By Peter Sloggatt
The families of armed service members from Suffolk killed in the line of duty were honored at this year’s Veterans Appreciation Breakfast held earlier this week at The Larkfield. More than 200 veterans, representatives of local veterans organizations and local elected officials attended the breakfast, an annual event put together by Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport).
This year’s event was dedicated to Gold Star families who have lost a son or daughter in active service of the military during hostilities. Representatives of five such families were guests at the breakfast and received proclamations from the legislature.
“There were over 200 veterans, members of veterans organizations and elected officials in the room. It was powerful and emotional to see them all give a long round of applause to honor their service and sacrifice,” Spencer said.
Among them were local families of Army Sgt. Anthony Mangano, of Greenlawn, who was killed in action outside Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2008, and Marine Cpl. Christopher Scherer, of Northport, who was killed by a sniper in Al Anber, Iraq in 2007. Families of service members killed in action from elsewhere in Suffolk were also present. They included family of Marine Cpl. Jerome D. Ventura, Marine Cpl. Keith A. Miller, and Navy Seal Veteran Kenneth J. Butcher
“There’s nothing more poignant than to personally thank those who served to defend our freedoms,” Spencer said. “In a room of more than 200 Suffolk County veterans, we recognized their service, and, for the Gold Star Families, we recognized the ultimate sacrifice that each of them paid.
This is the fifth year Spencer’s office has organized the breakfast as a lead-up to Memorial Day. He expressed gratitude to Terry and George Mountanos, owners of The Larkfield, who underwrite the full cost of putting on the breakfast every year.