HAMBURG, N.Y. — It wasn’t how Nate Alessandra’s family originally pictured celebrating the vet’s birthday – standing six feet apart and wearing masks while the 98-year-old stood, watching from the porch of Elderwood Assisted Living.
“My pop is absolutely amazing, and he deserves to have some sort of celebration for his 98 birthday,” said his granddaughter, Kristin Lombardo.
Alessandra was one of four brothers who served overseas – only three returned.
He was a Corporal in the Army Air Force stationed in England, and brought home with him the Medal of Good Conduct and many stories he shared with his family.
“He always talks about D-Day and how crazy it was to be there,” Lombardo said. “It made him who he is today. There’s not too many World War II veterans left.”
But it wasn’t just Alessandra’s family gathered in the Elderwood courtyard; the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1419 also came to give him a proper salute.
“A few years ago we gave a dinner at our post for World War II veterans, and Nate was there so we made a connection at that time…there’s no way we weren’t going to be here,” said Chaplain for VFW Post 1419 Brent Doyle. “We do a lot of ceremonies graveside. There, we comfort the family. Today what we did was for him and the family, so it really had a meaning for us that we were able to do it while he was still living.”
Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.