Military vets feted in New Hyde Park for lives spent in the service of others

Veterans receive the Colonel E. David Woycik Jr., Esq. and Staff Sgt. Sam Cila Outstanding Service Awards.

Military veteran holding a medal
New Hyde Park, New York

At 100, James Uvena of Huntington recalled Thursday the moment his Army division forged into Europe after the Normandy invasion on D-Day in 1944 under orders of Gen. George S. Patton.

Driving a Sherman tank during the legendary invasion, Uvena said he was among the soldiers who captured some 70,000 Nazi troops and liberated prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp.

And while Uvena has already received honors for his service — including the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor from the French government for helping to liberate the country from the Nazis — he was feted Thursday in New Hyde Park along with other veterans at the Canine Companions for Independence’s seventh annual Veterans Day Ceremony.

“I happen to be one of the lucky ones that came back after four years of serving overseas,” he told a crowd of about 200 assembled inside The Inn at New Hyde Park. “Just be thankful and I just hope all of you feel the same. Be happy that we’re in a great country, the United States of America.”

Uvena joined five other veterans who have served in conflicts ranging from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom and were recognized Thursday for their continued public service since leaving the armed forces.

They received the Colonel E. David Woycik Jr., Esq. and Staff Sgt. Sam Cila Outstanding Service Awards.

“Veterans, both men and women alike, have sacrificed to preserve our freedom we take for granted,” said Woycik, a Canine Companions board member and a retired military officer. “And all veterans deserve the utmost respect and admiration.”

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