Each year Senators from across the state induct local veterans into the Senate Veterans’ Halls of Fame, and this year, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. has selected Glendale resident Michael O’Kane as his 2018 inductee.
O’Kane was born in Brooklyn in 1948, and enlisted in the United States Navy in 1966 where attended the Great Lakes “Boot” Camp before being assigned to the USS Implicit. While serving on Implicit, O’Kane was deployed to WestPac; and participated in Operation “Market Time,” which was the most successful counter-insurgency operation of the Vietnam War.
After serving on Implicit, O’Kane was transferred to the USS Widgen, which ported in Sasebo, Japan. Widgeon was deployed to Camranh Bay, RVN, and operated with I.U.W.G.-1 in Operation “Market Time.” Widgeon earned the Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the U.S. Navy Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, and Meritorious Unit Citation for engaging the enemy several times in firefights along the various rivers and canals in the RVN.
In honor of his service, O’Kane was awarded the National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal (with three campaign stars), Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, and the Meritorious Unit Citation. He left the United States Navy in 1970 after achieving the rank of Petty Officer Third Class, and began a distinguished career with New York Telephone, retiring in 1998.
O’Kane continues to be very active in his community as a member of Queens Community Board 5. Until recently, he led the Vietnam Veterans of America Queens Chapter 32, serving as a strong advocate for other former military members. He has worked especially hard to ensure that indigent veterans of all eras and conflicts are provided proper burials. To date, Chapter 32 has worked with local Hess-Miller Funeral Home to ensure dignified final resting places for 127 veterans.
“Mike O’Kane has served his country, his community, and his fellow veterans for many years,” Addabbo said. “From seeing combat in the Vietnam War, to fighting for his local community, to making sure veterans who passed on without any known living relatives have proper military burials, Mike has exemplified what it means to serve. He is certainly deserving of being inducted into the Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame.”
O’Kane married his best friend, Cathy, in 1979, and they live in Glendale, with their two cats, Yuki and Tuck.