George M. DeRosa grew up in Astoria, Queens. He attended William Cullen Bryant High School graduating in 1950. Shortly thereafter, Mr. DeRosa enlisted in the United States Navy during the Korean War. He attended basic training at the United States Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, Maryland. After basic training, he was assigned to USS Atka (AGB-3), a U.S. Navy icebreaker.
As a Storekeeper on the USS Atka, Mr. DeRosa’s responsibilities included the purchasing and procurement of food, emergency equipment, and foul weather clothing. The USS Atka’s primary responsibility was to provide icebreaking and escort services to support the annual resupply of remote northern Artic bases, such as the Strategic Air Command installation in Thule, Greenland. In the early 1950s, Thule would periodically serve as a dispersal base for B-36 Peacemaker and B-47 Stratojet missions.
During Mr. DeRosa’s summer deployment to the Artic, the USS Atka encountered ice fields ranging from 8 to 10 feet thick. The USS Atka would break the ice fields and the supply vessels would need to follow the ship’s wake or risk getting locked in the ice. Throughout the day, they would encounter average temperatures of 25 degrees below zero and 50 degrees below zero at night.
After his time on the USS Atka, Mr. DeRosa served on the USS San Pablo (AGS-30) and the USS Great Sitkin (AE-17). By the time Mr. DeRosa was discharged in 1955 with the rank of Petty Officer First Class, he had traveled the world and been to Greenland, Canada, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, England, Germany, and Sweden. The Navy’s slogan when Mr. DeRosa joined was “Join the Navy and see the world.” He certainty saw his fair share of it.
After his military service, Mr. DeRosa used his GI Bill to attend St. John’s University. After obtaining his college degree, he began a 37-year career with The New York Life Insurance Company. Initially, he worked in sales and sales management, but by the end of his career was the Director of Compliance for the company.
During his time with The New York Life Insurance Company, Mr. DeRosa moved to Hillsdale, New Jersey with Joan, his wife. Over the years, he has volunteered within his community. He has served as a local school board member and has been involved with the Hillsdale Historical Society, Meals on Wheels, English as a Second Language program, and with American Legion, Post 162 in Hillsdale.
As an American Legion member for 35 years, he has served as the Post Grand Marshal and Post Commander. He has also won the prestigious Legionnaire of the Year award for his leadership and efforts in constantly recruiting new members for Post 162.
Most recently, Mr. DeRosa was honored by Congressman Josh Gottheimer as a New Jersey Fifth District Hero for his community service. Currently, he resides in Hillsdale with his wife of 61 years. They have a son, daughter, daughter-in-law, and 2 grandchildren.
Thank you for your service to our county and nation, Mr. DeRosa.
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The Division of Veterans Services was established in 1977 to provide resident veterans and their dependents with information and assistance in obtaining earned entitlements from federal, state, and local governments, as well as any that are available from the private sector.
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