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Compiled by Vito P. DeFanis,Quartermaster

Past Post Commander

Charter Member

To my knowledge, the only men from Central Park who served overseas during World War I were Ralph Amendola, George Benkert, and Henry Butehorn Sr. There were not sufficient members to form a VFW Post until after World War II. During World War II, we had 272 people from Bethpage who served in the Armed Forces, seven of whom were women. After the war we came home in dribs and drabs. The first person to meet you when you stepped off the train was Mr. Greco, the gatekeeper. He would give you a big hug and say, "Glad you came home." The next one who greeted you was Ralph Amendola, with a "Welcome home" and an application for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In 1945, overseas veterans of World War II held a meeting at the Powell Avenue Grade School, now the site of Bethpage Public Library.

That was the beginning of the Bethpage VFW Post, and the first order of business was to find a name for the new Post. A list of Bethpage servicemen who lost their lives during World War II was made up. Among those names were the brothers Joseph and Charles Butehorn. It is these two men we honored by calling the Post Butehorn Brothers Post 4987.

The first Commander of the Post was Ralph Amendola, veteran of World War I. Meetings were held for several years in the auditorium of the Powell Avenue School. Later, an old barracks from Camp Upton was donated and moved to property on Lexington Avenue, now the site of the Bethpage Nursery School. The property was donated to the Post by Ralph Amendola. It was our home for over twenty years. After that we moved to the Police Boys Club on Stewart Avenue, then to the Archie McCord American Legion Hall, and presently we are back at the Police Athletic League building on Stewart Avenue.

The Post presently has 104 members, representing all branches of overseas service in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War, and other lesser-known conflicts since World War II. Meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesday of each month except July and August, when we meet only on the first Tuesday of the month.

Service Awards Earned by Post Members

Battle Stars - 200+

Bronze Stars - 17

Purple Hearts - 14

Unit Meritorious Service - 4

Merit Unit Citations - 2

Distinguished Service Cross - 1

Air Medals - 7

Combat Infantry Badge - 13

Distinguished Unit Awards - 4

Presidential Citations - 5

1 Former POW

1 Pearl Harbor Survivor

The Naming of this VFW Post

Joseph Butehorn: July 24, 1922 - May 10, 1945

Joseph was born in Bethpage on July 24, 1922, to Catherine and Henry A. Butehorn. He was one of five children. Joe went to Farmingdale High School. He had a great love for sports, and was a fantastic basketball player and loved to play softball. After graduation, Joe went to work for Grumman Aircraft. It seems strange that he worked on the same aircraft he was destined to fly in the war.

Joe joined the Marine Air Corps on October 15, 1942. With three stars on his campaign bar and thirty-seven successful missions to his credit, Corporal Joe, now a Marine Gunner, returned home on leave and visited his former associates at Grumman.

This young Marine who for two years welded tanks on airplanes, including Avengers, was now a turret gunner on a TBF. After his leave, he returned to his base in the Pacific Theater of Operations. He was shot down over the Ryukyu Island area. A special search team found an isolated grave on Myako Jima containing three bodies. One of them was Joe's.

He was killed in action on May 10, 1945. He was returned to the United States and buried in Pinelawn National Cemetery next to his brother, mother, and father, who was a World War I veteran.

Charles Butehorn: June 12, 1925 - November 27, 1944

Charles was born in Richmond Hill on June 12, 1925 to Catherine and Henry A. Butehorn. He was the youngest of five children. He graduated from Bethpage Grade School, then went on to graduate from Farmingdale High School. Charlie was a scholar in Latin and History. His dream was to be a History teacher. He graduated with a 4.0 average. He was president of the Red Cross Council and a member of the National Honor Society and the Community Council.

He was awarded a scholarship to Syracuse University. He worked for Republic Aviation. In November, he joined the Army and, after basic training at Camp McClelliac, Alabama, he left for overseas duty on April 14, 1944.

Private Charles Butehorn was in the 384th Infantry in Europe. He was wounded while participating in the second invasion of France on August 16, 1944. He contracted malaria while in the hospital.

After being discharged from the hospital, he returned to the infantry in France. Charlie was killed in the invasion of Southern France on November 27, 1944. He is buried in Pinelawn National Cemetery next to his brother, mother, and father.

Henry Butehorn

Another brother, Henry Butehorn, was stationed with the Air Force in Italy. When his second brother was killed, the government pulled him off the line (against his wishes), and brought him back to the United States. Henry was a Life Member of the VFW Post that is named after the Butehorn Brothers.

Two sisters, Madeline Cramer and Dorothy Keneski, were also greatly involved in the history of the VFW unit.