Odell to Accompany Carmel Vet on Honor Flight to D.C.
Carmel’s Antoci Spent 5 Months as a POW
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell will accompany 87-year old Carmel resident Mario Antoci, an Army veteran, as they join approximately 90 other veterans and their guardians on a HV (Hudson Valley) Honor Flight to Washington, DC to visit the World War II Memorial on Saturday, April 20.
The HV Honor Flight is a local chapter of the National Honor Flight Network and encompasses veterans in Putnam, Orange, Ulster, Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess counties.
“I’ve known Mario for years,” said Odell, “but I didn’t know about the Honor Flight Network. When Andy Komonchak, the Executive Director of the Purple Heart Hall of Honor, told me there might be a seat open for another veteran and guardian on the April 20th flight, I knew I wanted to get one of our few remaining WWII veterans get on that plane.”
The Honor Flight Network program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant in the Air Force. After completing 27 years in the service, Morse retired in 1998 knowing he wanted to do something more for the veterans he had cared for during his career. In May of 2004, while Morse was working at a small veteran’s clinic in Springfield, Ohio, the World War II Memorial was unveiled in Washington, DC. For many of the veterans in his care, visiting the WWII Memorial was their greatest and, oftentimes, their last wish. Unfortunately, few could afford to make the trip.
As a result, Morse founded National Honor Flight to raise funds to allow any veteran who wished to make the one-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to view the monument erected in their honor. Guardians wishing to accompany a veteran pay their own way at a cost of approximately $400.
Today, the Honor Flight Network has more than 70 chapters throughout the United States and 2013 marks their ninth year transporting more than 81,000 WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans to the nation’s capitol. It is the second flight that the HV Honor Flight Chapter has sponsored. The April 20 US Airways Charter flight is scheduled to depart Stewart Airport at 10 a.m.
Antoci, who moved to Brewster from the Bronx in 1965, said he enlisted without his parents’ knowledge in 1944. “My older brother Sandy was already in the service, and I knew I wanted to go in, too. So I pushed the draft board a bit and told them I was 18.”
Antoci served from 1944 until 1946 as a member of the 7th Army’s 63rd Infantry Division. His last five months were spent as a prisoner of war in Germany. Antoci has written a journal for his children and grandchildren about his wartime experiences.
The commotion about his upcoming trip is a bit overwhelming for Antoci who said there were six million other people who served in WWII.
“I’m not the only guy,” he said.
But with approximately 1,000 WWII veterans, most of whom are over the age of 85, passing on each day, time is running out. Antoci acknowledged that point as he described his weekly therapy visits to the VA Medical Center in Montrose with his fellow Carmel resident and WWII veteran, Charlie Johansen.
“There used to be 14 of us in the group, but we’re down to about six members now,” Antoci said.
Komonchak said the veterans and guardians will meet early – around 7 a.m. – at the Hawkins Drive Shoprite in Montgomery, NY (see itinerary below) before getting on Stewart-bound buses which will be accompanied by a police escort. At the airport, there will be a presentation held in the baggage claim area before boarding. The group is expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. at 11:15 a.m.
The HV Honor Flight Chapter will sponsor two trips per year.
“The best way to start is to go to your VFW and tell them you are interested in either going or being a guardian,” said Komonchak. “If you go on www.HVHonorFlight.com, there are applications you can download. You have to fill all that out.”
Sometimes, he said, the VFW will sponsor a guardian.
HV Honor Flight Itinerary Saturday, April 20th
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Putnam County Executive
April 16, 2013
Odell Extends Condolences, Prayers to Marathon Attendees
Public Urged to be Vigilant, Share Info
Two terrorist explosions brought an early end to the elite race where more than 23,000 participants were enjoying near perfect running weather on a beautiful spring day. The double bombings that occurred yesterday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people, wounded more than 100 and will change the lives of many forever.
The temperature on September 11, 2001 was also brisk with a cloudless blue sky stretching over Manhattan as two airplanes struck the World Trade Center and the lives of many New Yorkers were forever changed.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell noted the similarities of the two events as she sat in her office.
“The impact of this tragedy reaches far beyond Boston’s city limits,” she said. “Many of our children attend colleges in the Boston area. This impacts us as well. I’m sure I speak for all Putnam residents when I say our hearts, thoughts and prayers are in Boston with everyone who was there.”
