All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

American Legion Post 1097
American Legion Post 1097

American Legion Vets Still Serve

September 10, 2016
Seventy veterans, families, friends and neighbors gathered at the American Legion Post 1097 for a traditional Saturday afternoon clambake where legion members served clams, mussels, sausage & peppers, and hot dogs. It was an honor to be among the many veterans who were enlisted in the military, defending the freedom of our country.

One of the few long-time American Legion women members and veteran is Lucille (Calabase) Bates. She joined the North Castle American Legion after her service in the Women’s Army Corps (WACS) during the Korean War when she was stationed in different locations across the United States. In 1931, Bates first joined the legion as a five-year old auxiliary member. Her family, parents and five siblings all served in the United States military, dating back to the beginning of World War I. The military service of the Calabase family, and others like them, allowed future generations of the armed forces to be voluntary. The draft for the United States Armed Forces ended in 1973 when the U.S. military became an all-volunteer service system. As a result, over the last four decades, there has been a decline of members in the nation' military forces--as well as a decline in the  membership of the nation’s American Legion Posts.

American Legion Post 1097 invite immediate family members of all current and veteran military service men and women to join as auxiliary members. They also appreciate donations on the behalf of the American Legion. A show of support can be made by sending donations to 35 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY 10504.

Annual Clam Bake at North Castle’s American Legion

September 5, 2016
North Castle American Legion Post 1097 is a non-profit organization located at 35 Bedford Road, Armonk. Members of the American Legion invite the public to their annual clam bake on Saturday September 10 at 11:30 a.m. The menu includes homemade Manhattan (red) clam chowder, mussels, steamed clams, clams on the half-shell, sausage and peppers, BBQ chicken, pork, and salad.

There will be live music and some interesting veterans’ storytelling for the asking. The cost is $55 per person and is a great way to show support for the veterans of the American Legion. RSVP by Wednesday September 7 to the American Legion at 273-8178.

The American Legion membership is open to all current military servicemen and women, and veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and other military exercises to defend our nation’s freedom.

Every year, the American Legion sponsors Byram Hills junior high school students at the American Legion Boys State, while the American Legion Auxiliary sponsors the junior high school girls at the Girls State. The highly regarded educational program provides instruction in city, county and state governments to high school students.

The American Legion offers a large open room to rent for parties and social events. There is a bar, kitchen, chairs and tables for the indoors, and an outdoor picnic area, and plenty of parking. The rental prices are reasonable and members can rent the hall and pavilion at a discount. Please call the American Legion for information and to reserve the hall at (914) 273-8178.

North Castle’s American Legion was originally located on Armonk’s Main Street where Armonk Square is today. When World War II veterans returned home, they needed a bigger space, said Tony Cicia, recipient of the 2012 “Legionnaire of the Year,” past commander and longtime member of the American Legion Post 1097. The Legion purchased the property on Bedford Road from the Town of North Castle for a minimal amount and built the newer building in the 1950s.

Donations of any amount are appreciate, and help support the annual community activities in honor of the veterans of the American Legion. Checks can be sent to the American Legion, 35 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY 10504.

American Legion Post 1097 Remembered "Those Who Perished in the Service of Their Country in All the Wars"

June 1, 2016
American Legion Commander Vince Greco opened the Memorial Day service as the community gathered inside the main hall of American Legion Post 1097 to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who served in the military service.

In the Memorial Day benediction, the Reverend Nils Chittenden of St. Stephen’s Church, said, “Let us pray to recall why we are here today for those who have put the welfare of others ahead of their own and given us hearts as generous as theirs.”

Members of the Color Guard, the Civil Air Patrol, the Boy Scouts presented the colors. The service was a solemn message as Harry Tompkins, a Vietnam veteran said, “Our mission is to continue to make sure those whose mission is finished are not forgotten.”

The ceremony highlighted that today’s military efforts are from both male and female, as such service is a joint effort for all Americans. Civil Air Patrol officer Taylor Crisci, a Hendrick Hudson High School student, was the guest speaker in her role as the cadet commander of the Johnnie Pantanelli Air Force Auxiliary Civil Squadron in Katonah. The Civil Air Patrol’s members’ mission is to put planes in the air in order to serve our country. In 1946, President Harry Truman signed the Civil Air Patrol into public law and 75 years later its mission remains the same: aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services.

Crisci served in the Civil Air Patrol in the Northeast region since she was in seventh grade. The group honors our military service members and remembers their sacrifices they have "made in honor of duty, and honor of country."

"Colonel Johnnie Pantanelli is North Castle’s American Legion most revered and honored member," said Commander Grecco.  Pantanelli says she enjoys working with the younger people of the Civil Air Patrol, “They are our future. You have to listen to them, communicate with them, push them a long a little bit, as they need a little help. But let them go with it, as they will be our future presidents and chairmen of the board.”

