On this date 24 – May – 2022, a legendary resident of East Meadow turned 100 years in age. A man with an “arms length” list off accomplishments.
In many cases, heroic accomplishments… That man is Anthony Butera.
A proud man to his community, a proud man of his county.
Born in 1922, “Andy” as he is often called, was assigned to duty by the United States Marines during World War II. He fought proudly for our great nation alongside some of the greatest Americans that ever lived.
Some called them the greatest generation… Had it not been for our military in this conflict, the many precious joys of life we enjoy today might be very different.
For Andy, his 100th birthday was a moment in time when he could share some of his deepest thoughts about his years as a Marine. At some points, his reflections brought back the memory of those left behind.
It was a poignant moment for the many residents, military personnel, and those of his beloved East Meadow Fire Department, who took to the street in a show of love, support, and pride as one fire truck after another, led by military vehicles, and our Patriot Guard contingent passed by in what seemed like an endless tribute.
Upon the end of the parade, dozens gathered for to hear the tributes, and stories, witness the presentation of awards, and yes, a 100th birthday cake as all in attendance sang Happy Birthday.
As much as it would seem the United States of American was Andy’s life, there was more….
Andy joined our East Meadow Fire Department on September 17, 1951 at the age of 29. On March 19, 1956, then Chief Dominick Santoro, a visionary himself, saw the need to expand our fire department as the hamlet of East Meadow began to flourish.
On March 19th of that year, Chief Santoro would request Andy, then 2nd Lieutenant of Engine Company # 2, to form a new Engine Company to be named Engine Company # 1.
Andy would become the first Captain.
As the years passed, Andy would move up the ranks and become Chief of the Department in 1959.
In the years that followed his terms in the Chief’s Office, Andy would be appointed as the Department’s “Chief Instructor” where he would define a groundbreaking position in firefighter training, maintaining department standards, record keeping, assisting with department wide drills, establishing classroom training courses of Fire, and EMS, far beyond those mandated by most organizations within the fire service. The end result is that many of those members who benefited from those trainings in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, now senior members themselves, are today’s most elite training instructors who train the newest generation of East Meadow volunteers.
Throughout his entire volunteer career, Andy maintained a vested interest in maintaining the history of East Meadow, whether it was fire pictures of our department, training pictures, or articles. For these actions Andy became the “Department Historian” A title he proudly holds today.
With a lifetime of milestones, Andy would reach the 70 year mark of membership in our department in September of 2021. He would become the first member in our department’s rich history to achieve such an honor.
Today, Andy enjoys his senior years with his loving wife Joy in their modest East Meadow home.
So this Memorial Day weekend we honor Ex Chief / United States Marine Corporal Anthony Butera, and all our United States servicemen and women who protect our freedom every day so we can live the life of free Americans.
Thank You Chief Butera. The accomplishments in your life will likely never be duplicated. We are a better nation, and community for all you have done.
STORY & PHOTOS: John J. O’Brien Sr