Town thanks Tom Cronin for honoring Island vets

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | Police Officer Tom Cronin with his son Pacey, left, receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from the town for his work honoring Island veterans at Friday’s Town Board meeting. Presenting the award at right is Supervisor Jim Dougherty.

Shelter Island honored one of its finest for his tireless efforts honoring Island men who went to war.

At Friday’s Town Board meeting, the town gave Shelter Island Police Officer Tom Cronin a Certificate of Appreciation and accompanying plaque for his work organizing an “Honor Flight” to Washington D.C last fall for  World War II veterans and others. One highlight of the exhilarating trip to D.C. and back was an emotional visit to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

Nine of the Greatest Generation vets made the trip from the Island sponsored by Honor Flight Long Island along with men who served during the Korean and Vietnam eras, and those posted to Beirut, Lebanon and the first Gulf War, plus 18 people who accompanied them. P.O. Cronin came up with the idea to pay tribute to his own hometown vets. The tour’s guiding spirit every step of the way, he coordinated with Honor Flight Long Island and organized the raising of $13,000 that paid for all expenses.

It was a day all the veterans said was one they will never forget.

First-hand information about the war is fading fast, considering that World War II veterans, once 16 million strong, are now dying at the rate of 740 a day, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration.

That fact is one reason P.O. Cronin was inspired to provide the trip for the vets. His father, who died in 1998, was a Navy veteran who never talked about his service. “And I never asked,” P.O. Cronin said last fall on the trip. Hooking up with Honor Flight Long Island, and organizing the trip to Washington, was a chance to be with and learn something from the veterans of his father’s generation, he said.

He was accompanied to Town Hall to receive the official gratitude from the town by his young son, Pacey, who had been with him on the flight to Washington.