Forum Photo by Patricia Adams
Butch Puccio outside his Shore Parkway home, surrounded by friends, family, and a grateful Howard Beach community.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Howard Beach community leaders, residents, cops, and firefighters on Sunday made a special house call for a special man.
A pandemic parade of nearly 50 cars slowly rolled past a beaming Butch Puccio, 99, who was surrounded by family, including his adoring wife of 76 years, Jennie, as he sat in front of his Shore Parkway home in his Army uniform, reciprocating salutes.
For decades, Butch and Jennie have been fixtures at every Memorial Day and Veterans Day event in Howard Beach. Every Memorial Day, the couple attends the Catholic War Veterans Mass at St. Mary Gate of Heaven church on 101st Avenue in Ozone Park; then they grab a bite at Esquire Diner before heading back down to Howard Beach to watch the parade.
This year, unfortunately, was different. New York remains on “PAUSE” due to the COVID-19 crisis, so the Puccios were not able to enjoy their Memorial Day rituals because most of their beloved destinations are still shuttered.
Staff members at State Sen. Joe Addabbo’s Office still wanted to do something for Butch and his family. It began with a post on the Howard Beach Dads Facebook group; Karen Jasiak shared it with other online communities, and it went viral.
Children brought Butch cards, balloons, and cookies. Area cops and members of the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department stopped to pay their respects; while Boy Scouts from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary church of Ozone Park also arrived to thank Butch Puccio for his service.
On April 15, the veteran marked his 99th birthday. We can’t wait to see him cross the century mark—and a hundred more.
Thank you for your service, Mr. Puccio.