In its ongoing mission to honor a local veteran each month of the school year, Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to John Lenihan by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of November.
“The district is proud to honor Mr. Lenihan for his bravery and service to the United States,” Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen said.
As part of the annual Veterans Day breakfast and ceremony held Wednesday, November 7 at Hampton Bays Elementary School, fourth-grade students read Lenihan’s biography, spoke about the importance of Veterans Day and sang the songs from the armed forces’ five branches.
Born in Astoria, Queens in March 1948, Lenihan moved with his family to Commack at the age of 10. In July 1966, the year after graduating from Commack High School, he joined the U.S. Air Force and underwent basic training in Amarillo, Texas. After completing basic training—a feat made more challenging by the brutal Texas heat—he began aircraft mechanic technical training and was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. There, he worked on EB66-C aircraft, which provided cover in the form of electronic counter measures for U.S. fighter planes and bombers.
In June 1968, Lenihan was transferred to a U.S. air base in Japan to respond to the hijacking of the USS Pueblo, where EB66-C planes he worked on were used to patrol the skies off the coast of North Korea. In May the following year, he was transferred again, this time to an air base in Thailand to support U.S. F-105 bombers flying missions over Vietnam.
In April 1970, Lenihan left the Air Force and returned home. He worked as a service manager at General Tire before landing his long-term career as a Suffolk County police officer in 1972. During the next 21 years, Lenihan served as a plainclothes officer, then highway patrol officer and ultimately as a detective. In 1976, not long into his law enforcement career, he earned his college degree from New York Institute of Technology.
After retiring from the police department, Lenihan attended St. John’s University to obtain a degree in security administration. He then worked in corporate security for Equitable Life Insurance, Bank One and JP Morgan Chase. His responsibilities included security operations, fraud investigations and security for more than 60 bank branches in Suffolk County.
Lenihan married his high school sweetheart, Geri, in 1967. Together, they have two sons, Thomas and Michael; a daughter, Tracy; and three grandchildren, Ryan, Casey and Kiarra. He and his wife also enjoy their two dogs, Quincy and Riley. He has been a Hampton Bays resident for the last nine years.
In 2015, Lenihan began working as a bus driver for the Town of Southampton’s Senior Services Department, assisting senior citizens to their medical appointments. In addition, he is an active member of the American Legion Post 924.