Lifelong Astoria resident Robert Danke, 88, was inducted into the New York State Senate Veteran’s Hall of Fame for his service in World War II.
“I’m honored, I’m really honored,” said Danke holding a certificate recognizing his induction outside his home on 43rd Street last week. “Veterans are putting their life on the line, and we should all remember that.”
In the Navy, Danke’s first taste of combat was on the beaches of Salerno, Italy, in September of 1943, where he saved the lives of two of his fellow soldiers.
During a heavy gunfight as allied forces stormed the Yellow Beach, a landing craft with two wounded men became stranded. Danke swam to the boat and pulled the men to safety.
He would later serve on the battlefields of Africa and in the Pacific. He witnessed Japan surrender while serving in Okinawa. Danke received the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart.
Another hero was Danke's father, who at age 50 enlisted to fight in the war just a few months after Danke himself, who was only 17, had done so.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to commemorate the services he rendered his country and his community,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris said, “He fought bravely to protect our county’s freedom, and he is a neighbor all of us in Astoria can be proud of.”
Following his time at war, Danke returned to Astoria where he worked as a bartender and for the phone company.
“I didn’t have a batting average of .400,” Danke said with a smile of the Veteran's Hall of Fame. “But I’m in there.”