VFW Post 6249 in Rocky Point thanks veteran Jerry McGrath

VFW Post 6249 in Rocky Point thanks veteran Jerry McGrath

Rocky Point VFW thanks Jerry McGrath for his service. Photo courtesy Rich Acritelli

By Rich Acritelli

On March 29, the federal government will honor the military service of our American citizens through the National Vietnam War Veterans day. 

On Saturday, March 16, VFW Post 6249 Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum thanked Wading River resident Jerry McGrath for his devotion to fighting for the United States during this conflict. A young man who was in the United States Army in South Vietnam, McGrath was an artillery sergeant in the field during the height of the fighting. 

After his enlistment ended, McGrath became a long time teacher at the Wading River Elementary School. Over his teaching career, McGrath was a beloved figure for the younger generations of students from this North Shore community. 

The affection for this teacher was recently seen as a picture of McGrath and his Vietnam War picture that has been placed in this local museum was placed on Facebook. Students from all decades responded to the kindness that McGrath presented to the boys and girls who he taught at this elementary school. 

As a fifth grader, Eric Strovink was in McGrath’s class in 1981, and affectionately recalled the life-long lessons that he learned from this iconic figure. A physical education teacher at a Mount Sinai Elementary School, Strovink was a talented baseball player and wrestler who later followed in the same career as McGrath.

Speaking in front of members of the VFW Post 6249, Strovink asked McGrath questions about his time in Vietnam, as an educator, and his love of fishing. In 1985, McGrath began instructing courses on recreational fishing. 

The positive character of McGrath and his expertise increased the class sizes through different educational and professional development workshops that were taught at local libraries and for the Suffolk County Parks Department. McGrath’s influence spread to Ward Melville, as one of his students, organized a fishing class at this high school. 

Thank you to Jerry McGrath for his patriotic sacrifices during the Vietnam War.  This disabled veteran from Wading River serves as an important reminder of local and national service that some teachers have experienced during their lifetime.