and reorganizing of the Northport location, which will transition into a subacute care facility. Inpatient medical and surgical procedures will be moved from Northport to Stony Brook University Hospital and NYU Langone Hospital in Mineola. Services that are offered now in Northport will be provided by St. Albans VA Medical Center in Queens and its community partners.

The VA has cited the changing needs of local veterans and millions of dollars of repairs needed for the Northport VA as their reasons.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is taking action, unveiling an advocacy plan with the hopes of defeating these recommendations. His first call of action is to circulate a petition across the Island. In a press release, the senator said he would present the signatures in a personal meeting to those who proposed the Northport reductions, also including closing two New York City VA hospitals. He will ask local hospital officials to express concerns about treating veteran-specific conditions and will then take the matter to the VA.

Schumer said he will bring the matter to President Joe Biden (D) if necessary.

In a press release, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) said that he will work with the Long Island veterans community to figure out the “best path forward.” U. S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) also criticized the report, saying that elected officials were not consulted on the recommendations.

The report has evoked bipartisan support for the VA hospital and rightfully so. Our veterans have given up so much to protect their fellow citizens. When they enlisted, they risked their safety and sometimes their lives to guarantee the rights of all Americans. Thanks to our vets, we can criticize the government, assemble freely, and enjoy the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

Through their words, Americans often thank our veterans for their service. Now is the time to thank them through action. Residents should call the offices of their U.S. senators and representatives and demand that they join the fight to keep veterans health services as local and accessible as possible.

Veterans-specific care needs to be expanded, not slashed. Thank a veteran today by taking action.

Sponsored by Northwell Health and PSEG Long Island

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will thank veterans and active military personnel and their families for their extraordinary service, on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 12, 13 and 14 from noon to 4 p.m.

The Museum will offer them free general admission plus guided Mansion tours and Planetarium shows. (Veterans’ proof of military service, or active-duty military ID required for complimentary guest admission.)

Veterans Day – which commemorates the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 that signaled the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day – honors veterans of all wars.

The Vanderbilt salutes veterans and active military personnel in honor of the Vanderbilt family’s 132-year participation in U.S. military history – from the War of 1812 through World War II. William K. Vanderbilt II (1878-1944), an accomplished sailor and yachtsman, served in the Navy during World War I and later was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

In 1941, the U.S. government had purchased Mr. Vanderbilt’s Sikorsky amphibious plane for wartime duty. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the horrific destruction of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought Mr. Vanderbilt’s support to help defend the nation.

Mr. Vanderbilt gave his 264-foot yacht Alva to the Navy, which converted it to a gunboat, the USS Plymouth. (Before the war, he moored the Alva near the mansion, in Northport Bay.) The Plymouth was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on August 4, 1943.

*Please note starting Monday, November 8th, the Mansion, Museum, and Planetarium will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Please bring a Mask: Face Coverings Required Indoors for All Visitors Ages 2+

For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Rogovitz with his son Gene and his grandson Gavin surfing at Gilgo Beach in Babylon. Photo from Rogovitz

Charles Rogovitz hopes to get bottom dentures so he can relieve the stomach pain he gets from partially chewed food and can eat an apple again. Todd Warren needs to have a root canal to become eligible for a new kidney. 

Rogovitz and Warren are two of the veterans who will attend free Port Jefferson-based St. Charles Hospital’s “Give Vets a Smile” clinic on Nov. 3.

The event, which has become biannual this year and is fully booked, will provide dental care for 20 to 25 veterans.

Currently sponsored by a grant from Mother Cabrini Foundation, St. Charles has been providing an annual dental clinic for veterans since 2016.

“Our goal is to reach out to the [veterans] who do not have traditional insurance through employers,” and who “fall through the cracks,” Dr. Keri Logan, director in the Department of Dentistry at St. Charles, explained in an email. “That includes veterans who are not 100% disabled and perhaps make too much money for Medicaid, those that are homeless and the like.”

St. Charles hopes to “get as much done for them as possible,” which means that appointments typically include a visit with a hygienist as well as a dentist, Dr. Logan added.

Dr. Logan explained that veterans who do not have insurance or the means to go to a dentist regularly for routine cleanings and treatment have an increased incidence of cavities, infections and/or periodontal disease.

