STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - ROSSVILLE - A true-blue patriot, Jordan T. Czerniawski fought for his country in the Korean War. And long after his active-duty days were over, he pledged his time to local veterans while remaining a fixture in the community as an upstanding individual.
Czerniawski was honored by state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) earlier this month with a nomination into the New York State Veterans' Hall of Fame.
The Rossville resident's wife of 59 years, Phyllis, accepted the honor on his behalf.
Czerniawski, 79, passed away last December.
The Hall of Fame was created to honor and recognize outstanding veterans in New York who have distinguished themselves both in military and civilian life.
"Jordan's service and life was the embodiment of American greatness," said Lanza.
Each state senator nominated a veteran from his or her district. A total of 62 of them were enshrined in the Legislative Office Building on June 14. Ten Staten Islanders, including Czerniawski's wife, three children and their families, attended the event.
"It's really unbelievable," said his daughter, Vanessa Fauquier. "My father would've been beside himself. He would have been so proud and so honored to have been there and have seen the respect that Senator Lanza exhibited of my mother and the rest of us that were there."
The Brooklyn native was born in February of 1931. He came to Staten Island, settling in Rossville, in 1985.
Drafted in December 1951, just a year after marrying his neighborhood sweetheart, Czerniawski entered the Army on Jan. 10, 1952 and headed to Fort Dix for training, said his biography, which is available at www.nysenate.gov/story/jordan-czerniawski.
Czerniawski shipped out to Korea in September 1952 to join the Korean War.
Overseas, Czerniawski was promoted to platoon sergeant of the 223rd Infantry Regiment of the 40th Division. It fell to him to keep his troop of 20 men physically fit, up-to-date on their weapons and familiar with security practices, like listening posts and patrols.
Czerniawski was discharged as a sergeant on Oct. 23, 1953.
His service was rewarded with a half dozen medals, including the Korean War Veteran Ambassador for Peace Medal and the Combat Infantryman's Badge, of which he was most proud.
In June of 2000, Czerniawski was honored with a medal from the Korean Ambassador during a ceremony at the Korean War Veteran Memorial in Manhattan's Battery Park.
He was commander of Blazing Star Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Travis, and a former chaplain and first vice-president of Cpl. Allan F. Kivlehan Chapter, Korean War Veterans of America, Arden Heights.
Czerniawski was a familiar figure at veterans' events throughout Staten Island. He devoted much of his time and energy to visiting schools, where he spoke to students about the war in Korea and recounted his experiences.
"He loved getting the word out there about the veterans," said his daughter.
Always proud to march in parades on Staten Island, he thought it was important to let people know that veterans are still around. Just last year, he marched in the 100th Travis Fourth of July Parade.
He also spent hours volunteering at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Brooklyn, helping out in the pharmacy department and visiting wounded and ill veterans.
Through his efforts, Lanza and Czerniawski developed a strong relationship, added Mrs. Fauquier. The elected official even attended the Rossville man's funeral last year.
Czerniawski was employed for more than 20 years as a supervisor for the city Transit Authority, assigned to the Coney Island subway yards in Brooklyn. He retired from the Authority in 1987 and later became a sales representative for William S. Archer Auto Supplies in West Brighton until retiring from there in 2005.
Czerniawski enjoyed fishing, photography, sketching, communicating with veterans and friends on his computer, and spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren.
"Everybody loved him. He had a smile and a joke for everybody that he met. He had a corny sense of humor, but everybody appreciated it," said his daughter. "He's missed by a lot of people."