Stepping outside, Harry Tompkins and Buddy Schultz shot off the traditional three-volley salute to honor deceased veterans. The salute represents the military tradition of the battlefield to signal for a ceasefire. If in agreement, both sides would collect their dead and wounded from the battlefield. The firing of three volleys indicated the fields were cleared and the dead were properly cared for.

After the three volley shots, Byram Hills student Tyler Hooks  played Taps, a tradition to signal “lights out,”that the "day is done," another honor for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Town Board members were in attendance and Supervisor Michael Schiliro thanked the local men and women who serve North Castle. He especially thanked the "real heroes” who serve our country with courage.  Schiliro noted that throughout North Castle, there are monuments which memorialize the participation and sacrifice of town residents over the past 100 years; these monuments are:

In Honor of the Men of the Township of North Castle Who Answered their Country’s Call in the Great World War 1917 - 1919;

In Honor of the Men of the Township of North Castle Who Fought in World War II

In Memory of Those Who Served Honorable in World War I 1917 - 1918;

In Memory of Those Who Served Honorably in World War II 1941 - 1945;

In Memory of Those Who Served Honorably in Korea 1950-1955; and

In Memory of Those Who Served Honorably in Vietnam 1961-1975.

The American Legion hall was filled to capacity, with more than 80 persons in attendance.  After the observation, refreshments were served, under the direction of former Commander Tony Cicia.

Ralph Capasso

World War II Veteran Ralph Capasso Takes Part in Hudson Valley Honor Flight
By Jackson Harrower

May 20, 2016
Armonk Resident Ralph Capasso had an excellent time taking part in the Hudson Valley Honor Flight to Washington D.C. on May 14. Mr. Capasso joined 64 veterans for the flight to see the Washington D.C. war memorials including the National WWII Memorial. 

The group visited 25 venues in one day and the members were be honored for their brave service for our country. Mr. Capasso said, “The event ran like clockwork.”

Mr. Capasso was picked up in Armonk at 6:30 a.m. by Michael, his 68 year old retired fireman escort. They drove to Westchester Airport where they were greeted by over 500 veterans, active service members, friends, and family. In Washington D.C. they received a motorcycle police escort as they traveled between memorials. The support for the group was exceptional, “70 years later it was like we had just come back from the war as heroes,” Mr. Capasso said. The oldest participant was 99 years old, while Mr. Capasso was the youngest vet at 88. All the participants were veterans of World War II. Only four of the 64 participants were in wheelchairs.

The patriotic day was filled with music, ceremonies, and shared memories.

Veterans Day: Never Forget U.S. Military Sacrifices

November 12, 2015
“The challenge we face on Veterans Day is to reconcile the disconnect between the comfortable life we civilians have at home with few of us having to suffer as the men and women in our armed forces are called to do,” said Patrick Burke, the former Commander of the American Legion Post 1097.

From the “Debt of Honor,” a new PBS documentary, Burke quoted Max Cleland, the former U.S. Senator who said, “‘America is not at war. The Marines are at war. America is at the mall.’”

If Cleland, the first disabled veteran to serve as the now Secretary of Veterans Affairs, "hits the nail on the head,” as Lois Pope, disabled veterans' advocate says, then those who were at the mall on this federal holiday should know about the brief ceremony held at North Castle's American Legion Post 1097 in honor of the men and women who served and continue to serve to defend our country.

Reverend Jeffrey Galens, pastor at Church of St. Patrick in Armonk, presented the invocation. He had us bow our heads in thankfulness “for the victories thou have granted us and those people who united us to stamp out the evils of aggression, intolerance and greed."

Vincent Grecco, the Commander of the American Legion, said that with the change of Armistice Day to Veterans Day back in 1954, men and women set aside their civil pursuits on this day to recognise their nation’s cause to defend freedom and to preserve the precious American Heritage.

“Our determination made us better warriors because we fought with our minds and with our hearts,” said Grecco. “We recognize service to our country and her cause does not end at the term of military service. We continue our endeavors on behalf of an honorable world peace with a feeling of profound gratitude to God, and the men and women who gave their lives as part of the noblest causes.”

Col. Johnnie Pantanelli, Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol, presented the colors. Colonel Pantanelli, the founder of the squadron, said she is proud of every young member of the squadron “who are our leaders of tomorrow.”

The Civil Air Patrol was founded in 1941 as part of the United States Air Force Auxiliary. If the squadron members choose to enter into military service after training, this gives them a leg up, said Col. Pantanelli. Members can start in the Civil Air Patrol as young as 12 years old. Once they turn 18, they become a senior member. Upon completing a set amount of teamwork training, drills and ceremonies, they receive one stripe as second lieutenant.

Several of the auxiliary Civil Air Patrol graduates are currently furthering their military careers. Two are in Virginia Tech, with one of them in the Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) who is to be commissioned into the Army; another is in West Point Academy; and one is an Air Force graduate in Colorado.

