Decorated World War II veteran Daniel De Francisco of Riverhead, who landed in Normandy, France on D-Day and was injured in battle in Germany, died March 24, 2019 at Peconic Bay Medical Center at age 94.
De Francisco was a member of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion, which was part of the second wave of the assault on Utah Beach on D-Day. Along with his entire battalion, De Francisco was awarded the Silver Star for their heroism that day. De Francisco and his unit made their way through France and pushed into Germany, fighting in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge in Germany. He took shrapnel in the leg in Hürtgen Forest. He was awarded a Purple Star and a Bronze Star for his service.
France honored De Francisco for his role on D-Day with the French Legion of Honor during ceremonies at West Point in May 2014.
De Francisco was a life member of Riverhead VFW Post 2476. He joined the post after making friends with then-post commander Joseph Edler at St. John the Evangelist Church.
“He was one of my buddies,” Edler said today. “We went out together on poppy drives,” he said, referring to the VFW’s fundraising effort for disabled veterans. “He would only come out with me. I’m really going to miss him.”
Edler, a Vietnam War veteran, wrote a letter to get De Francisco his medals, which the veteran had never received, though they had been awarded. He also drove his friend to West Point for the ceremony at which he was honored with the French Legion of Honor.
“He was a good guy. He will really be missed,” said Edler.
De Francisco was one of only two surviving World War II veterans in the Riverhead VFW Post, Edler said.
Born in Brooklyn on June 28, 1924, he was the son of Louis and Felicia De Francisco. He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served until 1945.
He has a career as a tailor in New York City. On Feb. 19, 1955, he married Evelyn Miller. After his retirement in 1986, they became full-time residents of Reeves Park, where they had summered since 1971. De Francisco was an usher at St. John the Evangelist Church for 33 years, and was a past president of Riverhead Seniors and Golden Circle. He was also a bingo caller.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, by a sister, Gloria Rye of Mississippi, and by many nieces and nephews.
The family will receive visitors on Tuesday, March 26 from 2 to 5 p.m. at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. A funeral Mass will be offered on Wednesday, March 27 at 10:45 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church. Interment will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to St. John the Evangelist Church, 546 St. John’s Place, Riverhead NY 11901.
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