Written by Greg Bennett Friday, 19 March 2010 00:00
Charles Wagner Post 421 recognizes the achievements of Irish Americans in making America a great nation. We pause to remember Irish American heroes such as Father Duffy of World War I fame and bravery. Reverend Francis Patrick Duffy was born in Ontario, Canada, emigrated to America as a young man and was ordained in the Archdiocese of New York in 1891. During the Spanish-American War he began a career as a military chaplain , but didn’t deploy abroad. During World War I Chaplain Colonel Duffy served with the “Fighting 69th” Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard, which served 180 days in combat. Most of the soldiers were of Irish descent from New York City. Despite constant enemy artillery fire Chaplain Duffy comforted the wounded, said Mass, heard confessions and administered last rites. After the war Father Duffy became pastor of Holy Cross Church just off Broadway where he served until his death in 1932.
One time a soldier died in the arms of Father Duffy, who broke down in tears. When the soldier was an infant he was baptized by Father Duffy. For his military achievements Father Duffy was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal. France awarded him the French Legion D’honneur and the Croix de Guerre. Father Duffy is honored with a statue off Broadway near Holy Cross Church and one at Camp Smith in Cortland Manor, New York by the Post Chapel.
Last week the U.S. Congress bestowed Congressional Gold Medals on the fewer than 300 surviving Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II fame or their surviving family member.They were known as WASPs and were the first women trained to fly U.S. military aircraft. They ferried combat aircraft from defense plants to air bases. At flight schools they flew bombers with male bombadier students abroad and flew target tugs during gunnery classes.
Their leader was famed aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran who lobbied First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for a corps of female pilots. General Hap Arnold, USAAF, agreed to form the WASPs who attended flight achool at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas.
Over 1,100 women pilots served as WASPs flying over 60 million miles in every military plane available from a Piper Cub to B-29 Bombers. They were considered civilians and the military did not pay burial expenses for the 38 WASP’s who died in the line of duty. In 1977 the U.S. Congress awarded military veteran status to the WASPs.
The WASP’s were pioneers, heroes and role models for the military pilots of today. Post 421 salutes the 1,102 WASP’s and the 28 other Women Auxiliary Ferrying Service pilots who trained and served under Nancy Love in Delaware. Each World War II woman pilot would be so proud of USAF Colonel Eillen M. Collins who became the first woman Space Shuttle pilot and commander. The American Air Power Museum at 150 New South Road in Farmingdale has an excellent WASP exhibit and go to the website: WASP on the web.
Post 421 Americanism Officer Mike Grella, Vice Commander Pete Johnson and Greg Bennett interviewed male juniors at Hicksville Senior High and Holy Trinity High School to select one candidate from each school to attend the weeklong Boys State summer camp where campers run their own government, play sports and attend classes on citizenship, government and the U.S. Constitution. Special guest instructors are hand-picked outstanding U.S. Marines.
The Boys State candidates interviewed at Hicksville High were Christian Choi, Darren Schlauch, Steve Kelly, Christian Adames and Prateek Kohli. All the candidates are outstanding students who are active in student government, school clubs, sports and volunteer work in their community.
Interviewed at Holy Trinity High School were Ronald Taylor and Austin Mituniewicz. Both are outstanding students and class leaders. Ronald Taylor represented Hicksville Legion in the Nassau County American Legion Oratorical Contest. Austin Mituniewicz has won numerous medals on the Holy Trinity track team and his father is a Vietnam veteran. Ronald Taylor’s mother proudly attended the Legion Girls State program when she was a junior in high school.
The two students selected to represent the Charles Wagner Post and their respective schools at the New York American Legion Boys State were Ronald Taylor of Holy Trinity High and Prateek Kohli of Hicksville High. Vice Commander Pete Johnson told both boys they are expected to excel and run for Governor at Boys State.
Post Commander Charles Rockwood thanks all the Boys State candidates for representing their schools along with their scholastic, sports and volunteer achievements.
Post 421 Auxiliary members Arlene Howard, Helen Grella and Louise La Getta interviewed Girls States candidates Melody Ciorciari and Necha Sharma at Hicksville High School. Both candidates are outstanding students and are involved in school and community activities. Necha Sharma represented the Charles Wagner Post and Hicksville High in the Nassau County American Legion Oratorical Contest.
The Girls State candidate selected from Hicksville High School was Melody Ciorciari.
Auxiliary President Florence Ruhe and Post Commander Charles Rockwood thank both the Girls State candidates for representing Hicksville High School along with their scholastic, sports and volunteer achievements.
The New York American Legion Auxiliary Girls State will be held from June 27 to July 3 at SUNY at Brockport and classes are taught on citizenship and government and campers elect and run their own government and participate in sports.
Support is needed for the Charles Wagner Post Boys and Girls State Programs. Donations can be sent to American Legion Post 421, P.O. Box 925, Hicksville,New York 11802 earmarked for Boys State or Girls State. The Legion and Auxiliary support so many veteran and community programs that our budget can be streched thin. We thank the community for support already shown.
Charles Wagner Post welcomes eligible veterans to join our Post. Any woman who is related to a veteran can join our Auxiliary. Please join to support our veterans and troops. Remember freedom isn’t free. Meetings are held the first and third Mondays at the Hicksville VFW Hall,320 S. Broadway.