Also attending the Veterans Day service were two Civil Air Patrol members who hope to enroll in one of the military service academies next year. The two high school seniors said they are “knee-deep” in the college application process.

Attired in air force auxiliary uniform, Kenneth Brown, a student at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, said people don’t put enough emphasis on our veterans. As a four-year participant in the Civil Air Patrol, he knows he would not be here if it weren’t for the veterans. He reminded everyone to show veterans that we do appreciate them. “Thank you for your service,” is all that needs to be said. They need that support and they deserve so much more than we can give, but any way we can show our appreciation helps.  

Second Lieutenant Taylor Crisci climbed the ranks of the Civil Air Patrol to earn Cadet Commander. She attends Montrose’s Hendrick Hudson High School. As a five-year member of the Civil Air Patrol, she said she was there to honor those who served. As a cadet, she has taken advantage of the program’s services and just finished her first solo pilot flight. She is to receive her wings next week. As the next generation of those who may become veterans of the future, she said, “We protect the veterans’ legacy by learning what they have passed down to us. We have learned the tremendous honor and respect for those who have served in previous wars.”

Ed Miragla, Deputy Commander of the Civil Air Patrol Squadron, said there are many opportunities for young people to learn leadership through their cadet programs, and aerospace education, which follows the U.S. Air Force’s regulations and procedures. In the Civil Air Patrol since 2003, Miragla said his daughter got him involved. He is a veteran of the Second United States Army in Artillery.

The Civil Service Air Patrol does emergency services involved with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). During the most recent hurricanes they sent planes up to take pictures of the destruction which are then sent to FEMA.

Commander Grecco asked for a moment of silence for American Legion’s past year’s loss of three members: Cleo Tompkins, who was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. She was a member of Post 1097 Ladies Auxiliary and devoted many years to develop the American Legion Girls State program. Bob Glad was an honored earth science teacher at Byram Hills High School for over 25 years. He was a dedicated member of the American Legion. Howard “Bimmy” Cox was also an active and instrumental member of the American Legion.

Harry Tompkins is an honorable member of Post 1097 who served in the Vietnam War. He is a longtime boy scout leader. “It’s important that folks come out and honor the veterans,” he said.  “Especially those who have worked so hard and made sacrifices, such as 95-year-old Alfred Cialfi.”

Although that was a different time, there are still sacrifices being made by our armed forces in the field today, Tompkins added. It’s important that people remember that kind of sacrifice. He has tremendous respect for those who serve today in four or five tours of service in combat. “What they go through is astounding!”

Harry Tompkins
Alfred Ciafli
Alfred Cialfi served in four battles in the Pacific during World War II, which included Roi-Namur, Tinian, Saipan and Iwo Jima--one of the worst battles in Marine Corp history. Six thousand eight hundred and twenty-one marines were killed in over 36 days and over 20,000 were wounded. Even so, Cialfi said, “I’m not a hero; the heroes are the veterans who gave their lives for your freedom. The marines did what they had to do and today, nobody can touch America. We fought for your freedom.” He was discharged in 1945. But he said he’ll never forget the marines who were killed in his company. “That brings back so many memories.”
The Latin phrase Semper Fidelis was said by many people who spoke with Cialfi. It’s the Marine Corps motto which means “Always Faithful”. This was needed “as the strength on the battlefield and the supply lines justified the cause,” concluded Commander Grecco.

Correction: The phrase "Semper Fidelis" means "Always Faithful", not "with courage".

