Flag Flies for George DePerna

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In its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to World War II veteran George DePerna by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of October.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. DePerna for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen.

Mr. DePerna was honored at a ceremony held Oct. 19 at Hampton Bays Elementary School. During the event, middle school students read his biography and public officials, including Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Sen. Ken LaValle and Rep. Lee Zeldin, spoke in his honor.

Mr. DePerna was born in Manhattan in 1925. He dropped out of high school to enlist in the United States Navy in 1943 and was sent to boot camp in Buffalo, New York. A year later, he was assigned to radio operator school and was trained in voice communications and continuous wave messaging.

After graduating from radio school, Mr. DePerna held various assignments around the country before being assigned to the U.S. Navy Submarine Chaser 1370 as the ship’s radio operator. The crew’s mission was to deliver supplies to Mindanao, Canton Phoenix, a small group of islands located halfway between Pearl Harbor and the island of Fiji. In addition to delivering supplies, they were to escort convoys while also searching for Japanese submarines. The ship carried 14 depth charges and launched them to destroy enemies. Also, while on board, submarine chaser crews began training for the invasion of Japan.  

For those servicemen assigned to the units that would invade Japan, President Truman authorized the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, which led to Japan’s surrender a few weeks later on Sept. 2.

Mr. DePerna was honorably discharged after the war and was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the Asia-Pacific Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.  

He returned to New York and worked at various jobs before training as a telephone switchman and working with Bell Telephone until his retirement.

Mr. DePerna married Marie Sievers in 1951 and together, they lived in Astoria, Queens and later, Lake Ronkonkoma. They became the parents of two daughters, Eileen and Kathleen. Unfortunately, Eileen’s life was tragically lost at the age of 15 when she was hit by a car. Mr. and Mrs. DePerna stayed in Lake Ronkonkoma until Mrs. DePerna became too frail to be cared for at home. She was moved to a nursing home and Mr. DePerna moved to Hampton Bays to live his daughter, Kathleen. He regularly visited his wife until she passed away in 2014.