Thursday, April 03, 2008

Hero Honored

Northport street to be named for fallen Marine

The Brothers

Joseph Boccia, third from left, with brothers Ray, Rich and Jim.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 23, 1983, while soldiers were sleeping, a truck stocked with explosives was driven into the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, by a terrorist.

The suicide mission claimed the lives of 241 military personnel and seriously wounded countless others who were in Lebanon on a peacekeeping mission.

Twenty five years later, the incident is being referred to by the Beirut Veterans of America as, "the first battle of terrorism" and the group's motto is . . . . "The First Duty Is to Remember."

Capt. Joseph J. Boccia Jr., a Marine from Northport, lost his life in the attack, and keeping true to the veteran's motto, will be remembered in a ceremony later this month.

Starlit Drive, a street that he grew up on, will be named in his honor.

A family friend and Northport police chief, Ric Bruckenthal, is responsible for getting the job done. He contacted the Huntington Town Board saying he thought it would be a good idea to remember "all of our fallen."

"The Town was very receptive to the idea," Bruckenthal said, "this wasn't a big petition, I didn't have to beat them over the head, they were just very receptive."

The board approved the renaming at a meeting on March 18, voting to change the street name to "Captain Joseph J. Boccia Jr./Starlit Drive." A date has not be set yet for the renaming ceremony

Bruckenthal, who lost his son in 2004 in Iraq and is neighbors with Boccia's brother Raymond, knows how much "things like this helps the family."

A graduate of Syracuse University and also a member of the ROTC, Boccia joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1978, graduating from Parris Island in South Carolina, where he was the recipient of the USMC Achievement Devotion Award, which distinguished him as the outstanding man of Platoon 1142. He was deployed to Beirut as part of a peacekeeping force.

According to Bruckenthal, "the people on the block won't have to change their address, adding Captain Boccia's name is symbolic."