11/11/14 2:48pm
11/11/2014 2:48 PM
The Riverhead Combined Veterans Committee held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Tuesday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Riverhead Combined Veterans Committee held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Tuesday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Combined Veterans Committee hosted its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Tuesday morning at the First World War Memorial on West Main Street, honoring those who have served and are currently serving in the United States’ armed forces.

Comprised of the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, the committee welcomed Councilman John Dunleavy — himself a Vietnam veteran — to speak at the ceremony.

Below is an excerpt from his speech. Click through for more photos from the ceremony.

“Today is truly an American holiday. It’s the day we recognize the men and women who have fought and worked to ensure our freedom as citizens of this great country. These veterans have played crucial roles in over 20 major military conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Future veterans are currently engaged in action throughout the world. These men and women wake up each day with one mission — to protect the interests of the United State of America and to ensure the freedoms we enjoy daily to remain protected now and in the future.”

11/10/14 4:24pm
11/10/2014 4:24 PM
Veterans are honored each year at Riverhead's annual Veteran's Day ceremony at the World War I memorial. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

Veterans are honored each year at Riverhead’s annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at the World War I memorial. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

There are several ceremonies scheduled for Tuesday in recognition of Veterans Day on the North Fork. There’s also a “Veterans Day Dinner” event that’s running from noon to 9 p.m. today, Monday, in Greenport.

See below for a complete list of events.

(more…)

11/11/13 5:10pm
11/11/2013 5:10 PM
JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | A member of the Riverhead VFW salutes the flag on Monday.

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | A member of the Riverhead VFW salutes the flag on Monday.

A few hundred people came out to Calverton National Cemetery on a sunny Monday afternoon for the annual Veterans Day ceremony.

The ceremony was nearly derailed this year due to a federal government shutdown, master of ceremonies Dennis Krulder said, though it went on as scheduled at the nation’s largest national cemetery, spanning over 1,000 acres.

Guest speakers included Representative Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy, and Joe Sledge, public affairs officer at the Veterans Affairs Northport Medical Center.

Bishop recognized the Calverton cub scout pack 404 for projects they had done with veterans recently, conducting flag retirement ceremonies on their behalf and adopting some veterans as pen pals.

Sledge, a peacetime veteran himself, pointed to the good deeds done by some of his colleagues in the crowd – acts as simple as driving disabled veterans from place to place, to planting a garden to be able to sit by and enjoy – as evidence of some ways vets are giving back to their own at the VA.

Quoting from “The Prophet,” Sledge ended with the following: ”‘Your friend is your needs, answered. He is your field, which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.’

“Everyone in this area- in this beautiful cemetery right now who served in U.S. armed forces – we thank you. We thank you for being our board and our fireside. We thank for your feeding us when we came to you hungry. And we think you most importantly for peace.”

Click through for some photos from Monday’s ceremony below. If you attended, feel free to add in your own.

11/11/13 1:43pm
American Legion commander Mike Pankowski and Ladies Auxillary vice president Darlene Folkes place the wreaths at the War Memorial Monday morning.

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | American Legion commander Mike Pankowski and Ladies Auxillary vice president Darlene Folkes place the wreaths at the War Memorial ceremonies Monday morning.

The town’s Veterans Day ceremony was held Monday at 11 a.m. at the War Memorial on the grounds of the Suffolk County Historical Society.

The memorial was first erected in front of the former historical society building at the northwest corner of Main Street and Griffing Avenue and dedicated by Col. Theodore Roosevelt of Oyster Bay in 1920. (Son of Teddy Roosevelt.) Several thousand people attended the 1920 event.

The memorial, made of a granite block, features a bronze plaque that lists the names of 306 men from the Town of Riverhead who served in World War I.

The memorial was moved in 1926 to the current historical society building from its previous location on Griffing Avenue.

Councilman John Dunleavy was the keynote speaker for Mondays ceremony.

Below is a transcript of his speech:

Reverend Clergy, gold star parents and loved ones, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen and my fellow veterans of our country,

Today marks the 94th year that we Americans gather together to commemorate and celebrate – all heroes – past and present, who have worn the uniform of our great country. For it was in 1919, exactly 94 years ago that President Woodrow Wilson, the Senate and Congress set aside this date as a thankful nation pays honored homage to all veterans of all branches of our military … the Army, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and my branch – the U.S. Navy.

This day was not set aside as a “Bargain Day” for shopping centers …. but was set aside for keeping our part of the “Bargain” …. Offering humble salute and thanks to all those who served – whether serving in war or serving in peace.

While each American has the hard earned freedom to commemorate and celebrate Veterans Day each in their own way …. we must never, ever forget the soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors who make that freedom possible. It is our duty, our mission to honor our veterans, who honored us with their service – their sacrifice.

