VETERANS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT 

CALLING ALL VETERANS OF SMITHTOWN…

THE SMITHTOWN LIBRARY WANTS YOU!

The 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 send 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.  If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the project, please call (631)360-2480, x197 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

INTERVIEWS

The following interviews are part of The Smithtown Library's Veterans Oral History Project.  The personal accounts of those who have chosen to share their experiences are presented as a complement to other historical resources.  The views expressed in these interviews are those of the interviewees.

Due to the content of the interview topic, discretion is advised.

 

JAMES GOURAS

Lifelong Smithtown resident, James "Jim" Gouras enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1944 at the age of 17 and served actively from April 1945 through December 1946.  During his time in the military, Mr. Gouras participated in the occupation of mainland 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.  Mr. Gouras still lives in Smithtown and 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.

The photographs below were taken during Mr. Gouras' service in the U.S. Army, mostly while participating in the occupation of mainland Japan, 1945-1946.  Click on an image to enlarge.

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Images courtesy of James Gouras.

 

STEPHEN KOVACH

Born in 1925 and raised in Brooklyn, Stephen Kovach enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school, serving 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.  He currently lives in the same Commack house, with his wife, Pat, of 71 years.

Mr. Kovach's interview was recorded at his home in Commack on December 3, 2018.

Most of the photographs below were taken during Mr. Kovach's service with the U.S. Navy.  Click on an image to enlarge.

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Images courtesy of Stephen Kovach.

 

GEORGE ALLISON

Born in 1925 in Syosset, New York, George Allison enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard immediately after high school, serving 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 4 Bronze Stars.

After World War II Mr. Allison worked for his father in Syosset, at Republic Aviation Corporation, and as a police officer in Laurel Hollow.  A lifelong Long Islander, Mr. Allison currently lives at the Smithtown Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care.

Mr. Allison’s interview was recorded at the Smithtown Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in Smithtown on April 30, 2019.

 

HONG LOY

A first generation American, Hong Loy was born in 1922 in Bristol, Connecticut.  His Chinese parents immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s.  Mr. Loy grew up in New York City; and during World War II, he was recruited to join the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services).  The O.S.S. was a precursor to the C.I.A. (Central Intelligence Agency).  Mr. Loy’s fluency in Chinese led him to be stationed with the O.S.S. in China during the war.  Hong Loy’s incredible 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 1970’s and lives in the same Commack house today with his wife Lillian. 

Mr. Loy was unable to do an official oral history with the library, however, in 2019, he was able to provide us with several images from his World War II service.  Additionally, “The Chinese Laundry” is available at The Smithtown Library and an excerpt of Mr. Loy’s book is available below.

The images and an excerpt of “The Chinese Laundry” below illustrate Hong Loy’s life and service to our country, particularly his time at the O.S.S. base in Changting, Fujian province, China during World War II.  Click on an image to enlarge.

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Images courtesy of Hong Loy. “The Chinese Laundry” courtesy of Dorrance Publishing Inc.

 

SEYMOUR LEDERMAN

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 eye sight.  He began to use the services of a guide dog and has used one every day since 1963.  His passion for guide dogs resulted in a lifelong profession with the Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.  In the 1970’s, Mr. Lederman eventually moved to Smithtown with his wife Millie, who was also blind.  Sy Lederman, along with his current guide dog, Jono, still lives in the same Smithtown home today. 

Mr. Lederman’s interview was recorded at his home in Smithtown on May 13, 2019.

The images below illustrate Sy Lederman’s military service and personal life.  Click on an image to enlarge.

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Images courtesy of Sy Lederman.

 

HENRY CARATTINI

Born in 1928 and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, Henry Carattini enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, serving 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.  Seaman Carattini was part of the crew that commissioned the ship in 1945 and also de-commissioned the ship in 1946, after the war.  For his service, 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 1960’s, raised his family here, and still lives in Smithtown today. 

Mr. Carattini’s interview was recorded at the Smithtown Library on July 2, 2019.

The images below primarily illustrate Henry Carattini’s military service on board the U.S.S. Puget Sound.  One of the images, as described in his interview, shows the plane crash on the deck of his ship that landed just 2 feet away from him   Click on an image to enlarge.

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Plane crash on deck of Puget Sound
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Loading bombs on Puget Sound
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Inspection aboard Puget Sound
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Commissioning of Puget Sound
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Air ship landing on Puget Sound deck
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Images courtesy of Henry Carattini.