Oct. 29, 2019 By Allie Griffin
The corner of 31st Avenue and 41st Street in Astoria was officially co-named “Staff Sergeant Rocco Moretto Way” earlier this month in honor of the late World War II veteran who led the neighborhood’s local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.
The longtime Astoria resident died last August at 94 years old after a life of involvement in several local veterans groups including the VFW Post 2348 in Astoria that was renamed in his honor six years ago.
Moretto was drafted to the U.S. Army in 1943 and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, a frontline force its members dubbed the “Big Red One.” He was one of just two soldiers in a 219-man combat unit not killed, wounded or captured during a grueling 11-month tour through Western Europe.
He landed at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 as part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy France and later lead troops through the Battle of the Bulge along the border in Belgium.
By the time the war ended on May 8, 1945, Moretto had made it all the way to Czechoslovakia. In 2004, he was awarded France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor Award, for his bravery liberating Nazi Germany.
Staff Sgt. Moretto returned home the year after he was discharged and worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, what’s now Amtrack, for 40 years before retiring in 1985.
He served on the United War Veterans Council of New York as well as post commander of American Legion Post 6 and the VFW Post 2348, located at 31-35 41st St between Broadway and 31st Avenue.
“Staff Sergeant Rocco Moretto put his life on the line during World War II in the fight for freedom because he always did what was right,” Council Member Costa Constantinides said at the co-naming ceremony.
“He never stopped hearing that call of duty, and continued to serve his community from the moment he came home until his passing last year. His legacy will live on this corner as a reminder of the sacrifice so many have made in the name of freedom.”
The council member was joined by members of the Rocco Moretto VFW Post 2348 and local residents who unveiled the new street sign at a ceremony honoring Moretto’s legacy on Oct. 18.
“Rocco Moretto lived every single day of his life with integrity. He strived to live up to his division motto: ‘No mission too difficult. No sacrifice too great. Duty first,’” said VFW 2348 Member Katina Tsahalis. “He was our hero, our mentor, and most importantly our friend.”