U.S. Air Force veteran Joseph Napolitano and U.S. Army veteran Richard Robinson were honored with quilts of valor presented by the Calverton Meadows to honor their service to the country and their community. Photo: Quint Nigro

Two veterans and pillars of the community were celebrated for their military service during ceremonies Thursday at the clubhouse in Calverton Meadows, a senior community off Fresh Pond Avenue in Calverton.

Calverton Meadows Community Manager Lynn Lombardo and Councilman Ken Rothwell presented the honorees with quilts made by the Calverton Meadows community in commemoration of their service.

Richard Robinson was awarded his quilt in recognition of his service as an Army Quartermaster. He served from 1954 to 1956, and was responsible for ensuring that other soldiers were well and properly equipped.

“He has stepped up, he helped so many of the community here,” Lombardo said.

Beyond his military service, Robinson has been a good neighbor and friend. According to Lombardo, he takes it upon himself to wake up early in the morning and ensure that everyone’s garbage cans make it outside. After the trash is collected, he takes them back up to people’s homes. He runs errands for folks who can’t do it themselves and gives them rides to the doctor. He did all of the above even during the height of the COVID pandemic, which posed a much higher risk to senior citizens like himself.

Joseph Napolitano was also awarded a quilt. He served as an Air Force radio operator, and during his service between 1951 and 1956, he was awarded a Good Conduct medal and given wings for his services. He is also proficient in morse code.

Calverton Meadows resident Grace Swift said Napolitano has also been an instrumental part of the community. He runs errands for others in the neighborhood, and would deliver food out of his truck to people when the community held a barbecue. Napolitano also helps organize “Italian Night,” where they serve Italian specialties and celebrate Italian culture.

“There’s no way to really thank the people that did all the work,” Conklin said.

As noted by speakers from the community and Town Board, the awardees were recognized for their military service, but they were both also celebrated as important and active members in their community, and their ongoing service to the people around them.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Council Member Ken Rothwell and Council Member Bob Kern were on hand to salute the honorees.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2003 by Catherine Roberts, whose son was deployed to Iraq. Quilts are made by a volunteer team that donates their time and the quilt materials. The purpose of awarding the quilt is to say to the honoree: “Thank you for your service, sacrifice and valor in serving our nation.” As of this summer, more than 350,000 quilts have been awarded, according to the Quilts of Valor Foundation’s website.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Quint Nigro

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Quint Nigro was born and raised in Riverhead, and is a 2023 graduate from College of the Atlantic. His background is in journalism and political science. When he isn't writing for work, he's writing for fun.