Today President Obama declared that all flags will be flown at half-staff on all government buildings and military installations until April 20, “ As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence” that took place in Boston on April 15.
The safety and security of the public is something federal, state, city and town governments take seriously but it is something they can’t do alone. Sharing of information is vital and a point Putnam’s Commissioner of Emergency Services Adam B. Stiebeling and Director of Emergency Management Thomas Lannon, Jr. often make.
“The tragedy in Boston reminds us that we must be ever vigilant,” said Stiebeling. “Those of us in Emergency Services need the help of the public at times like this. So please, be aware of your surroundings and let us know if anything seems out of the ordinary.”
“Whether it is a cowardly terrorist act or a natural disaster like Super Storm Sandy, we must work together and share information,” Lannon said. “Information is for planning, responding to, recovering from or mitigating an event. “
Security around major cities was increased following the Boston bombings and Putnam has taken precautionary safety steps as well. Currently the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is at a heightened awareness level and will be increasing patrols in all large public gathering areas including train stations and platforms.
Odell explained the reason for these precautionary steps.
“Many of our residents commute to Manhattan by rail or car on a daily basis. While we have no expectations of experiencing any event, we will be vigilant and I ask that our residents be vigilant as well.”
Residents can help.
“If you see something, say something. Be observant, if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 845-225-4300 to report your concerns or dial 9-1-1,” said Odell.
Lannon suggests New Yorkers sign up to receive emergency notifications at NY-Alert.
“NY-Alert is an emergency alert notification system that will notify you with important information using any combination of email, text messaging, recorded phone message or fax and is available to you at no cost,” he said.
To sign up for notifications go to www.nyalert.gov. Follow the instructions adding any areas of interest in New York State. You should also go to “Add Routine Notifications” and select specialized areas within Putnam County.
For help signing up, residents can visit the County website at www.putnamcountyny.gov/nyalert.
As you know, County Executive MaryEllen Odell and the Putnam County Legislature, chaired by Richie Othmer, joined with the state and national offices of Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), and with our local veterans to proclaim Putnam New York State’s First Purple Heart County. In keeping with that theme, local veterans and patriots would like to install a monument to Purple Heart recipients in our Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park on Gipsy Trail Road in Kent. The stone was designed on behalf of MOPH and stones like it exist on military bases and in parks and other prominent locations around the country and around the world.
The illustration above is a mock-up of the monument as we plan to configure it.
The Putnam County Joint Veterans Council is responsible for coordinating the project and as a JVC member and Judge Advocate for the Putnam/Westchester Chapter of MOPH, I was authorized to be the Project Coordinator and the clearing-house for the funds.
We will NOT accept municipal funds to pay for this project. We will only accept money freely donated by citizens and organizations by mail or through fundraisers specifically conducted for the purpose.
Attached is a form that should be printed, prepared and signed, and then forwarded to me along with a CHECK made out to “Joint Veterans Council.” Please not make the payment to any individual and do not send cash.
2013 Blue Ribbon Campaign Kick-Off Meet & Greet Breakfast
April 9th, 2013-The Child Advocacy Center of Putnam County (CAC) kicked off their Blue Ribbon Campaign for April’s Child Abuse Prevention month at the TOPS building lobby on the Donald B. Smith campus. During the month and throughout the year, The CAC of Putnam County is dedicated to supporting families and reducing the risk of child abuse and neglect. TheBlue Ribbon Campaign seeks to increase awareness and create positive change in our community. On display was a painting created by Yeny McIntyre-Nalbone, CAC Victim Advocate, showing 233 hands inside a blue ribbon representing the 233 children seen at the Center this past year.
The breakfast was a way to seek support, provide an opportunity for county employees to learn more about our services and encourage EVERYONE to take an active role in preventing child abuse.
In addition, Marla Behler CAC Program Coordinator and Alison Lusardi, CPS Supervisor conducted a free workshop for New York State Mandated Reporters on the Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse.
On April 1st 2013, County Executive MaryEllen Odell & Commissioner Adam B. Stiebling and other county employees welcome the newly appointed Deputy Commissioner Robert A. Lipton at the Putnam County Training & Operations Center (TOPS) Building on the Donald B. Smith Campus.