Written by Judy Epstein Friday, 28 May 2010 08:00
Arthur George, commander of the American Legion Post 509 in Port Washington, has announced the selection of Albert Imperatore as co-Grand Marshal of this year’s Memorial Day Parade, which will take place on Monday, May 31.
Albert Imperatore was born in 1919 and raised in the Fordham neighborhood of the Bronx, the second youngest of nine brothers and sisters. After graduation from Theodore Roosevelt High School there, Albert went to work for the U.S. Customs Service in Brooklyn, which at the time was the busiest port in the nation.
Imperatore was drafted in 1943. “When I went for my physical,” he recounted, “there were three desks: Navy, Army, and Marine. They pointed me to the Marines’ desk, but I said, ‘No.’ ‘You don’t want to be a Marine?’ they asked me. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I want to be in the Navy, because my father was in the Navy.’”
Imperatore served in the Navy, as a Storekeeper, 2nd Class, from July, 1943 to January, 1946. He provided the following details of his service:
“I served in Pacific Fleet, Task Force 58, aboard U.S.S. Miami CL 89. (CL designates a Light Cruiser.) On the U.S.S. Miami, I joined carrier air strikes in the invasion of Saipan, Tinian and Roto, Guam, Pagan Island and the Bonin Islands, in support of the Marianas Campaign, where ground forces were struggling to take the islands.
“Then we supported raids on Iwo Jima, in the Bonins. We continued strikes on Palau in the Philippines and liberated it. We departed Ulithi for strikes on Okinawa where the U.S. Task Force was under attack by kamikaze airplanes, and brought down our first enemy plane on the 20th of September. The 7th Fleet landed General McArthur on the shore of Leyte Gulf (on October 20, 1944), fulfilling his pledge ‘I shall return.’
“In the sea battle of Leyte Gulf, Navy planes sank Japan’s super battleship Musashi and heavily damaged their heavy cruiser Myoko. When word arrived of Japan’s fleet off northern Luzon (in the Philippines), Admiral Halsey ordered the carriers to speed north. U.S.S. Miami accompanied them.
“In January, 1946, U.S.S. Miami operated air strikes on Formosa. While engaged in air strikes, U.S.S. Miami sighted a ‘Zeke’-type enemy plane and shot it down.
“The U.S.S. Miami steamed close to Japan for air strikes against targets in the Tokyo area.”
Before going to war in 1943, Albert married Phyllis, now 90, who was from the same neighborhood in the Bronx. He still remembers it as “the happiest day of my life.”
After the war, Albert returned to work with the U.S. Customs Service in Brooklyn.
Albert and Phyllis Imperatore came to Port Washington in 1946, following Al’s brother Tom, who had moved here already and who told them about more houses for sale. Albert and Phyllis moved to the Manorhaven neighborhood. Tom was in Soundview, where he actually became next-door neighbor to this year’s other Grand Marshal, Eugene Taubel.
Albert and Phyllis have two sons, Albert, Jr. and Richard. Richard is married with three children of his own: Christine, Richard, Jr., and Jeanine. It is a big season for the Imperatore family: Christine graduates Memorial Day weekend from the University of California San Diego, while Jeanine graduates in June from Schreiber High School. Richard, Jr. is a student at Wesleyan.
Albert Imperatore has been a member of Port Washington’s American Legion post for the past 20 years.
Arthur George advises that this year’s parade will step off from Campus Drive at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 31. It will then proceed down Main Street, with a memorial ceremony immediately afterward at the Sousa Bandshell in Sunset Park.
The American Legion will also be flagging the graves of all veterans at Nassau Knolls Cemetery on Sunday, May 30.