Armistice Day
There's Only One Tale -- Except When "They" Changed the Original Name
By Frank Boyle
Republished November 6, 2015
The birth of Veterans Day was November 11, 1919. It used to be called "Armistice Day,” since the Final Peace Treaty between Germany and the Allies -- France, United Sates and Britain -- was signed in a private railroad car in Compiegne (a suburb of Paris) on the 11th month and 11th day at 11:00 a.m. Armistice Day signified the formal end of World War I -- then called the "War to End All Wars.”
Immediately following this formal surrender -- there had been other regional treaties signed stopping the fighting primarily between the Germans and French, U.S. and British ground troops -- were the peace treaties of Versailles, Saint- Germain, Trianon, Neuilly and Sevres.
Interestingly enough, on November 11, 1919, a substantial part of France was still occupied and controlled by German soldiers. World War I was primarily fought through old-fashioned trench warfare, often killing 10,000 soldiers a day. Monthly casualties of 100,000 soldiers on both sides were typical. World War I saw an estimated 10-million soldiers killed and 20 million wounded.
I had two uncles who fought in the trenches, one of whom was gassed by the Germans. The competing generals still used massive ground advances, similar to the tactics used in the Roman Wars under Julius Caesar and in the American Civil War in 1865.
The French had been beaten badly in the earlier years of WWI, and in a prior war with Germany around 1900. The end result was the French demand for extraordinarily harsh treaty conditions, including exorbitant financial retribution that created a serious depression in post-war Germany.
After World War I, many European countries formed the League of Nations. Our United States senators refused to ratify the necessary conditions required to join it. Later we agreed and have been paying roughly 25% of its annual expenses ever since it moved to the United Nations building in Manhattan.
During World War II, when Hitler and his armies reoccupied France and Belgium and controlled Paris in 1942, he demanded the Peace Treaty be signed at the same place -- the same railroad car in a suburb of Paris -- with similar, extraordinarily harsh terms.  
Following the end of the Korean War, Washington, DC politicians decided that Armistice Day should be renamed Veterans Day. In May 1954, the day had been truly a national holiday; there were massive parades, and local, state and federal politicians asked citizens to recognize the date as the time for ending all future wars. Unfortunately, it didn’t keep us out of Vietnam, Desert Storm and the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan Wars.
The Boyle men all fought in harm's way for four generations. In World War I, my dad enlisted and became a petty officer in the United States Navy, serving with Atlantic Patrol on the U.S.S. Minnesota Battleship. It was torpedoed by German U Boat submarines but crawled back to Norfolk. Dad had a key role in this battle that was the first war to end all wars.
I enlisted in 1943 in United States Army Air Corps and was told I’d be a fighter pilot. But they lied -- they really needed gunners on bombers. I ended up as a Belly Ball Turret Gunner on a B17 Flying Fortress -- 35 missions out of England over Germany. We conducted daylight bombing with no fighter plane cover. British RAF had suffered severe 35 percent losses for the 18 months before we did the same. Our 8th Air Force had 37 percent losses, the highest of all military units in WWII.
When our top Air Corps Generals in charge of combat strategy were questioned on why we conducted daylight bombings without fighter plane cover, their answer was “our bombers can fly as fast as Luftwaffe Fighter Planes." Actually, our B17 could do 230 MPH flat out -- the slowest German fighter plane went 350 MPH -- and most cruised at 400 MPH. That's before they hit us with jet fighters in late 1944.
My younger brother enlisted in the Infantry. He went successfully through Officer’s Candidate School, applied for Jump School and eventually became a combat paratrooper in the Korean War. You'll recall our excuse for going to war there was the premise that the North Korea Military shot up and captured a U.S. destroyer that had been patrolling in the Tonkin Bay. I think of my brother parachuting in their frozen mountains with the Chinese firing at him and his colleagues with their machine guns.
Our politicians and the Pentagon said the U.S.A. had to fight there to stop North Korea, Russia, and Red Chinese from attacking our West Coast, another war to end all wars.
My brother came through it all and was buried in the Pacific Military Cemetery in Honolulu, high up in the hills overlooking Pearl Harbor.
Our nephew returned from his fourth tour in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He enlisted to help his country's cause. The Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan wars went on for over 10 years. WWI and WWII were each over in four years. Our nephew was an army ranger -- like a Navy Seal -- which is the toughest and most dangerous kind of combat. And what do we as a country have to show for it?
Now Veterans Day is just a blip on our calendar. The day has lost the meaning of all the emotions of World War I and II veterans. It became passé after the Korean War. The tragedy was that virtually no Korean U.S. War veteran or Vietnam veteran received even a small percentage of the attention and recognition for sacrifices they made, as we who served in WWI and II received when we came home from fighting.
If you could get inside the heads of all veterans who were personally getting their butts shot off and ask them why they volunteered for such action, they'd give you two answers: 
First, they felt it was their job to fight for their red, white and blue flag.

Second, they wanted to have the privilege to vote. 
When reportedly 50 percent of our adults refuse to vote in Federal and State elections, it makes us wonder what Veterans Day really means to today's generation of voters.
Staff Sgt. Frank Boyle # 11128350
Aerial Gunnery Instructor
US Army Air Corps

North Castle American Legion Post 1097
Veterans Day Memorial Service
35 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY

November 11, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.
Light refreshments immediately following

Students Extend Invitation to Vets, Servicemen and Women  

April 21, 2015
The Byram Hills Students Serving Soldiers Club will host a Military Appreciation Day at 3:15 p.m. on Friday May 1. All local veterans and current servicemen and women are invited to attend this event at Byram Hills High School. The short ceremony will honor servicemen and women from the past and present.

The students would like to say thank you to those who have and are still serving our country. The club’s mission is to raise awareness of the sacrifices servicemen and women make.

During the year, the club members send care packages and letters to war zones in support of our troops. They also raise money to support the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers as well as  the families of our fallen soldiers.

The ceremony will begin prior to the start of the Byram Hills High School’s athletic events. Following a short speech, there will be a presentation of our Country's Colors by a military Color Guard. Everyone is invited to stay and enjoy the many sport events that will take place that afternoon at the High School, located at 12 Tripp Lane, Armonk.

Veterans Day Ceremony at the American Legion

November 11, 2014

At the opening of the Veterans Day ceremony at North Castle’s American Legion 1097 the young men and women of the Color Guard of the Col. Johnnie Pantanelli presented the colors.

