They served in the jungles of Vietnam, on the ground, in the sea and air in Europe during both world wars -- and the Town of Islip has, for decades, compiled their homespun stories.
With Operation Desert Storm a fading memory and the war on terror winding down, the town is compiling another volume of its service members' history and is seeking veterans who are town residents to share their tales.
"To get this out, it starts a conversation," said town board member John C. Cochrane Jr., a retired Navy captain who has spearheaded the project's most recent iteration. "This brings out a conversation that families need to have with their vets. It gives us an opportunity to start capturing our history. I think our kids and the generation after us should know our history."
The fourth edition of the Islip War Journal, which town officials anticipate publishing late this or early next year, will continue the town's tradition of featuring the biographies of servicemen and -women in a hardcover book.
To reach as many of the town's veterans -- some of whom may now be retired and living out-of-state -- town officials have posted on social media, contacted veterans groups and reached out to nursing homes and other facilities.
About a dozen veterans have submitted their biographies. Town officials hope to reach many more and are offering tutorials to family members of veterans on how to navigate the military archives.
The first book, which held veterans of World War II, was compiled and edited by Nathaniel R. Howell, the town historian. In the book's introduction, dated July 1, 1948, he wrote:
"To you, the soldiers, the sailors, Coast Guard, the Marines, the Merchant Marine or the civilians, who did your part in winning the greatest and most terrible war in all of history, these pages may have something of value, and as time rolls on, these values will be more and more intrinsic. Let this be a memorial to your efforts, whether they be great or small."
The town printed 5,500 copies of the 678-page book, which was distributed to those featured in its pages. This go-round, town officials are reaching out to businesses and private groups for funding to print the books.
Set to be memorialized in the planned book is the late Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Boulos, an Islip Hamlet resident who was killed in Lebanon in 1983 during a peacekeeping mission when a suicide bomber struck the Marine Corps barracks.
The town last year named a portion of Ocean Avenue in Boulos' honor.
Boulos' cousin, Hani Kutteh, an East Islip resident and NYPD detective, lobbied the town for the street-naming and said he'll ensure his cousin is featured in the next journal. Kutteh said, "He should be remembered."
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