The event is in memory of Mark Cherches, who spent 57 years at St. Charles Hospital’s Dental Clinic and played a key role in bringing Give Veterans a Smile day to the hospital.

Dr. Cherches “heard of this from another facility a few years back and he was instrumental in giving us the idea,” Dr. Logan explained.

St. Charles is hosting the event at the Stephen B. Gold Dental Clinic.

Ruth Gold, wife of the late Stephen Gold, who was a pediatric dentist and for whom the clinic is named, appreciates the fact that the clinic is expanding with outreach programs to help the community.

The daughter of World War II veteran Milton Kalish, Gold is thankful for members of the armed forces who are “defending our country.”

Gold added that her husband would be “pleased” with the effort. “These are people who wouldn’t ordinarily go out to get their teeth checked, so this is very important.”


Indeed, Rogovitz hasn’t been to a dentist in a quarter of a century.

A retired contractor who was a sergeant in the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1967, 1968 and 1969, Rogovitz has lost his bottom teeth over the years, pulling them out when they come loose.

A resident of Babylon Village, Rogovitz has visited dentists, who estimated that it would cost $2,400 and about eight months to provide dentures for his lower jaw. He also needs dentures on his upper jaw.

“I’m hoping for the best,” Rogovitz said. “Worst comes to worst, I’ll get a lower denture and I’ll be able to masticate my food properly and not have stomach issues.”

Rogovitz has circled Nov. 3 on his calendar with highlighter in multiple colors.

The retired marine has been eating soft foods.

Rogovitz owes his life to his son Gene, who urged him to see a doctor for a general checkup in 2016. The doctor found early stage prostate cancer, which is in remission.

Rogovitz is convinced he developed cancer during his service in Vietnam, when he was given a bag of defoliant and was told to rip it open and scatter it in the grass. 

In addition, he lay in fields sprayed with Agent Orange.

Despite his health battles, Rogovitz, who calls himself a “young 74,” enjoys surfing with his son and his nine-year-old grandson, Gavin.

In addition to biting into an apple, which he hasn’t done in about 12 years, he hopes to chew on an ear of corn on the cob.


A veteran of the Navy who went on three deployments during Desert Storm, Warren has received dialysis three days a week for over 18 months.

Warren, whose rank was Petty Officer 2nd Class E5, would like to join the list for a kidney transplant.

“You have to be cleared by all these departments first,” said Warren, who is a resident of Bay Shore. “One of them is dental.”

Unable to do much walking in part because of his kidney and in part because of his congestive heart failure, Warren can’t join the organ recipient list until he has root canal.

“All of that is holding me up,” Warren said. “I have to get this root canal to get this kidney transplant.”

While St. Charles Hospital can’t guarantee any specific treatment, the dental clinic does offer root canal work as a part of that day’s free dental service for veterans.

Warren, who is 53, has sole custody of his nine-year-old son, Malachi. 

An athlete in high school who played basketball and soccer and ran track, Warren is limited in what he can do with his son in his current condition.

Warren had two teeth extracted at the Veterans Administration and is also hoping to fill that hole. When he drinks, he sometimes struggles to control the flow of liquid, causing him to choke on soda or water.

“I’m trying to do the best I can” with the missing teeth in the bottom of his mouth and the need for a root canal in the top, he said.

On behalf of himself and other veterans, Warren is grateful to St. Charles Hospital.

“I appreciate what they’re doing,” Warren said. “Let’s take care of the vets who were willing to put their lives on the line for this country.”

Stock photo
Flyer from the VFW

Together with the Rocky Point Varsity Club, the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 will be hosting its first annual mattress fundraiser this weekend. 

On Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., every purchase benefits the VFW and Rocky Point Varsity Club.

According to the VFW, bases, pillows, mattress protectors and more will be available, along with twin (starting at $199), full (starting at $249), queen (starting at $299) and king (from $499).

More than 25 styles will be on display, brand new, with full factory warranties. Delivery will be available, and all forms of payment are accepted, as well as financing. 

Photo from Bruce Miller

The local American Legion chapter has a lot going on this month.