“Grant us the grace to remember with love and reference our gallant and honored Veterans. Grant peace and eternal rest to those who have gone before us,” said Chaplain Vincent Grecco, as part of the opening prayer.

“World War I known as the “Great War” that officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed in Versailles, France on June 28, 1919,” said Patrick Burke, former Post 1097 Commander. “However fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice or temporary succession of hostilities between the allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. For that reason November 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of all wars.”

The flags were hoisted briefly and lowered ceremoniously by veteran Harry Tompkins.

“November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first celebration of Armistice Day,” said Burke.

President Wilson’s speech was read, ‘To us in America, the reflections to Armistice Day will be filled will solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing for which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations….’

“The original concept of the celebration was a day observed with parades, public meeting and a brief suspension of business at the 11th hour,” said Burke. Although the latter is no longer conducted today.

A flag burning ceremony was performed by the Armonk Boy Scouts. When a flag’s condition is no longer a fitting emblem for display, the flags are traditionally burned with dignity and respect.

The ceremony was closed with a blessing given to all armed services personnel missing in action (MIA) and prisoners of war (POW), “May they never be forgotten.”

American Legion Shows Signs of Respect for Our Fallen Soldiers

Updated June 13, 2014
The American Legion Post 1097 held a Memorial Day service on May 31, 2014. The traditional ceremony was dedicated to all those who gave their lives serving for the safety and freedom of this country.

The ceremony was opened by Colonel Johnnie Pantanelli, Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol, with the Posting of the Colors and Salute, followed by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Sheila Smith Drapeau, who was accompanied by the Byram Hills High School Band. Next the Pledge of the Allegiance was read by Eagle Scout Anthony Gizzi. The invocation prayer was presented by the Reverend Jeffrey Galens of the Church of St. Patrick in Armonk.

In attendance were the legionaries, citizens, representatives from the Town Board of the Town of North Castle, the State Assembly, the State Senate, the State Legislation, the Boy Scouts and the Byram Hills Board of Education. Ninety-three-year old WWII veteran Alfred Ciafli spoke a few words about his grueling service in the WWII battles where he fought in Roi-Namur, Tinian, Saipan, and Iwo Jima.

The welcome dedication speech was presented by the American Legion Post 1097 Commander Patrick Burke. Marine Burke said over two hundred flags are placed and maintained yearly on North Castle graves of soldiers dating back to the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.

The wreath-laying of two wreaths in front of the American Legion veterans memorials were placed by Commander Don Dehmer and Veteran Tony Futia. A three-gun salute was executed by American Legion members Harry Tompkins and Bud Schultz.

The service was closed with Father Galens’ words in a benediction prayer for those who are serving in the armed services to be kept safe, to heal those wounded, to bring comfort to their loved ones and to never forget those who sacrificed.

“To the left, halt, forward, left face…” and the Colors were retired.

Herman Geist

Herman Geist of Armonk is Honored at Pilsen’s Liberation Festival 
by Louise T. Gantress

May 24, 2014
June 6, 1944, seventy years ago, is the day now referred to as D-Day, when the 38th Infantry Regiment, Second Infantry Division landed on the beaches of Normandy. With six months of continuous combat, and in the dead of winter, they were engaged in the Battle of the Bulge. It was then that a nineteen year old newly minted lieutenant, Herman Geist, joined fresh from Officers Candidate School. “On the first day my sergeant slammed me into the snow. ‘Look at that black smoke,’ he said. ‘They’re shooting at you.’”

It was almost a year later, in 1945, that the Second Division reached Bohemia and liberated Pilsen, in the Czech Republic, southwest of Prague, from Nazi occupation. By then they had been merged into General George Patton’s 16th Armored Division of the Third Army. “The group had been in continuous combat. My platoon was the first in (action) because I was young and they said I needed the experience,” Mr. Geist said, and then added, “There were scattered battles but the Germans were more afraid of the Soviets. We accepted the surrender of the 11th Panzer Division. They were Hitler’s elite corps. The surrender took twenty-four hours because we had to separate them, fifty yards apart.”

Pilsen’s annual Liberation Festival, held in May, began in 1990 after the Iron Curtain ceased to exist. After liberating Pilsen, the Third Army was re-deployed to invade Japan. The communists took over and tried to revise history by eliminating all memory of the Third Army. This year, three members of his unit attended: in addition to Herman Geist, Lieutenant Robert Gilbert of Mississippi, now 99, and Sergeant James Duncan of New Mexico were present.

Events over the May 2 to 6 festival included a Convoy of Liberty from Sukova Street to Republic Square. Veterans and members of the public were able to share memories. “I signed autographs for two and a half hours!” Mr. Geist said. General Patton’s grandson, George Patton Waters, and his son, Gordy Patton Waters, were there for the opening of the Patton Memorial Pilsen.

