Lawrence P. Belmont


Lawrence P. Belmont, a long-time resident of Cliffside Park, Cornwall-on-Hudson, died on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 at Emerald Peek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Peekskill after a brief illness. He was two weeks shy of his 98th birthday.

Born on Nov. 18, 1923, in Walton, the son of Samuel and Angelina (Cicale) Belmont, Lawrence graduated from Walton High School in 1942, where he was a star basketball and football player.

A child of the Great Depression, Lawrence held numerous odd jobs as a youth, delivering the news for a penny a paper, recycling metal, working in several restaurants, and changing the letters on the marquee of Smalley’s Walton Movie Theatre rain or shine. It is said that he taught his entire high school class how to drive Walton’s backroads and main streets in his Model T truck.

Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, he served with the 225th Antiaircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion as they fought their way from Omaha Beach across France and Belgium and deep into Germany during World War II. He received four battle stars for the battalion’s campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, and Central Europe. The 225th used their searchlights and then - top secret radar sets to establish over 2,000 light canopies and homing beacons, saving an estimated 4,000 Allied aircraft and their crews in darkness and bad weather. By war’s end they were also credited with downing 36 enemy aircraft, including two V-1 buzz bombs. In the summer of 1945, Lawrence was one of a cadre sent to Paris to illuminate the Eiffel Tower with a battery of the unit’s 800-million-candlepower searchlights. For his service, Lawrence was awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Victory in Europe Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal, and the U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal.

Following his discharge in 1945, Lawrence returned to Walton, where he was a member of Truman C. Tobey American Legion Post 32, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 270, and the Walton Veterans Club. He re-enlisted in the U.S Army in 1948, and was stationed in Germany, where he met his future wife, Olga Hanel. They were married in Bad Mergentheim, Germany, in March 1952. After his discharge from the army, Lawrence joined the U.S. Air Force in 1953, serving at Sampson Air Force Base (Geneva, N.Y.), Chateauroux Air Station (France), Langley Air Force Base (Hampton, Va.), Ramstein Air Force Base (Germany), and Ellsworth Air Force Base (Rapid City, S.D.). At each station, he rose steadily up the ranks of the food service squadrons to which he was assigned. At Ramstein, his dining hall was consistently commended for its superior food and restaurant-like atmosphere. From cakes decorated with model planes lined up on butter icing runways complete with candy bar control towers, to giant murals depicting scenes of the surrounding area painted by a local artist, Lawrence’s Dining Hall No. 1 was the talk of the 17th Air Force. At Ellsworth, he supervised the flight-line mess hall that served meals just off the tarmac to the B-52 crews of the Strategic Air Command’s 28th Bomb Wing, airmen that were charged with flying over the United States 24 hours a day and seven days a week during the Cold War. Mike Mansfield, then a U.S. Senator from Montana and frequent visitor to Ellsworth, preferred Lawrence’s “scramble” mess hall to the main one simply because the food was better, as was the view: usually of massive Stratofortresses parked just yards away. Lawrence retired from military service as a Tech Sergeant in August 1966. While in the USAF, he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Good Conduct Medal (twice).

A civilian for good this time, Lawrence moved back to Walton, and then on to Orlando, Fla. and Walden, before settling down in Cornwall-on-Hudson in June 1969. He worked as a chef/supervisor at the Cadet Mess at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, retiring in 1983 after 15 years of service. He spent his retirement rooting for the Yankees, Knicks, and Jets, watching movies, sitcoms, and political talk shows, and reading the history of the turbulent century into which he was born (“I finally found out where the heck I was during the war.”). He enjoyed reading several newspapers from front to back each morning and worked on his computer well into his 90s. He enjoyed listening to the music of the 1930s and 1940s. He rolled his own meatballs and made Wienerschnitzel regularly, a testament to his Italian heritage and a touchstone to his many years spent in Germany.

A frequent attendee of reunions of his former World War II unit, “The Skylighters,” Lawrence never squandered a chance to regale the children and grandchildren of his comrades-in-arms in attendance with tales about the unit’s oft-colorful exploits in Europe. He was a passionate proponent of telling the Latest Generation about the Greatest Generation.

Lawrence was predeceased by his wife, Olga M. (Hanel) Belmont; two brothers, Samuel Belmont Jr. and John C. Belmont; and a sister, Virginia R. Myers.

Survivors include one son, Larry M. Belmont (Elizabeth) of Blue Point, Long Island.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. today, Wednesday, Nov. 10, at St. Thomas of Canterbury Church, 340 Hudson Street, Cornwall-On-Hudson. Interment with full military honors will follow at St. Thomas Cemetery, Cornwall. There will be no visitation.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association ( 

Arrangements are entrusted to Quigley-Sullivan Funeral Home, Inc., Cornwall-on-Hudson.