Fort Hamilton Army Base hosted its annual ceremony honoring veterans who served in the Vietnam War on March 29. The event is a favorite among the former soldiers, but is more of a somber commemoration than a celebration, according to the media relations rep for the base.
“Every year, it’s always a solemn occasion,” said Bruce Hill. “The reason we have these events is to try to show them the appreciation they deserve but they never got.”
The event featured a keynote speech by Marleen Levi, who honored her longtime partner Patrick Gualtieri, a Vietnam veteran who spent half of his two-year service beating back the Tet Offensive and died of cancer in 2015 at 70-years-old. Gualtieri spent many years organizing events for veterans, including the annual Veterans’ Day Parade on the distant isle of Manhattan, in his post as the executive director of the United War Veterans Council. Levi said she was glad to have the chance to honor Gualtieri in her remarks.
“The event was fabulous, and I wanted to talk a little bit more about Pat, his many accomplishments, and his larger-than-life presence and interest in helping mankind,” said Levi, who lives in Bensonhurst. “He was so dynamic, he was a powerhouse, he was the consummate events-specialist for veterans. He always wore his Vietnam veterans hat — it was like his calling card.”
Another vet who was a friend of Gualtieri said he attended the annual event to pay his respects to his fallen comrades.
“I go to that ceremony every year out of respect — not only for the living Vietnam veterans, but more so for my brothers who are no longer with us,” said Danny Ingellis, who lives in bucolic Staten Island and served in Vietnam from 1967–1968.
Levi also received commemorative coins at the event honoring her own work organizing veteran-focused events.