The Wilson Ritch Post No. 432, founded in 1919, is asking Suffolk County veterans in the Port Jefferson and Port Jefferson Station area to join in their comradeship and dedication to their country’s heritage, history and constitution. 

Earlier this week on Memorial Day, the members payed homage to fallen comrades at the Crowley Park in Port Jefferson Station and Port Jefferson’s Harborfront Park. The event was followed by a dedication of land to the post from the Prechtl family, and a raffle that has earned $1,000 for two scholarships of graduating Comsewogue seniors.  

On Saturday, June 5, they will be hosting The Legion’s Convention of 46 county posts. Elected officials from the village, town and county are expected to speak. 

Photo from Hometown Hope

On Tuesday, May 25, local nonprofit Hometown Hope gathered with members of the Port Jef-ferson Fire Department, as well as representatives from village and local government to honor three fallen heroes in honor of Memorial Day.

American flags were installed in front of Village Hall in memory of local residents David George Timothy Still, U.S. Navy; Honorary Chief Frederick J. Gumbus, U.S. Army Air; James Von Oiste, U.S. Marine and Belle Terre resident; and Victor Gronenthal, U.S. Army and the husband of a current resident.

Hometown Hope plans to add more flags each year to honor those local heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom.


The LoRusso brothers at West Point Academy. Photo from family

“Always remember those service members that died on this day. They did not lose their lives, they gave their life to support the freedom of the American people,” John Fernandez, Shoreham resident.                                                                 

These are the words of army veteran, 1996 Rocky Point High School and 2001 United States Military Academy graduate Fernandez on the meaning of this national holiday. A combat veteran that was severely wounded in Iraq, he has the constant reminders of his service to America. This local father of six children, recalls the sacrifices of his grandfathers, who both fought during World War II. The North Shore does not have to look far to understand the importance of Memorial Day through the experiences of our local citizens.

Gary Suzik, a resident of Rocky Point, served in the navy from 1963 to 1967. He has the unique experience of being stationed on naval ships that were off the coast of Vietnam, within the Mediterranean Sea, and during the Dominican Crisis in 1965.

Joseph Cognitore, Post 6249 Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander. Photo from family

Suzik was on the first crew to serve on the USS La Salle, where he operated the landing craft that were launched from this ship. While Suzik is a native of Michigan, the La Salle was built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and it was launched for its duty in 1964. This Vietnam and Cold War veteran’s father fought during the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944, and his three uncles were in the air force, army and marine corps during World War II.

Longtime resident of Miller Place and Wading River veteran Dan Guida was an army lieutenant. This 76-year-old member of Post 6249 Rocky Point Veterans of Foreign Wars was drafted into the army in 1966.  Guida had extensive training as an armor officer at Fort Knox, Kentucky and he was deployed to South Vietnam between 1967 and 1968. He was stationed 50 miles south of Da Nang near the former border between these two warring nations.  

Some 54 years ago, Guida vividly identified his time with I Corps in this war, as there were no days off against an enemy that was dangerous and willing to fight at every moment. As a tank platoon leader of tanks and armored personal carriers, Guida is proud of his time in uniform and is always pleased to be with his fellow “brothers in uniform” at Post 6249.

Pat Biglin had a vastly different military job than many of his fellow comrades at this post. From 1963 to 1967, Biglin was in the air force where he was stationed in Turkey, only 60 miles away from the former Soviet Union. As a young man, he spied on this communist Super Power on a base that was located on the Black Sea, that was situated in north eastern portion of this North Atlantic Treaty Organization power. 

Biglin’s position was part of the security service that was made up of 1% of all members of the air force through its ability to analyze communication and intelligence transmissions from this former enemy.  This special unit tracked every plane that took off within the Soviet Union and he broke coded messages that were sent directly to the National Security Agency. Always armed with a big smile and a can-do attitude, Biglin continues to serve Post 6249 as its military chaplain.

A resident from Middle Island Glenn Ziomek was a finance administrator that was sent to Frankfurt, Germany after the end of the Vietnam War. While this was a difficult period for this country after the loss of Vietnam, Ziomek recalled that the morale was good among American soldiers at this European army base. 

