Celebrate Our Veterans | The Long Island Advance


By Nicole Fuentes

Veterans Day is unique in that it is the only holiday that celebrates, honors and recognizes all living veterans, whether veterans or not, women or men, in all branches of service. .

This year, the Patchogue United Veteran Organization, which includes American Legion Post 269, Amvets Post 111, and VFW Post 2913, will be holding their annual ceremony on Thursday, November 11 at the Four Corners in Patchogue Village, starting at 10:30 a.m.

Right after the ceremony, a friend of injured WWII veteran Timothy Stafford, a former 1963 Patchogue American Legion commander, will donate his Purple Heart to the post.

Faces of the American Legion Post 269

It is fitting that after the opposing voices and the debate on Election Day comes Veterans Day, so that we as a country can remember that whatever our elected officials may fight, we must first thank our veterans who dedicate their lives and service to our rights to civic engagement and participation.

The Long Island Advance pays tribute to all the veterans through some portraits collected of men and women of the region:


David Mann, an E5 sergeant in the United States Army, enlisted in 1968, just two years after graduating from Earl Vandermulen Port Jefferson High School, to serve in Vietnam.

He did his basic training in South Carolina and his Advanced Combat Engineer training in MO.

He then drove AVRSBs, large trucks that carry caterpillars for other vehicles, to Vietnam. His job was to get men in and out by driving AVLBs, mounted on M-113 armored personnel carriers, and laying tracks and jettisoning bridges. He was also an experienced machine gunner for his company. Mann participated in a total of five search and destroy missions as part of the 9e Infantry and was involved in two explosions. After the explosions, he suffered serious injuries including a broken kneecap, injuries to his arm and elbow and was awarded two Purple Hearts. In 1974, he was officially deactivated and honorably released due to injury.

“That day we lost 30 men and eliminated about 250 VC,” he said with tears in his eyes. “All I can say is this is something I never want to see again.”

Despite the hardships he endured while abroad, Mann is proud to be a veteran and says he would serve for his country again and again.

“I have the deepest respect for any man or woman to date who wears a uniform,” he said. “I am ready and will always be ready to serve my country. “

Mann has two children with his first wife and three with his second for a total of 10 grandchildren and a great grandson.


Jon Ralph is also a Vietnam-era United States Army Veteran who served three years in active duty, including two years in Germany and then in the Reserves.

Born and raised in the small town of Sac City, Iowa, he enlisted in the United States Army on his 18th birthday, but delayed actual entry into service until he graduated. high school education. He entered active service in August 1972 and underwent basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, then stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts for seven months of advanced training.

He was then assigned to the Army Security Agency as a communications security specialist and trained in telephone and radio communications surveillance as well as cryptographic security. After advanced training, he was assigned to a detachment at Grafenwoehr in Germany.

He left active service in 1975 with the rank of specialist 5 (sergeant). In 1976, he entered a technical school which taught computer programming. He then spent the next 40 years working with computers for 10 years at Citibank, then 22 years at HBO. He retired from HBO in 2016 as Director of Software Development for the HBO Broadcast Center and began his first term as Commander of the American Legion Patchogue Post 269.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve,” he said. “The lessons in the military to follow orders and do a job well the first time have lasted my entire life and have contributed to the success I have had.”



In 1967, while playing stickball in the Bronx, Charlie Tritto was approached by a pal who asked him to enlist. He enlisted in the United States Air Force the same year at the age of 19, after, admittedly, little impatient to start his sophomore year in college.

Two months later he was taken to basic training in Georgia and after a few months of polishing the floors of the community hall, he joked, he started his trade in communications. He then served as a communications specialist in the Philippines for 18 months and served a year and a half in upstate New York.

After his departure, he applied his skills to a successful career as a Wall Street communications specialist working for banks and brokerage firms. He is now retired and lives in Deer Park.

He was once a member of the American Legion in Greenlawn, but was drawn to the efforts of the Patchogue post under the leadership of a strong commander.

He has two children with his 49-year-old wife and was recently lucky enough to have a granddaughter. He also volunteers with the Patriot Guard and VA Medical Center volunteers. He is proud to be a veteran and to be in the company of other veterans.



Evelyn Montgomery-Paredes served in the United States Army from 1981 to 1987 as part of the Joint Program Pilot Training Group.

“Women training with men was tough; it was also exciting and rewarding, ”she said, proud of her groundbreaking service for women. “As a woman, that says a lot about our ability to weather the storm. I went into the ’80s, when the ideas were that women couldn’t perform as well as men back then. The core of us really went out of their way to represent women veterans.

She lived in New York City and enlisted in the Reserves at age 17 before enlisting for active service. She received basic training in South Carolina, then served in Germany and Texas.

She and her husband have a son and now live in Bellport. She works in education as an art teacher.



Richard Wahl served from 1966 to 1972 in the US Air Force. He also spent a year in Mississippi as a K-9 law enforcement unit and toured Vietnam as a perimeter guard for the airways.

While in Vietnam, his unit was attacked and they were aided by the Korean White Horse division. He then went to Plattsburg Air Force Base as a squad leader handling K-9s. He then spent a year out of service before returning in 1986 as a Bradley Gunner in the Cavalry until 1991 when he was injured in a car accident.

After war broke out in Iraq and he recovered, he was placed in National Guard status until he left service again.

“I am very proud of my service, especially my time in Vietnam,” he said.

Wahl enlisted at age 19 and served as a sergeant and corporal. He now lives in Medford.

“They’ve thanked the veterans pretty well lately. It was not like when we came back from Vietnam, ”he added. “I am proud to be a veteran. I am proud to have served my country.



Guillermo Perez enlisted at 18 after deciding not to return to school in his final year.

“My English teacher told me the full book reports were due by the end of the week, I said it wasn’t. I’m not doing a full report on a book, ”he laughed.

Perez told his mother who informed his father who told him to come and work with him the next day for a job. Instead, his father took him to the recruiting office.

“It’s so funny to me, I relive this day so many times, I can actually say I thank my dad a million times,” he said. “I love being a veteran.”

He enlisted in the Army National Guard and was stationed at Fort. Bennington, Georgia. He served from 1982 to 1988. Perez wore a T-shirt that read, “I didn’t go to Harvard; I went to Fort. Bennington.

During his time on duty, he was known to always volunteer and raise his hand. He has become an expert. He became an expert marksman and volunteered to be part of the Ranger training unit as a potential combat support in Lebanon.

“I’m really, really impressed, being a veteran you are putting your life in the hands of another stranger and they will go above and beyond for you,” he said, also proud to serve his American Legion. “We are the 1% out of 99% who served. I am very proud of what I have done and proud of my country.

He pursued a career in mental health as a counselor at Kings Park and Pilgrim State. He has a wife, a son and a daughter and lives in Mastic.


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