Jack Mahoney is the oldest living alum of Central High School’s chapter of Omega Gamma Delta, to which he pledged one year after the its 1937 founding. After he graduated from high school, Mahoney served in World War II as a Navy pilot from 1942 to 1945, and was the last person to land a plane at the old Pan Am terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport.
“I’m just so glad I became a Navy pilot,” said Mahoney, 94.
When his fraternity brother Jerry Lange discovered that Mahoney was living at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook, a 350-bed long- and short-term care facility, he decided to honor Mahoney at the chapter’s 80th anniversary celebration in August. Lange then contacted with Long Island State Veterans Home Executive Director Fred Sganga to arrange transportation for Mahoney to attend.
“He was the hit of the night, and every single woman wanted his autograph,” Lange joked. “It was amazing.”
At the anniversary celebration, fraternity brothers sold t-shirts and insignias and ran a 50-50 raffle to raise money for the Long Island State Veterans Home. By the end of the night, they raised $1,500 for the nursing home and rehabilitation facility.
On Nov. 18, Lange and several of his fraternity brothers presented Mahoney with the check for the Veterans Home at a ceremony in the building’s multipurpose room. The room was filled to capacity with Veterans Home members who wanted to watch their colleague be honored.
“What’s exciting for us is one of our members is being honored for his participation in something that was important in his youth,” said Sganga.
Mahoney also received a Veterans Day proclamation from the New York State Department of Veterans Affairs, which was presented by Michele Oster, who heard about the event from Lange.
For Chris Argento, a fraternity brother and Vietnam veteran, the visit was a reminder of when his father received rehabilitation at the Veterans Home for 105 days in 2001.
“I watched him come in, in the state that he was and I saw him come out of here, and that was just truly amazing,” Argento said of his father
The brothers also spoke about Owen Salvage, another former brother who was beheaded in World War I, and thanked the members of the Veterans Home for their service to the country.
“We’re here today to honor Owen Salvage, Jack Mahoney, all you men and women, all of you folks who did what you did as part of the ‘greatest generation,’” Lange said in his speech. “We love you, we honor you. You are what makes America great.”
Anyone who would like to learn more about the Long Island State Veterans Home is encouraged to visit listateveteranshome.org or call (631) 444-8387.