This year this VFW Post also lost its longtime commander, Ham Andon, who died peacefully at home one month short of his 98th birthday.
Andon was a highly decorated World War II veteran, who earned two Purple Hearts with Cluster, a Bronze Star with Cluster, a Presidential Unit Citation, the Austrian Medal of Honor and the French President’s Legion of Honor Medal.
At age 25, Andon, as the captain and company Commander of the 328th Infantry Combat Team, landed on Utah Beach in Normandy in 1944. They were sent to the front lines and immediately came under fire. They lost their covering fire when tanks sent to support them became stuck in the mud. The unit lost many men & after a lieutenant was killed, Andon took over a machine gun to return fire.
Later in March 1945, Andon was badly wounded in Germany when his unit was under heavy enemy bombardment. He sustained injuries in his abdomen, leaving an open gash in his stomach & shattered both his left knee and leg. Despite these wounds, Ham continued to fight and lead his men. Remnants of shrapnel stayed lodged in his abdomen and his leg was a mess. Injuries that he would carry with him for the rest of his life.
After a successful career in New York City media, Andon had an 8 year stint as the 16th mayor of Westhampton Beach, and served two years as a trustee. In addition to volunteering with the Westhampton Beach Fire Department for half a century, he was one of the first people appointed fire commissioner and served in that position for more than a decade.
He is one of the last of a dying breed of hero. His presence will be missed.