SENECA FALLS — Family and friends of the late Howard Amidon wiped away tears Tuesday as the World War II veteran was honored for being nominated to the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.
“Howard recently passed away but was told he was nominated shortly before he died,” state Sen. Pam Helming said.
Amidon was among nearly 15 Seneca County veterans recognized during a ceremony at Kirk-Casey Post 366 of the American Legion in Seneca Falls. All have been nominated for the Hall of Fame, which honors outstanding veterans who have distinguished themselves and made significant contributions in their military careers, personal endeavors, and community service.
Amidon, who was affectionately known as the “King of Canoga,” died Sept. 30 at the age of 98. He graduated from Mynderse Academy in 1938 and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942, flying a cargo plane known as “The Hump” during some of the deadliest missions of World War II, eventually earning the rank of staff sergeant.
“As the daughter of a U.S. Air Force veteran and the mother-in-law of a current U.S. Army soldier, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for everything that the men and women of our nation’s military have done and continue to do to protect our freedom and our way of life as American citizens,” Helming said.
The event was one of several Helming held this week in her 54th Senate District to honor area veterans nominated for the Hall of Fame. Helming hosted events Monday in Wayne County and Webster in Monroe County, and after Tuesday morning’s event in Seneca Falls hosted an afternoon ceremony in Ontario County (Phelps).
Helming hosted similar events Wednesday in Cayuga and Tompkins counties. One veteran from the 54th District will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year, along with one veteran from each of the state’s Senate districts.
Along with Amidon, the other nominees from Seneca County are Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Bethea Jr. of Waterloo, who during a deployment to Libya helped evacuate the U.S. Embassy during an attack; Navy Petty Officer Second Class Marshall Burgess of Waterloo, who spent 24 hours in the Pacific Ocean after his ship was sunk during the World War II battle of Guadalcanal; and World War II Army Sgt. Anthony Casamassima, who later had a long tenure as Seneca Falls police chief.
Also honored were Army Sgt. William Fuhrmann (Waterloo), Army Lt. Col. Stanley Grela (Waterloo), Army Cpl. Raymond Hauf (Waterloo), Air Force Airman First Class Mary Joslyn (Romulus), Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer William Moore (Seneca Falls), and Army Lt. Col. Sharon Rayno (Waterloo), who is commander of Kirk-Casey Post 366.
Other local veterans nominated to the Hall of Fame are Army Technical Sgt. Louis Rizzieri, Army Cpl. Francis Saracino, Army Cpl. Emerson Smith, and Army Capt. Keith Tidball.
Helming, who has hosted the local events for the last four years, noted that Tidball will be working with local sportsmen’s clubs and Wounded Warriors in Action to host five combat-wounded veterans for hunting and fishing trips during Veterans Day weekend.
“Our veterans contribute so much to our society, both in and out of uniform, and they make our communities better places to live,” she said.
Also in attendance Tuesday was U.S. Navy veteran W. Michael “Mike” Bowen of Seneca Falls, who was the 54th District inductee into the Hall of Fame in 2017. The event also included the Mynderse Academy chorus, which sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.”