VETERANS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
The Smithtown Library's Long Island Room is collecting personal accounts of Smithtown veterans to preserve a permanent record of their military service experience. Library staff will conduct, record, and make the interviews available to the public through the Long Island Room’s website. They will also forward a copy of each interview to the Library of Congress for inclusion in their national Veterans History Project. Veterans of all ages are welcome to participate.
The personal accounts of those who have chosen to share their experiences through the Long Island Room's Veterans Oral History Project encompass a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to biographical information, entrance into military service, wartime/ peacetime service experiences, separation from the military, post-service life, and reflections upon the impact of serving in the U.S. military.
Thanks to all of our Veterans Oral History Project participants for your service and your willingness to share your experiences.
A lifelong Smithtown resident, James "Jim" Gouras enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1944 at the age of 17. He served actively from April 1945 through December 1946 in the 221st Military Police. During his time in the military, Mr. Gouras participated in the occupation of mainland Japan. He assisted with the creation of housing units in Sasebo, Japan.
For his service he received the Army of Occupation Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. After completing his military service, Mr. Gouras entered the family furrier business. Mr. Gouras is an active member in the local chapters of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Mr. Gouras' oral history interview was recorded in The Smithtown Library's Long Island Room on July 6, 2017.
Born in 1925 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Stephen Kovach enlisted in the U.S. Navy after he completed high school. He served from 1943-1946. During WWII he was a Radarman, assigned to the destroyer escort ship U.S.S. Joseph E. Campbell. For his service he received the American Campaign, European African Middle Eastern Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, and Occupation Service medals.
After his naval service Mr. Kovach played professional baseball, spending many years as a catcher in the minor leagues. While in the minors, he caught future New York Yankees pitching legends Bob Turley and Don Larsen.
Mr. Kovach eventually moved to Commack in 1959 and worked for various aerospace companies on Long Island, including Grumman.
Mr. Kovach's interview was recorded at his home in Commack on December 3, 2018.
Born in 1925 in Syosset, New York, George Allison enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard at the age of 17. Mr. Allison served from 1943-1946. During WWII he was a Motor Machinist 3rd class and sailed on the ships Pennsylvania and LST-791. Aboard the LST-791, Allison was involved in the South Pacific campaign and part of the Battle of Okinawa. His military service awards include four Bronze Stars.
Following his service, Mr. Allison worked with his father, caring for hounds used by the Meadow Brook Hounds Hunt Club. After that he worked at Republic Aviation Corporation, and later as a police officer in Laurel Hollow.
Mr. Allison’s interview was recorded at the Smithtown Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in Smithtown on April 30, 2019.
A first generation American, Hong Loy was born in 1922 in Bristol, Connecticut. His parents immigrated from China to the United States in the early 1900s. Mr. Loy grew up in New York City and was later recruited to join the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.), the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), during World War II.
Due in part to his fluency in Chinese, Mr. Loy was stationed with the O.S.S. in China during the war. His life and stories, including his experiences during World War II, are chronicled in his 2006 memoir titled “The Chinese Laundry”. Mr. Loy moved to Commack in the early 1970s.
Although Mr. Loy was unable to participate in a sit-down oral history with library staff, he was able to provide us with several images from his service. In addition, an excerpt of Mr. Loy’s book is available to read below.
The images and an excerpt of “The Chinese Laundry” below illustrate Mr. Loy’s life and service in the O.S.S. while stationed at a military base in Changting, Fujian province, China during World War II. Click on an image to enlarge. Images courtesy of Hong Loy. “The Chinese Laundry” courtesy of Dorrance Publishing Inc.
Born in 1929 and raised in Brooklyn, Seymour "Sy" Lederman enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of just 15, serving from 1944-1948. During WWII he was assigned to the 14th Tank Battalion that was involved in some of the most historic battles and events that occurred in the European campaign including the Battle of the Bulge, Battle of Bastogne, Battle of Remagen, and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. For his service, Corporal Lederman received many medals and awards, including the Purple Heart.
From injuries he sustained during the war, after his military service, Mr. Lederman began to have vision problems and eventually lost his eyesight. In 1963 he obtained guide dog services through the Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation, and began working for the organization as a lecturer and trainer. Mr. Lederman eventually moved to Smithtown in the 1970s.
Mr. Lederman’s interview was recorded at his home in Smithtown on May 13, 2019.
Most of the images below illustrate Mr. Lederman’s service in the U.S. Army. Click on an image to enlarge. Images courtesy of Seymour Lederman.
Born in 1928 and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, Henry Carattini enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. He served from 1945-1946. During World War II, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Puget Sound (CVE-113), an escort aircraft carrier, out of the Pacific fleet. Mr. Carattini worked as a catapult and equipment operator helping to launch aircrafts from the ship.
Seaman Carattini was part of the crew that commissioned the ship in 1945 and also de-commissioned it in 1946. For his service, Mr. Carattini received the Victory Medal, American Theater Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Medal, and reached the rank of Seaman First Class.
Following the war, Mr. Carattini went back to school to learn carpentry, worked as a safecracker, and eventually worked for many years at St. John’s University. Mr. Carattini moved to Smithtown in the early 1960s.
Mr. Carattini’s interview was recorded at the Smithtown Library on July 2, 2019.
Most of the images below illustrate Mr. Carattini’s military service in the U.S. Navy. Click on an image to enlarge. Images courtesy of Henry Carattini.
Michael “Mickey” Tangel was born in Brooklyn in 1947 and raised in Hollis, Queens. He later moved with his family to Selden. Mr. Tangel graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 1970 and was starting his teaching career in the Middle Country School District when his number was selected in the Vietnam War draft lottery. Mr. Tangel served from 1971 to 1972.
Mr. Tangel was stationed in the port cities around Cam Ranh Bay and Qui Nhon, Vietnam. One of the highlights of his service was helping fellow soldiers study for their High School Equivalency Diplomas.Tangel made the rank of Specialist 4 and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, as well as the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
After his service, Mr. Tangel returned to the Middle Country Central School District and taught for 35 years. Mr. Tangel is an active member of the Vietnam Veterans of America and is also an avid baseball fan. He plays Old Time Baseball at various fields on Long Island.
Mr. Tangel’s interview was recorded at the Smithtown Library on July 17, 2019.
The images below illustrate Michael Tangel's military service and his involvement in various events as veteran of the Vietnam War. Click on an image to enlarge. Images courtesy of Michael Tangel.
Nicolo (Nicholas) Muratore was born in Brooklyn in 1931. When he was about 7 years old his family moved to Ozone Park, Queens. Mr. Muratore enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 19, shortly after starting college. He served from 1951 to 1955 and was trained to work as a radio mechanic. During the Korean War, Mr. Muratore was stationed at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa for 9 months. While there he worked on B-29 bombers in need of repair.
After completing his service in the Air Force, Mr. Muratore utilized benefits from the GI Bill to return to college and pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. For 31 years he taught American history and later, Sociology at Hicksville High School. In addition, he taught at Suffolk County Community College for 33 years as an adjunct professor of Sociology. He is appreciative that he was able to take advantage of the GI Bill to fund his education and hopes other veterans do the same.
Mr. Muratore’s interview was recorded at the Smithtown Library on December 5, 2019.
The images below illustrate Mr. Muratore's service with the U.S. Air Force. Click on an image to enlarge. Images courtesy of Nicholas Muratore.