U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Meyerowitz of Levittown joined the military in 1962, enlisting straight out of high school. While he would never see combat, Meyerowitz served as a boilerman aboard the U.S.S. Dewey amid the United States’ blockade of Cuba.
“They gave us our orders,” Meyerowitz said, “turn any vessels away. If not, blow ‘em out of the water.”
During the blockade, Meyerowitz said he only encountered one ship, which they warned to turn back. Just a kid at the time, Meyerowitz said it didn’t occur to him at the time, how the country could have been on the verge of nuclear war.
While aboard the Dewey, Meyerowitz and his shipmates encountered rough waters when Hurricane Flora hit the region, dealing a devastating blow to Haiti. “You couldn’t even walk,” Meyerowitz said. “we couldn’t serve hot meals.”
But his experience at sea was not all as negative. In 1965, while aboard the U.S.S. Dewey, Meyerowitz witnessed an historic event as the Gemini 2, the first two-man space satellite made its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Working pick-up detail with the fleet, Meyerowitz said that once the capsule splashed down, the Admiral ordered an aircraft carrier to scoop it up. “We had to have a special rigging, because we couldn’t just leave the astronauts in the ocean,” he explained.
Before returning home in 1965, Meyerowitz was set up on a double-date through one of his shipmates, who would later become his brother-in-law when the two eventually wed in 1966. “We’ve been together ever since,” he said.
First moving to Flushing, Queens, Meyerowitz would attend school for five years to become a union plumber in New York City. Eventually, Meyerowitz and his beau would have two children, and in 1971, decided to move to Levittown.
“I didn’t want to go too far from work,” Meyerowitz stated as his reason for buying his Levitt ranch style home at the time.
Now, retired from his job as a plumber, Meyerowitz said that apart from spending time with his five grandchildren, he enjoys helping veterans by volunteering with the American Legion Post #1711 in Levittown. Among the many helpful programs that the American Legion provides, Meyerowitz said every year he helps collect and distribute food for veterans who can’t afford it.
Serving as the American Legion Post’s 3rd Vice Commander, Meyerowitz said his obligations include overseeing the Legion’s scholarship program, marching with the color guard in the Memorial and Veterans Day parades, and visiting local schools to teach children the history and etiquette of the American flag.