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May 21, 2019 12:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach To Open Arma 'Ham' Andon Memorial Military Park At Village Marina

The Arma
May 21, 2019 4:23 PM

Officials from Westhampton Beach Village and American Legion Post 834 soon will unveil their latest project at the village marina: the Arma “Ham” Andon Memorial Military Park.

The park was built to honor veterans and active duty military personnel, especially the late Mr. Andon, the village’s local hero, as many called him, to whom the park is dedicated.

Because Mr. Andon was a World War II veteran, the memorial will feature six flags, one for each branch of the military that served in the war: the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Army and Coast Guard, as well as the Merchant Marines, an auxiliary to the Navy during the war.

The flagpoles will form a circle, and plaques accompanying each flag will display the emblem of that branch. The center of the circle will have a larger plaque honoring Mr. Andon and an American flag. Surrounding the flagpoles is a gravel walkway and six benches.

A dedication ceremony will take place on Memorial Day, May 27, at 11 a.m. at the site, located on the corner of Library Avenue and Stevens Lane.

An old ship’s anchor that occupied the spot was moved across the marina parking lot entrance.

Village and local American Legion officials will remove the muslin cloth covering Mr. Andon’s plaque to officially open the park. Members of different military branches will be in attendance, as well as the Westhampton Beach High School band, Village Mayor Maria Moore said.

Paul Haines, adjutant for the local American Legion post, who has been organizing the dedication ceremony, said that there will be several speakers, including Edward Cartowski, a former Marine Corps colonel and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350 in Westhampton.

“We want people to come, sit and be part and see the flags, respect what’s going on and feel good about the military,” said Tom Hadlock, commander of the American Legion Post 834. “We have many people in Westhampton Beach and the greater Westhampton area who served in the military.”

Along with his veteran status, Mr. Andon held many leadership roles within the community that made him a friend and mentor to many. He was the former village mayor from 1986 to 1994, longtime commander of the VFW Post 5350 and the American Legion Post 834, Westhampton Beach School Board president in the 1960s and commissioner of the village fire department for a decade.

Given his impressive resume, there was no objection to naming the park after him.

“We both wanted to have a dedication to Ham Andon,” the mayor said of the Village Board and the American Legion post. “He’s somewhat of a legend around here, and he devoted his entire life to public service. Locally, he’s a very important person in our community, and we wanted to honor him by putting a plaque at this military appreciation park for him.”

Mr. Haines and Bill Hughes, commander of the VFW Post 5350, both said that Mr. Andon was one of their mentors until he died in 2016. Mr. Andon also played a big role in Mr. Hadlock becoming commander of the American Legion post.

The idea to create the park came about several years ago, when Ms. Moore and other board members took a trip to Saratoga for a mayor’s conference. They saw a flag memorial and thought it would be a good idea to create something similar in the village, Ms. Moore said.

“We came home and told the other trustees and they were all for it,” the mayor recalled. “And we reached out to the VFW and the American Legion knowing that they would be supportive of the project and, really, the American Legion kind of ran with it.

Ms. Moore said that several donors helped the American Legion buy six of the seven flagpoles and the plaques, while the village paid for the rest and had its Department of Public Works conduct most of the work.

People can purchase one of the benches, to have it include a plaque, or pay to inscribe one of the paving stones once those are installed around the memorial and dedicate them to whomever they would like.

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