William Costello was a reluctant hero. His family said the WWII veteran rarely spoke about the war, even though he received a Purple Heart and several medals for his bravery, but it’s a big part of his legacy. The 95 year old died at a nursing home after testing positive for the coronavirus.
“He always felt that the other men who he was in the army with, who didn’t survive, were the real heroes,” his daughter Lynda Stewart said.
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Costello was drafted at 18. He landed in Utah Beach during the D-Day Invasion of Normandy as a rifleman in the Army’s 4th Infantry 20th Armored Division. He received the Purple Heart after he suffered a head injury while fighting in the Hurtgen Forest on the German-Belgian border in 1944. After receiving an honorable discharge, he joined the Navy in 1946.
“He tried working and he just felt that he needed to go back and help his country,” Lynda told NY1.
After leaving military service, he returned to Flushing Queens, where he was born and raised, to grow his own family. He worked in construction, helping to build tunnels and bridges like the Throggs Neck.
He lived in the neighborhood up until November when his family moved him to a nursing home.
His daughter said he died nearly two weeks after doctors told them he had recovered from the virus.
“He started to have some low-grade fever‘s and some trouble breathing,” Lynda said.
After his death, Costello received a posthumous proclamation from State Senator John Liu for his dedication to service. He was a member of the Bowne Park Civic Association and the Whitestone VFW 4787 where he previously served as Commander.
“He was always there for anybody who needed him,” Lynda added.
Costello, we’re told, was a serious, but very warm man, who was the heart of the family. He leaves behind his two daughters, five grandchildren, a great grandchild and his wife Josephine of 61 years.