GREEN ISLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Green Island Union Free School District and the Legnard-Curtin American Legion Post 927 will award honorary diplomas to five local veterans. The ceremony will also honor 13 Purple Heart recipients.
The ceremony will be at the American Legion Post on November 10 starting at 9 a.m. The diplomas are being awarded to veterans who left school early to join the military. Family members or American Legion members will accept the diplomas on behalf of the veterans.
“Veterans Day is the perfect day to hold this event and recognize these individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice or served their country with distinction,” said Tom Mullins, a Green Island resident who helps to organize the event.
Those being honored with diplomas are:
- Private First Class Joseph C. Gregware, U.S. Army, who was killed in action in 1945. Gregware left Heatly in 1943 and enlisted later that year in the U.S. Army.
- Corporal Robert Keenan, U.S. Army, who was captured by the Germans and held for 301 days before being liberated by U.S. forces. He attended Lansingburgh Schools before leaving to enlist in the military in 1943. After returning from service, he moved to Green Island where he resided for 43 years, passing away in 1989.
- Private First Class Joseph Kucskar, U.S. Army, who died in 1942 while being held as a prisoner of Japanese forces after the Bataan Death March. He attended schools in Connecticut before moving to Watervliet, but did not complete his schooling before enlisting in the military.
- Private Thomas H Sloliker, U.S. Army, who died in a North Korean prison camp in 1951 during the Korean Conflict. He attended Heatly in the fifth grade before going to St. Joseph’s School and ultimately leaving Troy High School without graduating to enlist in the military.
- Private Louis A. Szatalski, U.S. Army, who was killed in action during the invasion of Italy in 1943. He attended Green Island in the 1930s, but left school and enlisted in the National Guard in 1938.
The ceremony will be livestreamed to the students in the Green Island school, as well as the public, starting at 8:45 a.m on Youtube.
Those being honored who earned Purple Hearts and have been inducted into the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor are:
World War I
- Private Thomas Curtin, U.S. Army, killed in action in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in 1918.
- Private Frank Legnard, U.S. Marine Corps, seriously wounded in the Battle of Belleau Wood.
- Private John B, Legnard, U.S. Marine Corps, killed in action in the St. Mihiel Offensive in 1918.
- Private John Murray, U.S. Army, killed in action in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in 1918.
World War II
- Private First Class Joseph C. Gregware, U.S. Army, killed in action in the Rhineland Campaign on in 1945.
- First Lieutenant Anthony Iozzo, U.S. Army, killed in action in the Battle of Hedgerows in 1944.
- Private Joseph Kucksar, U.S. Army, died in Japanese prisoner of war Camp Cabanatuan in 1942.
- Machinist Third Class John P. O’Brien, U.S. Navy, killed after an enemy mine sunk his ship in 1944.
- Private Louis A. Szatalski, U.S. Army, killed in action in the invasion of Italy in 1943.
- Private William E. (Ned) Haggerty, U.S. Army, who received a Purple Heart for wounds he received in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill on April 16, 1953 and a second Purple Heart for wounds he received on July 4, 1953, also at Pork Chop Hill.
- Private William W. Kelly, U.S. Army, killed in action in 1952 defending Hill 266.
- Private James J. Neaton, U.S. Army, killed in action in 1950 during an operation to slow the advanced of North Korean forces.
- Private Thomas H. Stoliker, U.S. Army, died from hypothermia and malnutrition as a prisoner of war in a North Korean POW camp in 1951.
The Green Island Union Free School District has been working with the American Legion for the past three years to present diplomas to those who left school to fight in the military. So far, 29 veterans have received honorary diplomas.