Written by Jill Nossa Thursday, 26 June 2014 00:00
In a celebration that took place 70 years after the end of WWII, the Glenwood Landing American Legion Post 336 in Glen Head recognized those veterans who fought for our country’s freedom and are still able to take pride in being a part of history. A special dinner and ceremony was held on Saturday, June 14, in which both the older generation of veterans and the younger generation of students who are active in the community were given awards and certificates. The ‘Awards Night’ spotlighted veterans, Eagle Scouts, college scholarship winners and the great projects at the American Legion.
Two men honored on this evening were veterans Leon Malinoski and William Swift. Both were presented with certificates and D-Day commemorative coins.
Malinoski, 88, joined the Navy in 1943 and was in for three years. Having “met a girl” during his time in service, he says that when the war was over, he was offered a promotion but didn’t take it.
“I took the liberty of taking my discharge and coming to New York,” says Malinoski, who planted his roots in Roslyn Harbor in 1952, where he still lives with his wife. They raised eight children and have nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He says the first job he took was at the Merchant Marine Academy, where he started in March
1946, and began teaching in 1953. “They asked if I would start teaching on a temporary basis and eventually it became permanent. I had a great reputation with the students...without a college degree. My
experience in the Navy helped me get the position.”
Despite having undergone two serious operations (he had colon cancer in 1994 and open heart surgery in 2010) Malinoski is proud of the fact that he still doesn’t “need anything to get around.”
“I’m still here and enjoying life every day,” Malinoski says.
Kirstin Mohammed of Glen Head, who just graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, initiated the “Kirstin Mohammed Liberator Series,” a video production series of interviews with WWII veterans.
She received a Community Service citation from Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton. North Shore High School students Paulina Calcaterra, Aleksei Wilhelm and Kevin Quinn also interviewed veterans for the Liberator Series, which was founded by 3rd Division Commander Fred Nielsen.
Mohammed says that she was approached by Nielsen to begin the project, who she says “planted the seed and helped me get where I needed to be to start my first interview and spread it along.” She is now recruiting, spreading the word and trying to get others involved before she begins college at Villanova in the fall.
“As I started getting more involved, I started to realize what exactly I was doing—the real severity of what it was and how important it is that we recognize our vets and that we continue to remember what they did for our country and remember that it wasn’t easy, they gave up their lives and their comforts just so we could live in the country that we live in right now,” says Mohammed.
Chairman Bob Bazan presented scholarships to Jacqueline D’Elia and Aleksei Wilhelm; Chairman Ralph Casey presented the Boys’ State recipients Ryan Tine and Connor Lynn; Gina Serroen and Karen Schenck from the Ladies Auxiliary presented the Girls’ State recipients Gilda DeDona and Lauren Padala.
DeRiggi-Whitton presented the Patriot Award to Commander William Laderer and the Community Service Award to Thomas Rudegeair, Scout Master of Troop #195.