The Westhampton Free Library honored Emil Mollik, a Vietnam veteran, as a Hometown Hero on Saturday, January 19.
The ceremony was held at the Westhampton Beach Fire Department and attended by fellow veterans, library representatives, and public officials. Mollik, of Speonk, was presented with a proclamation and an American flag.
The library’s Hometown Heroes initiative honors local veterans from the American Legion on a monthly basis.
“It is so important to honor our local veterans,” Danielle Waskiewicz, the library director, said. “They made many sacrifices and deserve to be thanked.”
Mollik, born in 1943, grew up in Flanders and attended Riverhead High School, from which he graduated in 1962 as senior class president. Following school, he worked at Northrop Grumman as an engineering aide, but enlisted in the army for a three-year stint when he was 20 years old in March 1964, just prior to any troops being sent to Vietnam.
“I wanted an adventure,” Mollik said.
After weeks of training, Mollik served in the 11th Air Assault Division. Mollik was sent to Vietnam in August 1965. He served in the First Air Cavalry as a helicopter gunner at the Quinn Yan airfield in the Northern Highlands of Vietnam. He was then sent to an air field in An Khe to fly numerous missions as well as drop off and pick up ammunition and supplies for 10 months.
Mollik said he remembers the beauty of the country most about that period. He also was baptized in a French church while in Vietnam, which he called an “amazing” experience. Following his tour in Vietnam, Mollik returned to the U.S. and continued to serve at Fort Belvoir, VA, where he delivered supplies, until his discharge from the service in March 1967.
He returned to Grumman, where he worked for 32 years before retiring. Today, Mollik spends his days hiking or taking classes at his local library. He also spends time at the senior center in Flanders, where he dances cha-cha, ballroom, and country. He recently joined the American Legion and VFW posts in Westhampton Beach. He also has a close relationship with his two daughters, Lynn and Kristina.