Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly recently recognized 100 year-old former member of the United States Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Lillian Sharkey of Melville as his 2022 Suffolk County Women Veterans Appreciation Day honoree.
While working as a bank teller during the height of WWII, Lillian O’Brien, as she was known then, walked into a Naval recruiting station with her best friend and signed up to serve her country. After basic training in the Bronx, she went on to Walter Reed General Hospital to receive her nursing training. She then served at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in California, caring for wounded soldiers and was honorably discharged on June 7, 1946.
After the war and returning to Brooklyn, Ms. Sharkey worked as a nurse for a private doctor, later meeting her future husband John Sharkey, a fellow veteran, at the VA Hospital in Brooklyn. Since moving to Melville in 1972, she has been very active in the community, especially at the St. Elizabeth of Hungary RC Church in Melville, and now enjoys focusing on her growing family which includes her son, John Jr., daughter-in-law Nancy, her grandchildren and great-grandchild.
Legislator Donnelly thanked Ms. Sharkey for her service in person, joined by John Jr. and Nancy Sharkey, on June 10 when he presented her with a County Proclamation in front of their home. He further acknowledged and recognized her later that day during the Legislature’s Third Women Veterans Appreciation Day Virtual ceremony, held via Zoom.
“Lillian Sharkey served at a time when it was out of the ordinary for women to be in the military. It was incredible to hear her compelling stories and memories. A true trailblazer, she is an inspiration for all service people, both male and female, who came after her,” said Legislator Donnelly. “I am humbled and grateful to have met Lillian Sharkey and it was a privilege to honor her.”