Local Hero Honored by Students

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Middle school students paid tribute to local veteran James Joseph Black Jr. during a traditional flag ceremony at the Elementary School on Oct. 17.

During the ceremony, which was attended by students, teachers, school and government officials, and members of the Hampton Bays American Legion Hand-Aldrich Post 924 and VFW Post 5350, the school district raised a flag in honor of Mr. Black’s service to the country. Students also read poems and sang and spoke of Mr. Black’s life.

“The Hampton Bays Public School District is proud to honor Jim Black for his service to the United States and to remember him by flying a flag in his honor for the entire month at the Hampton Bays Elementary School,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen.

Mr. Black enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. After completing boot camp at Camp Green Bay in Wisconsin, he was sent to New Orleans, where he was assigned to an outgoing unit. He was soon re-stationed to the U.S. Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Fla., where he was trained as an airplane mechanic. He received additional training in Norfolk, Va. so that he could work on tow planes that pulled the targets for aerial gunnery practice.

After training, he was stationed in New Bedford, Mass., where he specialized in the mechanics of naval torpedo bombers and Grumman’s F6F. His job was to refit these crafts with new engines and to repair damage done during combat.

In 1946, Mr. Black was honorably discharged at Lido Beach. He used the G.I. Bill to continue his education in aircraft mechanics and received his aircraft mechanics license, allowing him to work on all types of commercial aircraft. Despite all of his training, however, there were no jobs available in the aircraft field, so he opted to work as a steamfitter until his retirement in 1983.

Mr. Black’s roots in Hampton Bays started to grow in 1966 when he bought a summer home as a place to stay during his fishing trips. Then in 1983, Mr. Black, who volunteers his time at the Dominican Sisters, moved to the area permanently.