Joseph Cognitore, Post 6249 Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander. Photo from family

He enjoyed the traveling throughout Germany and Austria, the culture of these countries, and personally speaking to these people. But he vividly remembered hostile anarchy that was created by the German terrorist group Baader Meinhof Gang that caused havoc near the American military bases. 

For Ziomek, Memorial Day is a moment where he likes to think of his father who served in the navy during World War II and his uncle who survived the D-Day landings, who was later shot in the arm and wounded.

Since the creation of this republic, there has always been family ties of defense of this country. You do not have to look far to notice the strength of character of patriotism that is still demonstrated today by Tom and Ray Semkow. Like many families, their parents endured many stressful times, as these two sons were involved within continuous fighting over several years in South Vietnam. 

A city boy that grew up on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan, Ray entered the United States Marine Corps in 1965. After he graduated from boot camp at Paris Island, South Carolina, he was sent to South Vietnam. Overseas, Ray was a mechanic and a door gunman that was attached to the I Corps out of Phu Bai, that was near the city of Hue. 

Ray flew countless missions in the Quang Tri Province to pick up numerous casualties, where he helped bring them to safety for medical attention. He also conducted classified operations that saw him enter Laos to deter the enemies use of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that supplied the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong with soldiers and supplies.  

Before Tom was sent to Vietnam, he spent two weeks with his brother, who returned home from completing his duty in this war-torn country. In 1968, Tom was a combat medic in the army’s 5th Special Forces that was in the Mekong Delta during deadliest year of this war during the Tet Offensive.  

Tom trained South Vietnamese soldiers and he identified the terrible losses amongst the civilians and the many children that were killed and wounded by booby-traps that were used by the Viet Cong. 

On this Memorial Day, he thinks of the losses that were felt by his own men during the extremely dangerous days of Tet against the enemy. Both brothers still serve today through their devoted efforts of Post 6249 into making this community into a better place.

The LoRusso brothers at West Point Academy. Photo from family

Mike Biscardi is a younger member of Post 6249 that served in the army from 2009 to 2018. He was a military police officer that was attached to the 800th Military Police out of Fort Totten, New York, and the 305th that was in Wheeling, West Virginia. 

This local veteran was sent to Bagram, Afghanistan and later to Germany through “Operation of the Atlantic” to monitor the Russian invasion of the Crimea, Ukraine. Most recently, Biscardi has been deployed to Jones Beach to help the New York Department of Health to administer the COVID-19 vaccination shots. On this Memorial Day, he recalls the military service of his good friend from Shoreham who had passed away. To remember this lost service member, he participates in the annual Michael P. Murphy four-mile race around Lake Ronkonkoma to honor his good friend.  

And always next to these veterans from various conflicts and times within every branch of the military is Joseph A. Cognitore. This long-time commander of Post 6249, served in Vietnam as a platoon sergeant, that fought in Cambodia, and was awarded the Bronze Star.  

Ever since the first Gulf War, Cognitore’s has always presented an iron will to help the veterans of this community, state and nation. On Memorial Day, Cognitore thinks of the army soldiers that fought with him at the end of the Vietnam War, and his own son — graduate of Rocky Point High School — Joseph Jr., that is currently serving as a colonel in the army. 

Like that of the Semkow brothers, this part of the North Shore has a multitude of families that have seen their loved ones enter the military. Nicholas, Kevin, Brian and Larry LoRusso were talented athletes and all attended West Point where they played lacrosse. 

Three of the brothers, Kevin, Brian and Larry served as platoon leaders within the field artillery and Nicholas was an engineer that also taught military sciences at this school. Currently, Nicholas is still in the army as a major, and was deployed to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2012. 

A former captain of the Army lacrosse team, Kevin served in Afghanistan in 2011. Three of the older brothers are married and they have started families of their own. 

On this Memorial Day, Nicholas said, “I was able to come home, where other service members did not.  On this date, I hug my kids a little tighter and give my wife an extra kiss.”  

Kevin wants to remember his lost classmates and soldiers that he was deployed with overseas. He believed that these soldiers were the “true heroes” that he honors on this holiday.

A graduate of Rocky Point High School in 2013, Matthew N. Amoscato, attended the United States Maritime Academy at Kings Point, New York, graduating in 2018 with a degree in marine engineering.  

