The Youakim Story




From the Tragedy of War


The Pete Youakim story is one of great triumph born out of the great personal tragedy of Pete becoming a cripple from a bomb blast in his fox hole somewhere in the Pacific. I would like to have more specific information about where and when it happened but even Al his brother couldn't seem to recall when I spoke to him in 2005. Carl Padovano, Jr. seemed to recall a place or island called Bund but he wasn't sure.

I and countless other people after the war as time past in the 1960's and 1970's Pete was known as the guy who got crippled in the War and he lived in an old gray house by the RT.4 ext. at the end of main street almost on the highway. I remember seeing him in Lido 's a lot but I don't remember what he looked like. I was young and parents tend to not let you stare or ask questions about why or how such things happen and so few people new.

Pete Youakim's courage and perseverance encouraged his brother Al to start a wheelchair Basketball team. They started a team called the Jersey Wheelers and from there it turned into a World Wide organization.

Peter Youakim has three brothers Al, Dan, and Bill all four brother's names are on the Wall Unit. You may be asking why, am I writing about Pete when it is Albert Youakim who passed away and it is his obituary story which is on display. Albert Youakim saw the treasure of strength and joy that can be gained by helping those people to reach there full potential when struggling with various disabilities. Alberts story is the story of the one who was blessed by those he helped and when I spoke to him in 2005 he said:
“This is what I was put on this earth to do.”

In the fall of 1972 Hackensack High School Pete McDowell was crippled in a football game while making a tackle against Passaic Valley . Carl Padovano suggested Pete McDowell should get involved with Al Youakim and the Jersey Wheelers. I was a close friend of Pete and suggested it and he just tossed the idea aside. Twenty years later I visited Pete who lived in Maywood, and he told me how much respect he had for Albert Youakim since he got involved with the Basketball team. I asked Albert Youkim if he remembered Pete McDowell and he said, “Oh, Yes Pete was a tough one to crack boy he was stubborn. ”

I was very close to Pete McDowell and for him to give a heartfelt compliment to Albert Youakim is high praise indeed for he kept so much of his feelings inside.

Four Brothers go off to war Albert, Daniel, and William return safely, Peter returns paralyzed.
struggles and overcomes his disability Albert spends the rest of his life helping others do the same.

Let us never forget these two Marines life long sacrifice.

Written by:
Bob Meli