Joseph Randazzo, Frank Agoglia and Eugene Thomas Leavy met Saturday in rarefied company.
The three World War II veterans, all 95 and older, gathered at the American Airpower Museum in East Farmingdale to remember their service and be honored for the duty to country in liberating Europe from the Nazi occupation.
"At that time we only had one thought: to survive and come home. War is terrible. We were so intent on self-preservation and doing duty and try to survive," said Randazzo, 95, of West Babylon.
Randazzo served in the Army’s 75th Infantry Division and received the Bronze Star as a machine-gunner at the Battle of the Bulge, where 48 members of his unit were killed. He also fought at Rhineland and Central Europe. He was shot in the leg and hospitalized in 1945, receiving the Purple Heart.
"It’s important others don’t forget what we did and the sacrifices made," Randazzo said. "We were all young kids and proud to serve our country. There aren’t many of us left anymore and it’s important the younger generations realize what we did."
The veterans were honored at the museum Saturday with certificates for their military service as the Living History re-enactors of the 101st Airborne took flight on a C-47 Skytrain over Long Island.
The museum’s living history director Robert Scarabino said the event was held to reunite the war veterans, who had a chance to tell their stories.
"They’re very humble men. They grew up as the Greatest Generation and during the Great Depression," Scarabino said. "Their country didn’t offer much during the Depression. When this country was attacked, they answered the call of duty and fought for justice and liberty."
Agoglia, 97, of Deer Park recalled crash landing his glider at Normandy behind enemy lines where his unit with the 82nd Airborne went on to help liberate France.
"The landing was a surprise and I’m still here to talk about it so we made out OK," Agoglia said. "I’m glad it’s over and lucky to be back."
Leavy, 95, of East Northport served in I Company of the 100th Infantry Division, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.
"This is the greatest country in the world and we were using the motivation of this country to knock out the Hitlers and the Mussolinis and performed a needed and proud service to be part of saving the world," Leavy said.