Mahopac Vietnam Veteran Honored with State Liberty Medal

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State Sen Pete Harckham with Judy and John Fratangelo with the Liberty Medal photo credit Tom Staudter

A decorated Vietnam veteran from Mahopac was recently awarded a New York State Liberty Medal from Senator Pete Harckham (D/Mt. Kisco) at a Veterans Advisory Council meeting in Yorktown.

John Fratangelo, who last year was inducted in the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame but had the ceremony postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, also received his Hall of Fame honors on September 23.
The New York State Liberty Medal is given to individuals who have merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers.

“Your story is remarkable, John—and your service to our country has been exemplary,” said Harckham when he presented to the Liberty Medal to Fratangelo. “Your continuing concern for your fellow warriors illustrates the simple rule of a good soldier: no one gets left behind. You are a man of high principles. Simply, the world is a better place because of you.”

A native of the Bronx who has resided in Mahopac for the past 29 years, Fratangelo served in Vietnam aa part of the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division. Wounded in combat, he was awarded both the Purple Heart and Silver Star, a medal for valor. Later, he accompanied the body of cousin, Anthony, killed in combat, back to the U.S. from Vietnam. Today, he is junior vice commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 21 of Putnam / Westchester.

More than 50 years ago, Fratangelo began writing stories about his wartime experiences, and with the encouragement of his wife, Judy, and local writers groups, completed his book about the war, entitled The Last Goodbye, and published it last year.

During the meeting, Harckham noted that he was able to include a $4.5 million allocation for the Joseph P. Dwyer VET 2 VET peer support program in the 2021-2022 State Budget, as well as funding for the new veteran center at Pace University’ Pleasantville campus. In addition, Harckham updated attendees at the meeting about the status in the State Legislature of several veterans-related bills discussed and recommended by area veterans at an advisory council meeting the senator held previously.

Among the bills Harckham spoke about was the designation of the pedestrian bridge across the Taconic State Parkway in the Town of Yorktown as the “Atomic Veterans Memorial Bridge,” which was sponsored by State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (D/Brewster); and another bill that replaces the question “are you a veteran” with “have you ever served in the military” in state intake forms to ensure those who have served our country do not prematurely disqualify themselves from receiving veterans’ benefits or veteran-specific care. Legislation passed in the State Assembly clarifies the definition of veteran to include career members of the armed forces for purposes of the veterans’ alternative tax exemption.

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