By: Joe Kuhn
Last Sunday Pear River residents gathered outside of the town’s Hibernian House to celebrate Francis Duffy, a World War Two veteran and proud member of the fraternity. At the request of the organization’s Pearl River chapter, and through the efforts of Councilman Denis Troy and Supervisor Teresa Kenny, the section of Railroad Avenue in front of the American Legion and Hibernian House was renamed Francis T. Duffy Way following a ceremony celebrating Duffy and his service to our country.
“You people are crazy,” Duffy told the assembled crowd as he took his seat for the ceremony. A humble man, Duffy appeared surprised and amused that so many residents and county officials would stand outside in 30-degree weather to commemorate his service.
Duffy enlisted in the Marine Corps on Aug. 4, 1942, and attended recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., with additional infantry training at New River and Camp Lejeune, N.C. He sailed with the 2nd Battalion, 25th Regiment, and 4th Marine Division for the Marshall Islands in 1944 – the only Marine Corp division to sail directly into combat from the United States.
Duffy participated in the landings at Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima –some of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific, according to a 2000 history compiled by the 4th Marine Division Historical Detachment. He was wounded by grenades on Iwo Jima on Feb. 27, 1945, and awarded the Silver Star “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” after taking out two members of a group of enemy troops that attempted to attack personnel at an observation post.
After the war, Duffy joined the U.S. postal service and became an active member of the American Legion, where he has spent years advocating for his fellow veterans.
Duffy personally unveiled the new street sign bearing his name with the help of his granddaughter Sarah.