During one program Mr. Geist was sitting in the audience when he was tapped on the shoulder and told to get on the dais. He never expected to receive a medal. Accepting it he said, “Thank you, Pilsen. I accept this award on behalf of all soldiers who served with me in 1945 and aren’t here today.”

Military Heroes Recognized by North Castle

Updated June 13, 2014
North Castle presented a proclamation on March 26, 2014 expressing thanks to “the men and women from the Town of North Castle who served in the Armed Forces, some paying the ultimate price, have been vital in maintaining the freedoms and way of life enjoyed by our citizens.”

Originally, the Purple Heart was granted as a badge of military merit by General George Washington in 1782. In 1932, the Purple Heart was redesigned and renamed by General Douglas MacArthur. There are two ways for military personnel to receive a Purple Heart: either by a combat wound or if killed by enemy fire. Those next of kin are awarded the Purple Heart for those killed in action.

“As a veteran, we are the survivors; the real heroes are the ones that didn’t come back. Their missions are over; our mission continues and that is to make sure they are not forgotten,” says Harry Tompkins, a representative of Armonk’s American Legion Post 1097. Tompkins says, “I'd like to salute my brothers and sisters who have been honored with a Purple Heart which is a serious and solemn award. We thank the veterans for their sacrifices for our country. We give them our admiration and thanks, and thanks to North Castle for recognizing them for their heroism and service.”  Eugene Lang recollects 1968 when he was in the First Cavalry which helped the Marines out of  Cason, Vietnam. They were taking rounds from Laos, when they were in the trenches about four kilometers from the border. There were between 100 to 150 artillery rounds coming when Lang was at the bottom of a hill where they were expecting a major attack. They decided to set up a 181-meter mortar position and Lang was assigned to the top of the hill to man a gun. It took him about an hour and a half to go 150 meters because the incoming rounds forced him to serpentine from bunker to bunker. Some of the bunkers had already taken direct hits and were blown up. “I finally made it to the top of the hill, and was ready to man the gun. More incoming rounds were coming in and I hit the ground and started crawling. I could feel the ground was shaking all around me. All of a sudden, I felt a hit in the leg. I moved to the hole and said to one of the guys, ‘I think I’m hit, I’ve got a burning sensation and I feel blood running down my leg.’” They pulled him in and called the medic. The medic wrapped him up and they carried him down the hill. He was then flown out to the marine base Dong Ha on the DMZ. “They dropped me off from the helicopter and the platoon doctor looked at my leg. The doctor asked him, ‘How well can you take pain?’ ‘Not long,’” said Lang.  The doctor took out the sharpanal, but to this day, Lang says there is still a piece in there. With a hole in his leg, he was given his M16 back and rejoined his unit in the field.

Forty-four years later, Lang says his military records were lost. For 22 years it couldn’t be proven that he was ever even in Vietnam. That was until Senator Charles Schumer came to Lang’s house to issue him a Purple Heart.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 21, was formed in 1932 and is still located in Montrose, NY. The organization represents Westchester County and its mission is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat-wounded veterans. They also promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiative, and most importantly, provide services to all veterans and their families, says Lang.

The North Castle Town Board issued a proclamation of a Military Order of a Purple Heart. Lang says he is grateful to North Castle. The Military Order of Purple Heart cares for veterans, collects donations of clothing, pays for veterans’ haircuts, and are advocates for shelter of veterans. “Don’t turn your back on veterans, take care of them,” says Lang. “Freedom is not free, somebody paid for it dearly.”

The veterans are important to us, we have to take care of them. They have great needs and our government is forgetting our veterans. It’s a serious problem, says Tony Futia who was stationed on a submarine during the Korean War. Futia’s late wife, Marty Futia, spent a lot of time at Montrose bringing food and clothing to the veterans.

Alfred Cialfi, a 93-year old WW II veteran, who now lives in Banksville, was in four battles in the Pacific, including Roi-Namur, Tinian, Saipan and Iwo Jima, which was one of the worst battles in Marine Corp history. Six thousand eight hundred and twenty-one marines were killed in over 36 days and over 20,000 were wounded. Cialfi thanks God he made it through the war and is still happy to be here. When Cialfi lectures at schools about WW II, students tell him he is a hero, he says, ‘I’m not a hero. The heroes are the veterans who gave their lives for your freedom.” Cialfi was wounded but declined the Purple Heart. Of the 200 men in his company, only 24 came home. “He wasn’t in the right frame of mind at that time to be singled out as a hero,” says his daughter-in-law.

Supervisor Mike Schiliro says, “In our lives we hear so much about heroic efforts in sports, and in my eyes you are heroes. You were fighting for us, for our shores and our freedom, and I thank you.” March 26, 2014 has been officially designated as North Castle’s to remember and recognize veterans who are recipients of the Purple Heart medal.

American Legion Veterans Day Ceremony
November 11, 2014

At the opening of the Veterans Day ceremony at North Castle’s American Legion 1097, the young men and women of the Color Guard of the Col. Johnnie Pantanelli presented the colors.

