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Patti Matarazzo Receives Service to Veterans Award

School Librarian Co-Wrote ‘History of Westbury for Kids’

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano honored our nation’s heroes on Friday, Aug. 5 at the 24th Annual Salute to Veterans ceremony, held at Eisenhower Park’s Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre. This year’s event was dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military airmen who served during World War II.

The ceremony began with the traditional “Roll Call of the States,” before Mangano then recognized, thanked and applauded each veteran and active duty service person in the audience and asked for a moment of silence for all United States troops deployed around the world.

Patricia Matarazzo, of Westbury, has been a loyal advocate for veterans as an educator, encouraging her students to pay their respects to those who made the supreme sacrifice and acknowledge their service to our country.

Matarazzo, a librarian in the Westbury School District, has also published a book entitled History of Westbury for Kids with fellow educator Susan Tazzi.

“On behalf of our 1.3 million residents, I thank all of our veterans and those currently serving in the armed forces for their service to our country and their dedication to keeping us safe,” said Mangano.  “We salute their sense of honor, we salute their courage and we salute their love of country.”

According to a previous issue of The Westbury Times, Lt. Col. Spann Watson, who during World War II served as a P-51 Mustang pilot with the famed Tuskegee Airmen’s 99th Fighter Squadron, moved to Westbury after spending 24 years as a lead pilot.

Watson built his dream home here in Westbury before assuming the posts of equal opportunity specialist and air traffic specialist with the Federal Aviation Authority. Watson, 66 years after joining with the Tuskegee Airmen, received a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service. He passed away in April 2010.

Seven other local veterans were honored with the Distinguished Service to Veterans award, presented by the County Executive.

The Distinguished Service Award recipients include:

Mike Hirsch, of Plainview, is a Korean War Veteran who has donated his services to the Salvation Army residence, Rebuilders Together and Homes for our Homecoming Heroes.

Joseph Ingino, of Hicksville, is past president of Chapter 82, Nassau County Vietnam Veterans of America, who has facilitated visits to returning wounded at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Jack Stein, a Vietnam Veteran who has worked with veterans groups for the past 35 years, helping to provide physically challenged veterans ramps for their homes.

John Devine, injured during his service in Vietnam with the Marine Corps in 1967, went on to dedicate his services to assist amputees and became vice president of the National Amputation Foundation. He is a resident of Massapequa.

Robert Olden, a Roosevelt resident, is a former member of the Tuskegee Airmen and longtime resident of Roosevelt who spent his life serving fellow veterans and their families.

Joseph Slattery, Jr., a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Pacific Area Command in Vietnam and is a life member of the VFW, AMVETS, American Legion and the Vietnam War Veterans Association. He is a resident of Plainview.

The Salute to Veterans ceremony was followed by a free concert, featuring the USO Liberty Bells and Dean Karahalis and the Concert Pops of Longa.