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Town of Huntington, NY - News Details

6/2/2022 - Town of Huntington Lays Wreaths at Veterans Monuments on Veterans Plaza for Memorial Day

The Town of Huntington honored fallen American servicemembers on Veterans Plaza at Huntington Town Hall, Sunday, May 29, in commemoration of Memorial Day. 


Joining Supervisor Ed Smyth from the Town of Huntington at the ceremony were Councilmembers Eugene Cook, Joan Cergol, Dr. Dave Bennardo and Sal Ferro; Town Clerk Andrew Raia; Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman; Highway Superintendent Andre Sorrentino; Chairman Bill Ober and members of the Veterans Advisory Board. Director of Human Services Carmen Kasper, Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco, Director of General Services Bill Musto, Director of Public Safety Joe Cirigliano, and Asian American Task Force members Michelle McCarthy, Chief of Staff to Supervisor Smyth, and Aamir Sultan were also in attendance.


Senator Mario Mattera and Assemblyman Steve Stern represented New York State at the ceremony. Legislator Stephanie Bontempi represented Suffolk County.


Gold Star Mother Connie Mangano participated in the ceremony; Ms. Mangano's son Sgt Anthony L. Mangano made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2008.


Veterans organizations, led by their Commanders, participated in the ceremony: Cmdr. John Carvajal of Elwood/Commack VFW #9263; Cmdr. Gary Steinmueller with Nathan Hale VFW #1469; Cmdr. Donna Boyle with Greenlawn American Legion #1244; Cmdr. Andrew Brady with Huntington American Legion #360; Cmdr. William McKenna with Northport American Legion #694; Cmdr. Bruce Brenner with the Combat Infantrymen’s Association; Cmdr. Harry Arlin with Jewish War Veterans #488; Cmdt. John Joseph with the Marine Corps League Huntington Det #792; Cmdr. Phil Rhoades with the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 19; Vietnam Veterans of America; and Women Veterans.


The ceremony was emceed by Veterans Advisory Board Chairman Bill Ober. Wreaths were placed to honor fallen service members from World War I; World War II; the Korean War; Vietnam War; Women Veterans; and the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. A rifle salute was executed by Dominic Cutalo, Malia Bundt, Michael Rodden, and John Scnhapp from Elwood/Commack VFW #9263. Tom Butterfield played Taps on the trumpet; piper John Martin from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers played Amazing Grace. Huntington Fire Department Chief Scott Dodge, Halesite Fire Department Chief Dom Spada and volunteer firefighters displayed the American flag from atop their fire trucks. Veterans Color Guards presented the colors. Rabbi Yakov Saacks from The Chai Center in Dix Hills delivered the invocation and benediction. The Northport High School Tour Choir, directed by Dana Warren, performed patriotic music. Cub Scout Troop 406, led by Cubmaster Scott Wallick, helped distribute programs for the ceremony. Refreshment were donated by Dunkin’ Donuts on New York Avenue in Huntington; Buttercooky Bakery in Huntington; and House of Bagels in Dix Hills.


The ceremony honored World War II “Ghost Army” soldiers of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. This top-secret unit of 1,100 artists, designers and sound engineers accomplished a unique mission by staging elaborate ruses to divert the enemy. The “Ghost Army” used inflatable tanks and trucks, sound effects, phony radio transmissions and other creative ruses to deceive Nazi troops into believing Allied forces were nearby, which gave American and Allied  troops an advantage elsewhere; they were responsible for saving an estimated 30,000 lives. The mission remained top-secret for decades after the end of World War II. It was only declassified in the late 1990s.


Three "Ghost Army" soldiers were Town of Huntington residents or had connections to the Town of Huntington:


  • Joseph Mack enlisted in the U.S. Army with his profession reported as "decorators and window dressers” but Corporal Mack was a member of the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion, of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops.
  • Robert Costantino Petrucci was a Jeep driver on paper but due to his artistic and creative abilities, he served in the Ghost Army, 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion, of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. Petrucci’s daughter Cynthia Sourbeck and son Michael Petrucci attended the ceremony with their families;
  • George Virgil Rittenhouse was a 1st Lieutenant and Platoon Commander in the 603rd Camouflage Battalion, of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. He was twenty-five when the Ghost Army was sent to guard five Displaced Person's Camps in Germany. Rittenhouse’s daughters Laura Rittenhouse Burke and Donna Rittenhouse, as well as son John Rittenhouse joined the ceremony with their families.


Guests included Lou Pagano and Linda Guido from the Town's Vietnam KIA Memorial 50th Anniversary Committee; Huntington Community First Aid Squad President Fiona Witkowski, Chief Dave Kaufman, and members; Dr. Dan Picard and Chris Barth from the Huntington Kiwanis; and Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Vita Scaturro.