Derek J. Saint, a decorated World War II Army veteran who participated in the battles of Normandy and the Bulge, died in the Northport VA Medical Center Saturday of complications from a lengthy illness. He was 88.
Born in England in 1922, Saint came to New York with his family on the S.S. American Merchant on Feb. 20, 1930, said his nephew, Richard Kinder of Bloomfield, N.J.
He graduated from Northport High School in 1941 and joined the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, 506th Regiment, on Dec. 11, 1942, said Kinder. He served as a medic in the Army until Sept. 22, 1945, participating in two jumps, one into Normandy on D-Day and the other into Holland, also serving in the Battle of the Bulge.
Saint received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other awards, for his service.
In the invasion of Holland, "although just recovered from unconsciousness inducted by an exploding enemy shell, he refused to be evacuated immediately and remained on the front, caring for the wounded," according to a War Department letter issued April 28, 1949, in which he was awarded the medals.
Upon returning to Northport, Saint married Valerie Kinder, and worked as a driver for the former Long Island Lighting Co. until retirement. His wife preceded him in death.
Friends and family members describe Saint as humble and not one to relate war stories, though he boasted a license plate that said "D Day 44."
"He didn't talk about it a lot," Richard Kinder said. "He was a very, very modest man."
Saint spent many days swimming at the local VA with other veterans and regularly competed in the National Veterans Golden Age Games. Nearly every day he would go to fellow World War II veteran Walter Dickhut's house in Kings Park to drink green tea. "He loved my rocking chair because he always fell asleep in it," said Dickhut, 83.
"He was a medic, he's seen the worst of the worst," Dickhut said. "Derek was kind of a tight-lipped guy. He was just a good man with a good heart."
Saint is survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews.
A wake will be held Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Nolan & Taylor-Howe Funeral Home at 5 Laurel Ave. in Northport. A memorial service also will be held Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Northport American Legion Post 694 at 7 Woodside Ave. in Northport.