“Grant us the grace to remember with love and reference our gallant and honored Veterans. Grant peace and eternal rest to those who have gone before us,” said Chaplain Vincent Grecco, as part of the opening prayer.

“World War I known as the “Great War” that officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed in Versailles, France on June 28, 1919,” said Patrick Burke, former Post 1097 Commander. “However fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice or temporary succession of hostilities between the allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. For that reason November 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of all wars.”

The flags were hoisted briefly and lowered ceremoniously by veteran Harry Tompkins.

“November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first celebration of Armistice Day”, said Burke.

President Wilson’s speech was read:

‘To us in America, the reflections to Armistice Day will be filled will solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing for which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations….’

“The original concept of the celebration was a day observed with parades, public meetings, and a brief suspension of business at the 11th hour,” added Burke. Although the latter is no longer conducted today.

A flag burning ceremony was performed by the Armonk Boy Scouts. When a flag’s condition is no longer a fitting emblem for display the flags are traditionally burned with dignity and respect.

The ceremony was closed with a blessing given to all armed services personnel missing in action (MIA) and prisoners of war (POW). “May they never be forgotten.”

Memorial Day Ceremony at the American Legion

May 20, 2014
On May 31, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the American Legion will honor our fallen service men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in a ceremony and community event at the American Legion Hall Post 1097 at 35 Bedford Road in Armonk, NY.

There will be a formal ceremony to honor our fallen heroes on the front lawn of the American Legion building from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. followed by a community celebration to honor our heroes' sacrifice, which will be held in the picnic area behind the American Legion until 2:00 p.m.

The featured events include; face painting and an inflatable balloon for children, music, food, police and fire vehicle displays and the company of the good people of Armonk

All are welcomed to participate.  If you are a Vet, please wear any military regalia you feel comfortable wearing, for example a cover, blouse, or jacket. If you are currently serving our great nation, wear your full uniform. The purpose is to show and share with the community the time period in which you served.
Please join us for this event. This year there will be no parade.


When you see someone in a uniform
Someone who serves us all,
Doing military duty,
Answering our country's call,
Take a moment to thank them
For protecting what we hold dear;
Tell them you are proud of them;
Make it very clear.
Just tap them on the shoulder,
Give a smile, and say,
"Thanks for what you are doing to keep us safe in the USA!

A Memorial Day Salute

Each year in the U.S. of A.
We have a Memorial Day:
Remembrance for all
Who answered the call
By placing their lives in harm's way.

This day should not pass with regret,
We owe an unplayable debt
To all the bravehearted,
Those valiant departed,
Whose sacrifice we'll not forget.

For freedom their lives served
as shields,

Advancing in war's ravaged wealds
'gainst tyranny's fist
they made the resist,
triumphant on battle-torn fields.

In skies, under seas or on land,
Whatever the point of command,
They stormed ev'ry hell
Where heroes's blood fell
'til God gave them rest by his hand.

In shadows of Old Glory's wave
We cherish the mem'ries we save
Of those who stand tall
In Patriot's Hall--
By Freedom we salute The Brave!

Memorial Day Honors Fallen Soldiers

May 31, 2013
On a hot afternoon on the "official" Memorial Day, May 30, 2013, civic and local community organizations paraded down Main Street, Armonk. Patrick Burke, commander of the American Legion Post 1097, led the Memorial Day service. Neighbors gathered to honor the military service men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and whom we shall never forget.

The Memorial Day invocation was led by the American Legion Chaplain Vincent Grecco, "Teach us to honor them by ever cherishing them by ideals for which they fought. Keep us steadfast in the cause of human rights and of the liberties of law and order. Give us power to see and the will to do the right. Grant that the American Legion may preserve the high ideals for which our comrades have died. May the merciful blessing rest upon those they left behind, keep us forever firm and righteousness, humble of heart and unselfishness in purpose. Amen." Please feel free to watch the video here.

The American Legion Celebrated its 94th Birthday

April 14, 2013
The American Legion Post 1097 entertained dozens of veterans and guests with a celebratory dinner for the American Legion's 94th birthday. The social gathering was a lighthearted evening for old friends and new faces. A delicious meal was served at the event: pasta, rice, strings beans and a variety of prepared meats; tasty sausages with onions and peppers; sweet ham and a delicious Chicken Francese. Chef Tony Cicia and a group of sous chefs prepared the savory feast.

The American Legion serves members who are veterans who have honorably served our country, as well as those who are currently on active duty, said Legion Commander Patrick Burke. Commander Burke was presented with a plaque for his outstanding leadership and dedication to the North Castle Post 1097 from 2011 to 2013.

In the Spirit of Democracy, the American Legion Post 1097 Honors the Men and Women Who Served in the Armed Forces

November 11, 2013
The American Legion Post 1097 honored veterans who served in the armed forces at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of November 2013, in Armonk, New York. The distinguished young men and women of the Color Guard of the Col. Johnnie Pantanelli Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol presented the colors.