Matthew Amoscatto. Photo from family

Right now, Amoscato is training to become a pilot in Pensacola, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas. Currently he lives in Oklahoma, where he is undergoing survival training in Coronado, California. This pilot of E-6 B Mercury Boeing 707 military aircraft would like to thank all those men and women that have “carried the torch of duty” before his time in the navy.

Craig McNabb, a current Suffolk County Corrections Officer, and the son of a veteran that fought in Iraqi Freedom, believes there is more to Memorial Day than “BBQ’s and a shopping holiday.”

 A graduate of Rocky Point High School in 2014, he was trained as a Protection Service Detail that ensured the security of high-ranking officers, and American and foreign political officials at Bagram and Kabul, Afghanistan. He personally escorted former Secretary of Defense leaders of Ash Carter and James Mattis. 

McNabb was stationed in this tumultuous nation during a dangerous period of when the Taliban utilized explosives to strike fear and losses into the American military and the civilian population.  

Rocky Point High School Social Studies Teacher Bill Weinhold spent several years in the United States Coast Guard before entering the classroom. This teacher and coach is the youngest veteran to be serving in this school district.  

Weinhold remembers Memorial Day of 2010, “as my first military holiday in the service. I had been on my ship for several months at this point and was underway on the USCGC Naushon running fisheries enforcement missions. I remember the cool, rainy Southeast Alaskan spring day handling lines for the small boat we would launch to intercept fishing vessels to ensure they were acting in compliance with Alaskan and federal regulations.”  

It is not difficult to see the positive influence of the Coast Guard on the daily routines that Weinhold presents to his students through his teaching and coaching abilities.

Thank you to those veterans that continue to make this nation extremely proud of their on-going service to defend the United States. Especially those graduates from the North Shore that have fought within every branch of the military.  

Rocky Point High School students Madelynn Zarzychi and Sean Hamilton helped write this article.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.

Smithtown East High School Principal Kevin Simmons, right, and local veterans stand in front of the school's Wall of Heroes at the May 26 event. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A few days before Memorial Day, Smithtown East High School officially unveiled its salute to alumni who served in the armed forces.

Smithtown East High School Principal Kevin Simmons, right, and advisers and members of the students leadership committee stand in front of the school’s Wall of Heroes at the May 26 event. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A dedication ceremony was held at the high school May 26 to honor past students who attended East as well as the former Central and Smithtown Branch high schools in the district. East Principal Kevin Simmons announced that the project was also beginning to receive submissions from those who attended High School West.

East’s Wall of Heroes situated in the hallway outside of the school’s Little Theater features the name, military portrait, high school graduation year and branch of military service of each graduate whose information was submitted.

Simmons said the project was a “multiyear labor of pride” that started with the school’s leadership committee students who wanted to honor alumni who served in the armed forces.

“As the central framework began to take root, we encountered several delays due to buildingwide construction issues and, of course, an unexpected pandemic,” he said.

The principal added, “Despite the obstacles and challenges that lay before them, our leadership students persevered and continued to march forward following the lead of Mr. Bill Coderre, a proud veteran himself. Whether working virtually, hybrid or live in person, our leadership students stayed the course until this worthy and overdue mission was complete.”

Simmons said above the Wall of Heroes are the symbols of each branch of the U.S. military. Underneath the main visual are seven monitors that feature each alumni’s name, photo and military information.

“This beautiful monument will proudly be displayed here in High School East for many years to come, reminding us all of the selfless acts and heroism of our alumni, and what they’ve accomplished in order to protect our lives, our liberty and our freedoms,” the principal said.

On hand for the ceremony and to help cut the grand opening ribbon were members of Smithtown’s American Legion James Ely Miller Post 833. The members helped the school’s leadership club with the project and featured visuals of the wall on the post’s website.

To help fund the wall, the leadership group started the high school’s field of honor. Community residents were asked to donate $20 for a flag that was placed on the school’s football field along Woodlawn Avenue. Donors were able to fill out a card to dedicate the flag to a veteran, active service member, law enforcement, etc.

For those interested in viewing the wall or being included, visit the Smithtown High School East website page which features a Wall of Heroes link.