While he worked at other post offices, including in Rego Park, Panico spent about 25 years and ended his career at the Forest Hills station.
The Howard Beach resident is also a Vietnam veteran who served from 1971 to 1973. As someone who had always expressed interest in working for the government, Panico credits his time in Vietnam with getting his job with the postal service in 1978.
“I still don’t know to this day who put in for me to get this job, whether it was my father-in-law or my uncle,” Panico said. “But it’s been the best thing and just so fulfilling.”
After returning from service overseas, he arrived on the job with addiction issues. But through the help of his work along with family and friends, he has managed to stay clean for 27 years.
“There was always a lot of work to do which helped me because it kept my mind off of it,” Panico said. “I used to even make it to a Friday night meeting every week in Forest Hills Gardens, and I’ll get back into that now that I’m retired.”
Panico, who has been a mail carrier throughout his entire career, noted how much the job has changed over the years. There is a much lower volume of mail, although the number of flats for envelopes and magazines and parcels are on the rise.
“I wouldn’t do anything else, not a supervisor position or a truck driver,” he said.
Of all his co-workers, Panico and Michael Beneventano have known each other the longest, since both men started working their careers with the postal service on October 7, 1978.
Nine years ago, they were reunited at the Forest Hills post office.
“It’s been a good station and a good area, I loved it, the people are just great,” Panico said, following a retirement party thrown by his co-workers.”These people are really good at this station, they do a lot of great work even though they might not always realize it.”
While he may not agree with certain changes to the system, like the economical split routes instead of carriers covering for each other, for the young carriers starting out, Panico offered up some advice.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, especially since there’s so many more parcels than when I started out,” he said. “But if you want to succeed, you’re going to have to work hard to be where you want to be.”