Vincent DeMartino, a combat veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War who devoted much of his life to serving fellow veterans, has died. He was 94.
“He was a wonderful father,” his daughter, Rebecca DeMartino, said. “He was very loving, and he always put himself last.”
“Growing up with my dad … he taught us about dignity, and honor, and always to do the right thing,” she added. “And that’s what my father did.”
DeMartino, whose parents were both first-generation Italian-Americans, grew up in Valley Stream.
At 17, he enlisted to fight the Nazis in World War II. He served in the 95th Infantry Division under Gen. George Patton, which received the rare distinction of a unit citation for its role in taking the German city of Metz four months after D-Day.
For over a month in the fall of 1944 DeMartino fought in the Battle of Metz, where he was assigned to an anti-tank platoon, attacking enemy pill boxes, bunkers and fortified enemy positions. The Army awarded him the Combat Infantry Badge for directly engaging enemy combatants in the Battle of Metz.
He later was in Patton’s Third Army and held the Third Army Front during the Battle of the Bulge, which lasted from December 1944 to January 1945. DeMartino then transferred to the Ninth Army and helped capture the German cities of Dortman and Bremerhaven, Germany.
Vincent DeMartino and Vita Maria DeMartino were married on Jan. 12, 1964, while DeMartino was stationed in Munich, Germany. Their two children, Rebecca DeMartino and Vincent A. DeMartino Jr., were born while DeMartino was stationed in Munich.
He retired from the military in August 1970, after completing tours during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He received a number of decorations throughout his service, including a European Theatre Ribbon with Four Battle Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Korean War Medal, Vietnam War Medal, Good Conduct Medal and French Medal of Honor.
The DeMartinos moved to Floral Park after returning from Germany. Vincent DeMartino remained there until January, when he moved to the Long Island Veterans Home in Stony Brook.
In June 2015, DeMartino was elevated to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honour in a ceremony marking the 71st Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. Helen Patton, the granddaughter of General Patton, attended the ceremony.
Rebecca DeMartino said that her father logged over 10,000 volunteer hours with the VA. He served as past Nassau County commander, past grand commander of the Military Order of the Cootie, VA volunteer services representative for St. Albans Hospital and chaplain at VFW Post 52–53. He was the grand marshal at the Queens Veteran’s Day Parade in November.
“Up until the day he died, he still continued to serve the veterans,” said Rebecca DeMartino.
At 94, DeMartino was the oldest honor guard in New York’s Eleventh Regiment, she said.
His last mission with the Eleventh Regiment Honor Guard was at the Long Island National Cemetery in October.
“He was truly heartbroken when he couldn’t make the missions” because he was sick, DeMartino said. “He lost a piece of him, not being able to do the military honors.”
“He was a veteran 100%,” she added.
“He touched so many people,” said DeMartino. “My father was a lovely, lovely man and the most caring person. He always just wanted peace, and he always did just for everybody else and never did for himself.”
DeMartino died on Feb. 28. Services were held on March 2 and 3 at Dalton Funeral Home in Floral Park, and a Mass was held at Our Lady of Victory Church on March 4. He was buried in the Long Island National Cemetery.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his son, Vincent, his grandson, Nicolas Lang and his wife, Vita.