Family members and colleagues celebrate life dedicated to serving his country.
May 4, 2011 12:16 pm ET | Updated May 8, 2011 9:44 pm ET
A quarter century ago, Robert J. Bestercy enrolled in the United States Navy. Growing up in Kings Park in a military family, it felt like the right thing to do.
“It wasn’t really a question of if I was going to serve,” Bestercy said. “It was a matter of when.”
After 25 years of service, Bestercy, who rose to the rank of captain, recently retired from the Navy. Forty family members and 110 military friends and co-workers attended his retirement ceremony earlier this month. He was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal, which recognizes exceptional service and impact on the armed forces of the United States.
Bestercy’s among a sizable crew of family members who served their country. His father and brother Matt each served in the Navy, and his brother John and uncle Jim enlisted in the Army. Additionally, Bestercy, who attended Fort Salonga Elementary School, William T. Rogers Junior High and graduated from St. Anthony’s High School in 1982, always marched in the Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades either with the school band or with the Little League.
“We always marched in front of the Veterans Memorial, and there were veterans in the parades,” Bestercy said. “The town itself was pretty patriotic.”
After Bestercy graduated from SUNY Stony Brook, he went to Officer Candidates School for the Navy in 1986. Following a commissioning program, he was assigned to a ship in Newport, R.I. He enjoyed his deployment and accepted another set of orders. From there he became a career Navy officer.
Bestercy served on three ships – the U.S.S. Miller, the U.S.S. Benfold and the U.S.S. Saipan. He served in a number of roles in Navy logistics where he was managing supplies and repair posts for the U.S. Navy. His final job was as chief financial officer for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
“The Navy allowed me to build a set of skills that could allow me to have a positive impact,” Bestercy said. “One of my goals going in was to positively impact the nation. In the jobs I held, I was able to achieve that goal through the course of my career.”
After having lived all over the country with his wife, Diane, and their two daughters, Victoria and Genevieve, and after traveling all over the world, he feels a great sense of pride when he talks about his hometown of Kings Park.
“It’s a small town,” he said fondly. “What’s nice about Kings Park is a family can make an impact.”
And that’s just what Captain Bestercy’s family did. His parents had moved to Kings Park in the 1950s. His dad set up a dental practice on Main Street with Bestercy’s uncle, James.
“If you asked 10 people in Kings Park who their dentist was when they were a kid, six or seven would say my father or my uncle,” Bestercy said.
Both of his parents were active in St. Joseph’s Church, and his father presided on the school board for 12 years.
“Having put eight kids through the school system, that was a smart idea,” Bestercy said.
The military was very much a family affair for the Bestercys, which is appropriate in an area in which everyone seems to know everyone’s name.
“What’s nice about Kings Park is there are families with a deep history in town,” he said. “You could go to the Fireman’s Fair or a Little League game and see the same last names of people your parents were friends with.”