A small crowd of veterans, friends, and family members gathered recently at the Medford Athletic Complex to honor the memory of Army Sgt. Jason Santora as the Town of Brookhaven unveiled a memorial to the fallen solider.
Santora was a 2003 graduate of Sachem High School and a Farmingville native. He enlisted in the Army in 2006 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment where he served until 2010, when he was killed in action in Afghanistan.
"I picked [the Medford Athletic Complex] because I coached his PAL baseball team here for many years," said Gary Santora, Jason's father. "We have a lot of good memories here."
Brookhaven Town Acting Supervisor Kathleen Walsh began the dedication ceremony by noting that in the last couple of weeks everyone has been involved in the "crazy hurricane situation."
"Today however we're here for the Santora family and what they have gone through. This is a very small taste of the tremendous sacrifice that our volunteers in the military have made," said Walsh. "It is our responsibility to care for each other the way that Jason has cared for all of us by volunteering to preserve our freedom. We need to remember that as we were inconvenienced through the recent storm. We need to remember what all of our veterans are doing. They voluntarily sign up to go over and preserve the quality of life that we have. It's not an easy journey."
Councilwoman Connie Kepert asked of those gathered, "As we stand here and remember the sacrifice of our young men and women, particularly that of Jason and honor his family and their sacrifice, let us also pray for peace so that we are not standing here dedicating monuments to other young men and women."
In a short speech, Gary Santora said: "I want to honor my son but it's not easy. It takes a special kid, a special hero, to enlist in the Army during wartime. Believe it or not, I tried to talk Jason out of it many times and then he told me that he was going to join the Rangers and I was really concerned."
Santora spoke of how he called his son just 10 days before he was killed. He wanted Jason to come home to attend his grandmother's funeral.
"He believed that they needed him there more than we needed him at home though," Santora said. "That's the kind of kid he was - he led from the front."
Jason Santora was posthumously awarded the Silver Star in 2011.
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