FARMINGDALE - For a veteran from Floral Park, his service to his country didn't end when he returned from the battlegrounds of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Vincent DeMartino, 91, marks Memorial Day every day in honor of his brothers in arms. Twice a week, he dons his dress blues, laces up this patent leather shoes and proudly answers the call to duty.
As the oldest honor guard in New York, DeMartino is on a mission of remembrance, giving fallen heroes the final salute they deserve. Demartino participates in as many as 10 funerals a day when he's on a mission at Long Island National Cemetery. As he pays homage to the war dead, his service also brings comfort to the living.
"They're my heroes," he says, "because they served their country. They volunteered or they were drafted, they still served their country and they deserve some sort of recognition."
DeMartino discovered his calling in life more 80 years ago. "When I was just a young kid and I saw my first Army person, I always said, 'That's what I wanted to be.' And I kept my promise to myself."
In 1943 at age 17, DeMartino enlisted in the Army to fight the Nazis during World War II. He served in the 95th Infantry Division as part of Gen. George Patton's Third Army.
DeMartino managed to walk away from the brutal battles of three wars unscathed - but not untouched by the courage of those who didn't make it back. It's why DeMartino has made it his mission to mark the passing of his brothers in arms, past and present.
DeMartino is also a volunteer at the Northport VA, and he serves as chaplain at VFW Post 52-53 in Albertson.