Veterans spend years of their lives serving their communities and the country — how can we follow their example? More than 100 people who gathered in the auditorium of Malverne High School on Sunday pondered that question as, one by one, 23 veterans from Long Island were honored with citations and applause.
The event, organized by State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, recognized the contributions made by local heroes that too often go unsung. Some honorees were in their 40s; others were senior citizens who were escorted to the podium. Still others had died years ago, and family members accepted their certificates on their behalf.
“We need to stop and remember those veterans who have given so much to our country,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “It’s important so we can learn their stories, learn about their sacrifice, and learn about how they have given so much to serve our country.”
Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick herself is from a family of veterans. Her grandfather saw combat in World War I. Her father was on active duty during the Korean War. The ceremony, she said, gave her a new level of appreciation for her family’s service.
The crowd manifested pride in the veterans in their lives — spouses beamed tearfully when their husband’s or wife’s name was called; adult children stood to take pictures of their parent being recognized; toddlers in American flag sweaters giggled and entertained delighted families.
And the attendees’ pride wasn’t limited to the loved ones they came to celebrate. Every honoree was greeted with enthusiastic applause. There was a shared understanding that each one had served and sacrificed.
Malverne Mayor Tim Sullivan and other elected officials expressed their gratitude to the local heroes. “The unbelievable experiences, both in and out of service to our country, both abroad and locally, really touched my heart,” Sullivan said. “The small ceremony here today is the least that we can do for you.”
He implored the attendees to get involved in local American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, to raise money for service dogs, to participate in local food drives — to serve, in one way or another, and be proud of it.
“Fly your flag with pride,” Sullivan said. “Because you can serve the people that we are honoring today, in honor of their service to us.”
SUB: John W. Donald
John W. Donald enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from East Rockaway High School. He trained rigorously at military bases in North Carolina and South Carolina, honing his skills as an anti-tank gunner. He was deployed twice to Okinawa, Japan. Despite the intense demands of the deployment, Donald reenlisted for an additional four years. That reenlistment ceremony occurred atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima — the very location of the iconic photograph of six Marines raising an American flag to during the final stages of World War II.
When Donald returned home from Japan, he continued to serve the armed forces as a marksmanship instructor for the next generation of Marines. He attained the rank of Sergeant, as well as multiple awards, merits, and commendations for his dedication, before being honorably discharged in October 2003.
His commitment to service didn’t stop there. Less than a month after his honorable discharge, Donald joined the Lynbrook Fire Department, eventually becoming Chief. He continues to serve as a Corporal at the county’s Sheriff Department.
SUB: Howard Kalachman
Howard Kalachman was a mortarman in the Vietnam War until he was wounded at An Khê. He has since been a proud Disabled Vietnam Combat Veteran where his service earned him the Bronze Star, the Good Conduct Medal, the 2014 Legionnaire of the Year award, and many other awards.
During his time in Vietnam, Kalachman did more than serve the armed forces — a writer, Kalachman also authored “‘Mom, I’m O.K.’ and Other Lies from Vietnam.” He wrote it not as a typical hero story, but as a reminder of the sacrifices made by both veterans and their loved ones.
Kalachman is a lifelong member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He is also a member of the American Legion, and was commander of Post 972 and is now vice commander of Post 335. In addition, he is a senior volunteer veteran mentor at the county’s Veteran Treatment Court, and has routinely volunteered with Veteran Stand Downs and the Veterans’ Affairs Hospital. His continued service to fellow veterans earned him the county’s 2022 Distinguished Service to Veterans Medal.
SUB: William P. Marinaccio
William Marinaccio enlisted in the National Guard the day after graduating high school. He trained in both light and heavy weaponry and served as a member of a mortar combat support team. But his service didn’t stop upon his return to Lynbrook.
A lifelong member of the American Legion, Marinaccio has been the commander of Post 335 for four years. And for the past six years, Marinaccio has been one of the leading organizers of the 21st Assembly District’s “Run for Heroes,” an annual race that raises funds for veterans’ programs like Comfort Warrior, Children and Youth, rehabilitation programs, and others. Marinaccio’s efforts have helped raise nearly $60,000 for veterans.
Marinaccio’s service earned him the county’s 2018 Legionnaire of the Year Award. That same year, he was selected for the assembly district’s Hall of Honor.
On top of his service to fellow veterans, Marinaccio serves his local Lynbrook community as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Mayor’s Patriots Committee and is a charter member of the Lynbrook Kiwanis Club.
SUB: Anthony Samuel
Anthony Samuel is a retired Air Force Reserve Master Sergeant. Before his time with the Air Force, he was a member of the Navy, where he participated in two Mediterranean cruises and a NATO cruise. He was a part of the 1985 mission to rescue TWA Flight 847, which carried 153 passengers and crew, after it was hijacked by gunmen.
As a civilian, Samuel served as an NYPD Sergeant Detective for 28 years. After retiring from the police force, he went on to work with the Department of Homeland Security and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Samuel currently serves his community as a school safety officer with the Lynbrook school district. He continues to be a member of American Legion Post 335, and a communications officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is an active member of “Rock and Wrap It Up,” a program that assists veterans facing food insecurity.
Samuel’s dedicated service earned him a Meritorious Service Medal, commendation medals from both the Air Force and the Navy, and a Global War on Terrorism Medal.