Veterans from Allerton Avenue and beyond got a boost of emotional and moral support as a local civic organization honored their dedication to America.
Two veterans from the 49th Precinct as well as one who grew up in Fordham were honored in a ceremony at P.S. 121 on Thursday, May 28.
The Allerton Avenue Homeowners and Tenants Association honored Captain Tony Plata, First Class Petty Officer Mary DeFalco, and Sergeant John Toscano. It is Allerton’s fifth celebration of returning military personnel from Iraq.
“We are all here as citizens to support our soldiers – those who put their lives on the line to support our country,” said Sal Castorina, president of the organization, at the ceremony. “It is our duty as a civic organization to meet the needs of the community. That is why we have been doing this for five years, and will continue to do so until all soldiers are home.”
The 49th Precinct Explorers Program cadets under the director of youth officer Chris Traumer presented a color guard at the beginning and end of the ceremony. A video collage honored veterans from Allerton stretching back to World War I. Entertainer Charlie Orge sang the National Anthem and God Bless America during the presentation.
Representatives of Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca presented certificates of merit to the three soldiers, who seemed humbled and honored by the experience. Many said the camaraderie that the felt with their fellow soldiers helped them through difficult times in Iraq.
“I couldn’t have done it myself,” Plata said. “We had male and female soldiers, as well as older and younger soldiers, but what really mattered is that we completed our mission and are back home.”
Plata worked with the Army National Guard’s 133rd Quarter Master Company, where he supplied other units in Al Asad, Iraq with food, water, clothing, and gasoline. He returned on March 1. Defalco served 18 months in the Navy as part of a top-secret team stationed in Manama Bahrain. Toscano, a Marine, served tours of duty in both Kosovo and Iraq. His most recent assignment put him in charge of an anti-armor team.