BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
On May 31, State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) honored lifelong Astoria resident and World War II hero Robert Danke as an inductee into the New York State Senate Veteran’s Hall of Fame.
The Veteran’s Hall of Fame is designed to pay tribute to the heroes who served our country in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Danke was officially inducted into the Veteran’s Hall of Fame on May 21 in Albany, but the veteran said honoring him in front of his porch was a special moment for him and his family.
WWII started when Danke was only 17-years-old. He could not enlist in the service without a signature from his father, who also served in the Navy at the time, at the age of 50, with his other 19-year-old son.
Danke was among the first to land on the beaches of Salerno, Italy in September 1943. The Platoon C-7 of the Naval Fourth Beach Battalion landed on Yellow Beach during heavy fire, which left two Allied soldiers wounded. Danke dodged the bullets to bring his fellow members of the Allied forces back to safety where doctors from the scene say he saved their lives.
“God took good care of me because the things I had done, I couldn’t have done without Him,” said Danke.
“At that time, patriotism was very high and I wasn’t the only kid there because most of us were 18-19-year-olds,” Danke added.
“We had a lot of ships go overseas, but ships in first part of the convoy and the last part sunk before reaching shore, but my ship was in the middle, which was the surviving one,” Danke said about his travel overseas.
Danke was also at forefront in Northern African fighting the Germans, was involved in the invasion of Southern France and was in the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa when Japan surrendered.
During his service, the brave soldier received the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart to commemorate the wounds he sustained on the beaches of Salerno.
“Bob Danke is a true American hero and I am grateful for the opportunity to commemorate the services he rendered his country and his community,” Gianaris said. “He fought bravely to protect our country’s freedom and he is a neighbor of whom all of us in Astoria can be proud.”
Reach Reporter Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.