Father Jeffrey Galens from the Church of St. Patrick in Armonk led a prayer in tribute to  our veterans who "have served for the security and freedom of our nation and contributed to the common good and the maintenance of peace. May they experience our gratitude for their service."

Veterans Patrick Burke and Harry Tompkins raised the flag and led the ceremony in saluting the United States flag from the 3rd battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, which was flown over the operating base in Afghanistan during "Operation Freedom.”

A closing prayer was delivered to preserve the safety of all of the men and women of our military who are actively serving, especially those in harm’s way.

The young men from the Armonk Boy Scouts played an important role in the tradition of the flag burning ceremony. Under the guidance of Eagle Scout Anthony Squillante, several tattered and worn flags were retired and burned as a symbol that the flags be forever more with the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Watch the video here.

North Castle Veterans Day
Veterans Day Thank You to
United States Armed Forces

November 11, 2012
Veterans, family members and civilians attended the Veterans Day observance at the North Castle American Legion Post 1097.

The patriotic ceremony was lead by Post Commander Corporal Patrick Burke. Corporal Burke's remarked, "Veterans Day honors all who have served in the U.S. military. Memorial Day is designated as a day of remembrance for those in our military who died while defending this great nation during time of war.

And while we are here to honor all of those great men and women today, there is another special group that we don't hear enough about. These are the veterans who have died for this country, long after they stopped wearing their military uniforms. While their service obligations may have expired, their love of country endured.

On September 12 of this year - 11 years and one day after the worst terrorist attack ever inflicted on American soil -- two Navy SEAL veterans made the Supreme Sacrifice while protecting their fellow American who were under attack at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods knew the meaning of service. In an open letter to Glen Doherty, SEAL team 3 Comrade Brandon Webb wrote in The New York Times:
"I still can't believe you punched out early on me, but glad to hear from the guys that you fought like a hero - no surprise there… You should know, your efforts resulted in the rescue of over 20 Department of State personnel. They are alive today because of yours and Ty's heroic action."

Tyrone Woods was described by his mother as a "stellar SEAL who thrived on adrenaline, excitement and danger."

In addition to his grieving parents, Ty is survived by his wife, an infant daughter, two teenage sons and countless friends.

And it's important to remember not only the price that is paid by so many veterans to maintain our freedom - but the price paid by their heartbroken families as well.

Journalist Abigail Pesta, who is the sister of Glen Doherty, wrote, "Today we held a funeral in his hometown of Winchester, Massachusetts. During the procession from the funeral home to the church, the streets were lined with hundreds of people. Schools were let out; there were bands playing… People were holding signs. We have seen such a show of support - from both the town that we grew up in and the nation that we live in. We feel so much love."

Scenes similar to what occurred in Winchester, Massachusetts have taken place in many other cities and towns across America. We revere these heroes because they revered us - their families, their neighbors, their fellow citizens. A country is only as good as the people in it. And a land that could produce such heroes is truly worth serving.

We should all endeavor to serve our veterans as well as they have served their nation. We should remember that Every Day is Veterans Day.

We must honor all of their families and not just with Blue and Gold Star Banners, but with compassionate hearts. PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and life-altering war wounds not only affect the veteran, but can also take an enormous toll on the family as well.

Sometimes all that is needed is a simple 'thank you' directed at the veteran or the family member for his or her sacrifice.

We must heed the words of our first commander-in-Chief, General George Washington who said in 1798, "The willingness with which our young people will fight in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country."

Born of their extraordinary accomplishments comes our extraordinary debt. And for those accomplishments and for their dedication, we must always be grateful.

God Bless you all for being here, God bless our veterans and Gods bless America."

Memorial Day 2011

Armonk resident Major General Vito J. Castellano spoke at the Memorial Day celebrations, reminding those present that “Memorial Day is the unofficial start of Summer but more importantly it is a time for us to pause and remember all those who over the last two centuries have paid the price to give us the freedom we enjoy today.” After all, there are still American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan—with casualties reaching 6,000—among other locations.  Castellano’s speech urged that we pause to send our thoughts and prayers out to those still serving, as well as honor those who fell in duty.  
Memorial Day is also about honoring our veterans, and there were several present for the festivities, including Colonel Jonnie Pantaneki.  Colonel Pantaneki served in the Marine Corps from 1944-45.  However, when the war ended, women Marines were asked to step down, and so Pantaneki joined civil air control where she has been working for sixty-seven years, “teaching young people about airplane flying and leadership and guidance” because “these are our leaders of tomorrow, and we have to help them and give them a little push and encourage them to be our leaders.”

Pantaneki says, "We meet Armonk’s American Legion on Wednesday nights, from seven to eight, and then from eight to nine thirty we’re over at St. Steven’s Church.  Our little cadets are from twelve years up, and our adults are from eighteen and up.