Generally Speaking: Memorial tribute to military chaplains

February 6, 2013 Theodore W. General
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The Kings County American Legion held its 53rd annual memorial service for the four heroicmilitary chaplains who perished 70 years ago during World War II.They were aboard the U.S. Army Transport Ship Dorchester when it was torpedoed by a German submarine.

They werea Methodist Minister,Lieutenant George Fox; a Rabbi, Lieutenant Alexander Goode; a Catholic Priest, Lieutenant John Washington; and a Dutch Reformed Minister, Lieutenant Clark Poling.When the ship was hit, the four clerics spread out among the wounded and frightened soldiers offering comfort and consolidation, until the captain of the quickly-sinking vessel gave the call to abandon ship.

When the chaplains realized they were no more life jackets available, they took off theirs and gave them to four frightened soldiers, knowing full well they would be going down with the ship. For this unselfish act of bravery, faith and selflessness, the four were posthumously awarded special medals for heroism authorized by Congress and presented to their families by President Dwight Eisenhower.

The present day commemorative ceremonies were held in the post chapel at Fort Hamilton.Martin Connelly of the Four Chaplains Committee, emceed the program. Past County Commander John HullIrwin Meyer.

Post Chaplain Major Jamison Bowman, Jr. gave the invocation with current Kings County American Legion Commander George Boston giving a welcome address.Deputy Post Chaplain First Lieutenant Mendy Stern gave a brief historical overview of the sacrifices made by the four chaplains.Reverend Michael Gelfant

Among the top brass attending were Fort Hamilton Garrison Commander Eluyn Gines and Command Sergeant Major Hector Prince; State District American Legion Commander Irwin Beck;County AL Chaplain (Rabbi) Colonel Jacob Goldstein (Ret.);Prisco (Pete) DeAngelis

During the musical program, the county band played Amazing Grace and Victory at Sea.Bandmaster Meyer, a World War II veteran whowill turn94 in April, has been conducting themusical ensemble for the past 20 years.He is a past recipient of a patriot’s award from the United War VeteransCouncil.

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As a veteran member of the parade committee and public relations director for the Ragamuffin Parade, as well ashaving written about Mayor Ed Koch, we still have fond memories of marching in the Ragamuffin Parades he alsoparticipated in.

We especially remember 1978, when he served as the grand marshal, and 1979, when he was the Ragamuffin Man of the Year. Koch — also a dear friend of the late Bay Ridge dynamo, Al Nahas — made several trips to Bay Ridge, to eat in local restaurants and march in other Bay Ridge-based parades like the annual 17 of May Norwegian-American Parade and the annual Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade.

He enjoyed immensely meeting the childrenin the Ragamuffin Parade and remarked that his favorite parade was the Ragamuffin march.He was wildly popular in Bay Ridge. Whenever he marched in a local parade, crowds along the parade route would cheer and applaud.I wonder how many folks recall that during the Koch administration current Kings County District Attorney Joe Hynes was the fire commissioner.

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Well, as I think you may have heard, Staten Island Chuck, the little groundhog prognosticator, didn’t see his shadow, so maybe an early spring in on the way!Apparently, to thechagrin of the other mayoral candidates,this year New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn pitch-hit for Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the annual Groundhog Day event across the Narrows, at the Staten Island Zoo.

Also sharing Chuck’s limelight (or daylight if you will) were Staten Island Beep James MolinaroScott StringerDomenic RecchiaVinnie Gentile. This now has some reading the tea leaves!

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The Cathedral Club of Brooklyn holds its 113th Anniversary Dinner on Tuesday evening, February 12 in the West Side Ballroom of the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. The keynote speaker will be ColonelMichael Gould

The prestigious event also serves as a major fundraiser for the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese which consistsof all theBrooklyn and Queens parishes. John Heyer II is the club president.For last minute reservations, call 917-402-9086.

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