Community celebrates Whitestone war hero with newly co-named street

(Photo by Dominick Totino)

On the 77th anniversary of D-Day, the Whitestone community gathered to commemorate a longtime resident and World War II veteran with a street named in his honor.

Councilman Paul Vallone hosted the street co-naming at the intersection of 156th Street and Cryder’s Lane, which was unveiled as Corporal John McHugh Way. McHugh lived in Whitestone from 1955 until his death in 2019.

“I am honored to be able to unveil a memorial to a local man who was truly a hero. Corporal John McHugh was the epitome of bravery, and truly emblematic of what it meant to be a part of the Greatest Generation on the 77th anniversary of D-Day,” Vallone said. “This will stand to remind future generations of the sacrifice and courage of Corporal McHugh and ensure that his legacy endures.”

First Vice Commander of the 101st Post of the American Legion Joseph Panzardi. (Photo by Dominick Totino)

Back in 2019, the City Council unanimously approved Vallone’s proposed legislation to co-name the street but the spring 2020 ceremony was held off due to COVID-19.

During his time in the U.S. Army, McHugh fought during some of the most gruesome battles as part of the First Infantry Division, which was formed in 1917 during World War I. His accomplishments included storming Omaha Beach during the early stages of the liberation of France and the battles of Aachen, Hurtgen Forest, Crucifix Hill, the Bulge and Normandy.

The late Whitestone resident was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal seven months after World War II ended.

(Photo by Dominick Totino)

“Two years ago, I had the honor to attend the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy as part of a Congressional Delegation. Before traveling to France, I met with John McHugh at his home in Whitestone. As we spoke, Corporal John McHugh vividly described the ‘chaos and hell’ of that pivotal day in 1944,” Congressman Tom Suozzi said. “CPL. John McHugh Way will serve as a reminder to all who pass down his street of the service and sacrifice of our ‘Greatest Generation.'”

For his service and valor, the Army awarded McHugh with the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the European Theatre of Operations ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge and two Presidential Unit Citations. Belgium honored McHugh with a Fort Eger badge.

Left to right: Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, CB 7 board member and nephew of the honoree Kevin Shields, Councilman Paul Vallone. (Photo by Dominick Totino)

Back at home, McHugh was inducted in the state Senate’s Veterans Hall of Fame in 2014 and was also honored at the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade. In 2019, he was the grand marshal of the Whitestone Memorial Day Parade.

“It is an honor and a privilege to join Councilman Vallone, the McHugh family, and the Whitestone community in commemorating the life of a true American hero, World War II veteran Corporal John McHugh. Corporal McHugh risked everything when he volunteered for service and fought valiantly with Allied forces at the Battle of Normandy 77 years ago. Co-naming the street in front of his Whitestone home as ‘Cpl. John McHugh Way’ will ensure that his spirit, valor and patriotism will be remembered for generations to come,” Assemblyman Edward Braunstein said.