Written by Joe Scotchie: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 20 April 2012 00:00
Last Sunday, the Village of Massapequa Park honored the mother of one of the most extraordinary veterans in the village’s history.
A Gold Star Mother plaque was dedicated by the village to Theresa Santora, the mother of Sgt. Jason A. Santora, a U.S. Army Ranger and Silver Star recipient who perished in action in Afghanistan on April 23, 2010. The ceremony took place at the Veterans Monument at Sunrise Highway and Park Boulevard.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Village of Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Joseph Pinto, Colin F. O’Donnell, district court judge Nassau County; Douglas J. Lerose, district court judge Nassau County; Commander Jack Hipp, American Legion Post 1066; and Commander Richard Begandy, VFW Post 7763.
At the ceremony, Mayor Altadonna gave homage to Sgt. Santora.
“We’ve come together to continue a sad but proud tradition,” Mayor Altadonna began. “We have lost another son and we remember him today and always at our Massapequa Park Veterans Memorial. But with the loss, we also honor his mother who has made her own sacrifice.
“Army Ranger Jason Santora died last year, serving his country, protecting his fellow Rangers, fulfilling his mission as a soldier, living a life of active duty he so loved [and] making his parents proud.
“Jason was born and raised in Massapequa Park. We are honored to have had him in our community as a good son, as a good man.
“We share in the grief of his family, especially his parents, Gary and Theresa, and his sister, Gina.
“And today, at our Gold Star Memorial, we honor Theresa, who - as Jason’s mother - has made the sacrifice of giving her son to the service of our great country - and her son, who has made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
“Theresa, as we recognize you as a Gold Star Mother, please accept this honor as we extend our condolences to you and your family,” Mayor Altadonna concluded. “On behalf of our village, your neighbors, your friends, and everyone here whose lives have been touched by you and by Jason, we honor the sacrifice you have made with love, dignity and the truest form of patriotism.”
Sgt. Santora died from wounds sustained during combat action in the Logar Province, Afghanistan. At the time, Sgt. Santora was serving as an Army Ranger fire team leader. Another team leader, Sgt. Ronald A. Kubik of Brielle, NJ also perished in the same battle.
Santora’s untimely death was met with three of the military’s highest medals, all awarded posthumously: The Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.
At the time of his death, Sgt. Santora was serving his fourth tour of duty. A 2003 graduate of Sachem North High School, he had enlisted in 2006. Sgt. Santora performed two tours each in both Iraq and Afghanistan and according to published reports, he had hoped to start recruiting for the Army in the summer of 2010.
During his years in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Sgt. Santora had earned an impressive list of decorations and medals, including the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Medal Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with combat star, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two combat stars, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.
Sgt. Santora, as noted, was survived by his parents Gary and Teresa, and a sister, Gina. After his death, Sgt. Santora was remembered fondly by his younger sister as the ideal older brother. When Gina turned 16, the family, according to published reports, was unable to throw the traditional Sweet 16 party. No matter. Gina’s older brother stepped in and used money from his pool cleaning job to pay for the party. It was a gesture Gina never forgot as she later told the media that “every girl should have a big brother like him.”
And that was exactly the kind of man the Village of Massapequa Park honored last Sunday.