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AAM Holds Blessing Of The Roses Ceremony

Five Pearl Harbor survivors in attendance

This year marked the 71st anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The American Airpower Museum in East Farmingdale presented its annual Dropping of the Roses ceremony on Friday, Dec. 7, honoring five Pearl Harbor survivors present for the ceremonial blessing of the roses. Hundreds attended to pay honor and respect to those who perished and those who fought.

This year, Richard Abeles, USS Dale; Gerard Barbosa, USS Raleigh; Bernard Berner, Schofield Barracks; Seymour Blutt, Hickam Field; and Michael Montelione, Schofield Barracks were the guests of honor. Remaining survivors on Long Island, like Frank Castronovo, of Elmont, were unable to attend, due to health issues.

Hundreds of guests, fellow veterans, students, museum patrons and local officials gathered for the survivors’ recognition and rose blessing ceremony. A special memorial and bell ringing was also conducted for the late-veterans William Halleran, Bill Birnbach, Ned Johnson, and Moe Fletcher before the sounding of taps.

Honor Guard was performed by retired USMC Sergeant Paul Masi, Navy Operations Support Center—Amityville, Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 82, Jyne/Latten VFW Post 2913, Plainview VFW Post 5942, and Wyandanch High School Army JROTC.

Following the national anthem by Joanna Fruhauf and Cindy Montalto, Captain Francis Bonadonna, Deputy Fleet Chaplain, U.S. Pacific Fleet gave a brief invocation.

Seventy-one American Beauty roses were blessed and loaded onto the vintage Texan WWII aircraft, piloted by the Skytypers of New York.

The plane departed for the Statue of Liberty and dropped the roses over the monument at 12:55 p.m., the exact local time of the historic attack on Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii.

The Dropping of the Roses and AAM’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Ceremonies are traditions began in 1970 by the late Joseph Stanley Hydrusko to honor his fallen comrades. Hydrusko saved numerous lives at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and was a candidate for the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Continuing with tradition, the Pearl Harbor Memorial Ceremony, presented with the Long Island Air Force Association (AFA), honors not only the Pearl Harbor veterans, but includes all veterans who served during past and present conflicts. During the memorial ceremony, the Massapequa High School Band, conducted by Mark Stempel and Andrew Dwork, performed military music.