A community leader who served with one of the bravest units in Vietnam was recently honored with induction into the Veterans’ Hall of Fame. The honor came as a result of his service on the battlefield and his heroism on the home front in advocating for veterans.
Pat Devine was inducted into the newly created New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame on Tuesday, June 1.
Senator Jeff Klein nominated Devine to the position in May, citing his commitment to advocating for veterans and his fellow Throggs Neck residents for more than three decades. Klein will honor Devine at his annual fireworks extravaganza on Orchard Beach in July.
Devine, a 30-year member of Community Board 10, served in Vietnam in the 1st Battalion of the 9th Marines. This battalion was known as the “walking dead” because it was singled out for annhilation by the North Vietnamese army in a battle on July 2, 1967.
“I greatly appreciate Senator Klein’s recognition of my commitment and that of my fellow veterans to protecting and providing for not only our country, but our local communities as well,” Devine said. “I am proud to remain a staunch advocate for New York’s veterans, and I look forward to continuing to serve them and the Bronx for many years to come.”
Devine returned from his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968. He went to work first in private sanitation and then in the plumbing trade with Local 2. He joined in 1973 and served as commander of the Theodore Korony Post #253 of the American Legion, where he is presently serving as the post’s commander for the second time. He was instrumental in the creation of Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park in Throggs Neck, which was dedicated to the 1,741 veterans from New York City who died in Vietnam.
“From the creation of the park I learned to work the system,” Devine said. “It was then that other veterans came to me for help with their concerns.”
Devine fought for a better response from the government to issues like soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of being exposed to Agent Orange. He housed homeless veterans returning from Vietnam in a building that the Korony Post then occupied. He also worked to end the stigma about being a Vietnam veteran when polarization in the society at large made it very difficult for returning veterans.
Klein thanked him for his dedication.
“Pat has been a committed advocate for New York’s veterans and his Bronx neighbors for more than thirty years,” said Klein. “Our city, state, and nation depend on the bravery and dedication of individuals like Pat and all of his fellow veterans, and I thank him for his continued service.”
Presently, Devine sits on the New York City Veterans Council, an advisory board formed by Mayor Bloomberg, and is an active volunteer at the James J. Peters Veterans Hospital Body/Mind Clinic for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for returning Iraqi veterans.
“The key to success is that you don’t do it for yourself,” Devine said. “You can only accomplish a lot of things if you keep yourself and ego out of it and serve. It is a religious experience at the same time: God and country is what the American Legion is noted for.”
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or procchio@c
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