World War II Veteran Dominick Critelli Honored – Long Island Weekly

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, Deputy Supervisor Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Dennis Dunne, Councilman Tom Muscarella and Councilwoman Melissa Miller presented the Town of Hempstead Champion of Freedom Award to Floral Park resident Dominick Critelli, a World War II veteran, during the Town of Hempstead Salute to Veterans event on June 29 at Town Park Point Lookout.

Critelli, who is 103 years old, also played the National Anthem on his soprano saxophone for the audience. In his spare time, he continues to play saxophone with a band that he formed more than half of a century ago.

Dominick Critelli of Floral Park is honored at the annual veterans’ salute. (Town of Hempstead)

Critelli, the final honoree of the evening was not listed on the program–as the town intended on it being a surprise for everyone who was in attendance, including Critelli himself.

Earlier this month, nations around the world marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day, a major Allied offensive that is widely regarded as the turning point of World War II. Only a few World War II veterans are still alive today–even fewer who were part of the D-Day operation.

In 1944, Critelli served as a staff sergeant with the United States Army, a member of the 95th Infantry Division, 378th Infantry Regiment’s Artillery Aviation Unit. Critelli was tasked with airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions–providing boots on the ground with an idea of what they were up against. His assignments often brought him behind enemy lines, where he would come under fire by anti-aircraft artillery.

The 95th Infantry Division was renowned for its so-called “hidden-ball tricks,” in which, based largely on Critelli’s intelligence gathering,

Allied Forces were able to dupe well-fortified Nazi units into taking the bait on phony radio chatter and battle plan misdirection–allowing the Allies to win battles that were otherwise classified as “suicide missions.”

As part of the D-Day invasion, Critelli airlifted supplies to battle-weary soldiers in the days after the initial landing, allowing the Allies to hold hard-fought territories. He also served in the Battle of the Bulge under the command of General George Patton, with his Aviation Unit flying
through heavy artillery to provide reinforcements to pinned-down troops.

For his heroic service, Critelli and other World War II veterans were invited to Normandy, France earlier this month for the 80th anniversary ceremonies. There, he was given the nation’s highest military honor–becoming a Knight of the French Legion of Honor.

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