In Old Saybrook: Sen. Linares Honors Memory of WWII Vet [Hartford Courant]

September 11, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

OLD SAYBROOK — At the Estuary Council senior center, Nicholas Kiako was known for leading the Pledge of Allegiance each day before lunch, a ritual he performed faithfully for 20 years.

“Nick was very, very patriotic,” said the senior center’s executive director, Paula Ferrara. “He was proud of his country.”

A combat-wounded Korean War veteran, Kiako, of Old Saybrook, received the Combat Infantry Badge and other medals for his service during the assault of Heartbreak Ridge in Korea by the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division.

He didn’t make a big deal about his war service, which earned him multiple Purple Hearts. But when he died in June, at 85, his friends at the senior center remembered. In front of his handicapped parking space, they stuck two flags in the ground.

Today, a much bigger flag will be hoisted over the Estuary senior center as a lasting tribute to the decorated soldier and beloved resident.

“You can’t say enough about the dedication of Mr. Kiako, not only to his community, but to his country,” said state Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, who will be reading a proclamation at a dedication ceremony for center’s new flagpole in honor of Kiako. The ceremony takes place at 5 p.m. at the center at 220 Main St. Linares will be joined by state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, R-Old Saybrook, along with First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna.

“We wanted to honor his memory, and we thought what better way than to dedicate the new flagpole on Sept. 11,” Ferrara said.

Ferrara said Kiako was a fixture at the senior center for decades, where he could be seen each day shooting pool with his friends and playing cards. He also promptly rose to his feet every day in the cafeteria before lunch to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Nick did this every day,” Ferrara said. “He was a beloved member of the Estuary center who will be greatly missed.”

Kiako, who was born in Bridgeport on Oct. 11, fought on the front lines in Korea, and was also awarded the U.N. Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and the Bronze Star.

After the war, he became manager of several A&P stores in Bridgeport, eventually moving to Old Saybrook, where he lived for 50 years. He was an avid fisherman and looked forward each summer to taking his grandchildren to the beach.

Ferrara said Kiako’s son, James Nicholas Kiako, an Old Saybrook police officer, will be saying a few words about his father, along with his granddaughter, Tiffany

Ferrara said the first flag to be hoisted up Wednesday is one that flew over the U.S. Capitol when Kiako died in June. It was donated to the family by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney.

“After the ceremony, the flag will be given to the family,” Ferrara said. “Then, we plan to raise an even bigger flag.”