Mention Flavio Benini to those who knew him and they will list his significant accomplishments. These memories include his World War II service in the Philippines, in which he worked to detect landmines and was severely wounded. They also include a time in the 1950s, when as a Mount Kisco police officer, he pulled a woman out of a vehicle that was stuck on railroad tracks and was in danger of being hit by an oncoming train.
On Sunday at Mount Kisco’s American Legion hall, Benini was given the newest in a long list of honors: Being among more than two dozen added to state Sen. Greg Ball’s new Veterans Hall of Fame for the 40th senate district. Benini, who died last July at 95, was given the award posthumously.
Benini’s submitted biography lists an array of awards, including a silver star, two bronze stars, a purple heart, a Bronze Arrowhead and medals commemorating the liberation campaigns in the Philippines and in the war’s Pacific theater. He left the army with a captain’s rank and retired from the police department as a lieutenant.
“I only wish he was alive to see it,” Victoria Mantie, his daughter, said.
Robert Lipsky, who told reporters about Benini’s act on the train tracks and his military service, also noted that he introduced him to his future wife, who was a relative. Lipsky served a brief stint as a Mount Kisco officer and eventually became Tarrytown’s police chief.
“Flavio was more or less a role model for me,” Mayor Michael Cindrich told reporters. He cited Benini’s police career – Cindrich recently retired as a Mamaroneck Town Police lieutenant – and his involved at St. Francis of Assisi.
Also notable for the Mount Kisco area was the nomination of Eric Jones, Pound Ridge’s candidate. He was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. Cindrich noted that Jones was friends with his son – they attended Fox Lane High School together – and played on Mount Kisco’s youth football team, the Maroons.
“The price of freedom comes at the expense of a man like Eric Jones,” said Eugene Parrotta, a Vietnam veteran who was Croton-on-Hudson’s nominee for the district hall of fame. Parrotta was picked by Ball to be his nominee for a statewide hall of fame for veterans.
Jones’ deployment to Afghanistan came after two tours of duty in Iraq. A Marine captain, he piloted an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter during his Afghan tour. His military career included roughly five years of service, according to his biography.
The veterans hall of fame celebration included attendence from a series of those honored, along with a ribbon cutting of a celebratory wall.
In his remarks, Ball compared the experiences of veterans who returned from earlier wars, such as World War II and Korea, with those coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq. He noted that they paved the way for those returning today.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino addressed the attendees, and noted his own family’s line of veterans, including a cousin who served as a Marine in Iraq.
Astorino noted the importance of veterans in each of the roles they served.
“It was all interconnected,” he said.