Boro remembers decorated Forest Hills veteran

Boro remembers decorated Forest Hills veteran

Pat Toro, a former United States Marine and passionate Veterans’ advocate, died at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island at the age of 65.  Photo courtesy Pat Toro Benefit for Life

Pat Toro, a former United States Marine and passionate Veterans’ advocate, died at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island at the age of 65. Photo courtesy Pat Toro Benefit for Life

Nearly 100 family members and friends came out Wednesday in memory of Pat Toro, a decorated U.S. Marine and veterans’ advocate from Forest Hills.

An honor guard was charged with accompanying the casket at his ceremony at Our Lady of Hope church in Middle Village to and from the ceremony while holding American flags, and other retired veterans in the audience donned shirts announcing what sect of the armed forces they were a part of. Pastor Michael Carrano had kind words to say about the decorated veteran as he led the funeral.

“There is a saying in the service that says ‘leave no comrade behind,’ but with Pat, that did not end on the battlefield, it continued,” Carrano said.

Toro succumbed to Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a precursor to leukemia, and died July 3 at St. Francis Hospital on Long Island.

Toro, 65, was sent to South Vietnam as a Marine during the Vietnam War from 1969 to 1970. Upon his return and retirement from the service, he worked for the Port Authority Police Department and was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame in 2006.

After Toro retired from the Port Authority, he became an active member of the Queens chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.  A former Forest Hills resident, Toro moved to Narrowsburg, N.Y. several years ago.

Paul Narson, president of the Queens VVA chapter, said he and the Toro family believe that Toro’s illness was caused by exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange during his tour in South Vietnam.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized that certain diseases, including some strands of leukemia, can be associated with Agent Orange exposure and veterans may be eligible for government benefits for the diseases.

“We’re sad. We lost one of our brothers,” Narson said. “In Washington D.C. there are 58,000 names for lives lost during the Vietnam War. We have lost more than that after the war due to the effects of Agent Orange.”

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) issued a statement on Tuesday regarding Toro’s death, calling him one of the “strongest and most ardent advocates for veterans” he ever met. Addabbo commended Toro for his devotion to the country and the needs of its veterans.

“I was blessed to have worked with Pat as a city councilman and as a state senator,” Addabbo said. “I will never forget his tenacity and compassion for working towards improving the lives of all veterans.”

Narson, along with the Queens VVA executive board, organized a blood drive on April 15 to collect donations for Toro’s blood transfusions that he was undergoing as part of his treatment. Only 40 volunteers were needed, but Narson said 125 people stepped up to give blood in order to help Toro recover.

“We collected 58 pints and that would have been enough to guarantee his transfusions for as long as he needed,” Narson said. “He was getting transfusions almost up until the point of his death.”

Toro is survived by his wife, Evelyn Toro, a daughter, and other family members. His wake was held on Tuesday at the Hess-Miller Funeral Home and he was laid to rest at the Calverton National Cemetery in Middle Village following a mass at the Our Lady of Hope Church.

By Ashley Helms


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