2018-02-07 / Features

Robert Danke, Lifelong Astoria Resident, Was 93


Senator Gianaris Honors Astoria WWII Hero as Veteran’s Hall of Fame Inductee (Photo: Senator Gianaris with Robert Danke and family and friends, from right to left: Robert's son Bob, granddaughter Deanna, daughter in law Vicki, son Chris, wife Loretta, son John, and friend Tony Barsamian) Senator Gianaris Honors Astoria WWII Hero as Veteran’s Hall of Fame Inductee (Photo: Senator Gianaris with Robert Danke and family and friends, from right to left: Robert's son Bob, granddaughter Deanna, daughter in law Vicki, son Chris, wife Loretta, son John, and friend Tony Barsamian) Astoria resident Robert Danke passed away on February 3. Mr. Danke, 93, was a decorated veteran of World War II.

When he was just 17 years old, Danke wanted to fight for his country in WWII. Too young to enlist, Danke needed his father’s signature on a form granting him permission to do so. In fact, his dad would also enlist just a few months later, although he was 50 at the time.

Danke’s first taste of combat came on the beaches of Salerno, Italy, in September 1943. Platoon C-7 of the Naval Fourth Beach Battalion landed on Yellow Beach under heavy fire. As the battle raged, a landing craft became stranded, leaving two wounded Allied soldiers on board helpless. Danke swam out through a haze of bullets and brought his fellow members of the Allied forces back to safety; doctors from the scene say that he undoubtedly saved their lives. Danke served with distinction throughout WWII, spanning the European, African and Pacific theaters of war. Danke was among the first to land on the beaches of Italy and was at Okinawa when Japan surrendered. During the course of his service, he received the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart to commemorate wounds he sustained on the beach in Salerno.


Inset: Denke as a young serviceman. Inset: Denke as a young serviceman. “He is a true American hero and his service to the nation brings pride to his community. We gratefully thank him for his contributions to Queens, to New York City and to our country,” NYS Senator Michael Gianaris said during a ceremony honoring Danke in 2013.

After his time in the service, Danke returned to Astoria and worked as a bartender and also for the phone company.

On May 21, 2013 Danke was honored in Albany as part of the newly created Veteran’s Hall of Fame.

“I’m really honored that they are putting me in there, and I am very glad to have been selected,” Danke told the Gazette.

Danke, who lived on 43rd Street near 35th Avenue, was a lifelong resident of Astoria, along with his wife, Loretta.

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