He’s a hero, not an enigma. Michael Feeney’s past service in a code-breaking unit that helped topple the Nazis went largely unknown to his own family members until recently. Now the World War II veteran is anonymous and unappreciated no longer.
Ahead of President’s Day weekend, the 92-year-old Bay Shore man received an American flag from a Long Island congressman and proclamation from the Suffolk County Legislature during a bedside visit Friday at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.
US Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Suffolk County Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) paid their respects to Mr. Feeney in the hospital Friday while he recovers from a recent fall.
“I don’t deserve it,” Mr. Feeney told a gathering a family, dignitaries and reporters. “I did my part, but I thank you so much recognizing what we did. Maybe some people will understand what the Enigma program was.”
The cracking of the German Enigma machine allowed the Allies to anticipate the Nazis’ every move and helped win the war. Its importance was highlighted in the recent Oscar-winning film “The Imitation Game.”
“You deserve every bit and more, Mr. Feeney,” said Mr. Cilmi, triggering applause.
Niece Eileen Paradiso, of East Islip, reached out to the legislator, who in turn worked with Rep. King to surprise Mr. Feeney with an overdue honor.
“We only found out recently about Uncle Mike’s role in the war,” said Ms. Paradiso. “And I thought, ‘What can we do for Uncle Mike to perk him up?’”
Mr. Feeney was happy and humbled. So were the people who crowded into the hospital room to wish this member of the Greatest Generation a job well done.
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