I join with you in thanking the good Lord everyday that since 1776, young men and women have always stepped forward in service to our country. From the War of Independence through World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and in the troubled war torn Middle East, America is blessed with the very best.

In drafting and preparing my remarks for today, Veterans Day, I was continually drawn to the words of Lincoln …. next Tuesday, November 19th, just 8 days from today, will mark the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Lincoln’s words from that cold, cloudy day exactly 150 years ago reach out and touch us today …. permit me to paraphrase Lincoln at Gettysburg by saying …. ‘It is for us the living to be dedicated here to the unfinished work of all veterans’.

In closing, I offer this …. if the great George Washington did not fear to kneel in the snow at Valley Forge to pray for his troops and the future of America …. we must then not fear to kneel in the comfort of today and humbly ask again that …. God Bless America and may God Bless all who have worn the uniform.

Thank you.

John Dunleavy

11/11/13 7:00am

T

When I was a boy and my grandmother was still alive, I can recall how no one in my family was allowed to play “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” around her. Her brother was killed during World War II, my mom would explain, and he had promised in his last letter home after two years overseas that — like Bing Crosby had sung in that hit 1943 tune — he, too, would be home for Christmas.

He was supposed  to get leave that December. Decades upon decades later, my grandmother would still break down in tears whenever she heard the song.

That’s all I ever really knew about my great uncle — until I was much older, and a relative uncovered some forgotten paperwork. What I learned was the story of a great American hero, and of love and sacrifice in a time of utter darkness and desperation.

Charles “Chic” Quinn, a Long Island Rail Road machinist from St. Albans, Queens, was 19 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. A week later, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

According to military records, Corporal Charles D. Quinn was 5 feet, 7 3/4 inches tall with blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.

During his almost two years overseas, he took part in several military campaigns against the Japanese in the Pacific, including a 1944 reconnaissance mission in Peleliu, in the island nation of Palau.

THe completed his last mission but suffered wounds at the hands of the Japanese along the way. Five days later, he died on a Navy hospital ship in the arms of a Catholic chaplain. Cpl. Quinn, a baby brother who in battle wore the Presidential Unit Citation, was later posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest award for valor in the face of the enemy.

His citation reads: “While carrying out an extremely hazardous reconnaissance mission to obtain vital information, Cpl. Quinn observed a marine officer pinned down by intense enemy rifle and machine-gun fire and imperiled by snipers. Disregarding his own personal safety, he courageously advanced in the face of the hostile fi re and killed the most threatening sniper, thereby saving the officer’s life.

“Although he received wounds during this action which later proved fatal, he steadfastly refused medical attention and completed his reconnaissance, subsequently dispatching a written report to the regimental command post before he was evacuated.”

Yes, Cpl. Quinn never made it home for Christmas. He received a military funeral at sea, according to records. He left behind three sisters; his parents had both already died. Some four months after his death, the priest who held “Chic” as he passed away sent two letters to his surviving family in the U.S. He mailed one letter to my grandmother’s home in St. Albans. The other he sent to my great-aunt Winifred, a Catholic nun then known as Sister Mary Coronata, who lived in Toledo at the time.

Both letters were typed on letterhead from the U.S.S. Samaritan, the ship on which my great-uncle died, but they are devoid of the buttoned-up military speak of the telegrams and citations.

The letter to Toledo, dated Jan. 4, 1945, reads as follows:

My dear Sister Coronata: May our dearest Lord bless you and your work abundantly during this New Year.

I was very pleased to receive your letter concerning our dear little “CHIC.” This is just what he was. During the few days that he was with us I visited him often. He was always so pleased to see a priest. He was such an innocent child and his faith so deeply rooted that I really loved him. When he first came aboard I told him that someone’s good prayers had been heard. I meant that he had not been called on the field, as so many other poor boys. He immediately responded, “Yes Father, my sister, she is a nun.” Having a sister of my own a Dominican, we had something more in common. I could not help but feel for you; for I know how my good sister would feel.

Chic was conscious till the very last moment. He was so attentive to the prayers for the dying; which was the greatest edification to me. When he breathed his last, I actually broke down myself before the doctor and nurse, as I continued to say prayers. Our dearest Lord wanted another little angel for His heavenly choir.

Please continue to pray for me, Sister; and may I ask that you have the children pray for me also. We priests of the service have so much need for prayers than before.

Sincerely in Christ,

Joseph S. McCauley

Catholic Chaplain

Not just on Veterans Day but throughout the year, let us all take time to remember our brave men and women in arms — especially those who never made it home for Christmas.

Michael White, editor

Michael White

Michael White is the editor of The Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at mwhite@timesreview.com  or at (631) 298-3200, Ext. 152. A similar version of this column first appeared in this publication in November 2008.