Military veterans earn salute from Bay Ridge pols
Jose H. Hernandez and Thomas Karnes were serving in the First Calvary Division when their unit was engaged in battle on a hilltop near Bon Song in Vietnam on Feb. 22, 1966. They encountered a tremendous amount of fire. Hernandez was badly injured and Karnes dressed the wound, ultimately saving his buddy’s life. This act of courage bonded the two men together forever.
But they lost touch with each other in the years after their military service ended. They were finally reunited a few years ago after Karnes went looking for his friend and found him living in the western United States.
Their remarkable story was just one of the touching tales shared at a pre-Veterans Day breakfast hosted by state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) Thursday at the Bay Ridge Manor.
Golden invited Col. Joseph Davidson, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Brooklyn-Staten Island) and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) to the event to pay tribute to those who answered their country’s call to duty.
The program featured special awards presented to the Ladies Auxiliary of the Catholic War Veterans Russo-De Marco Post #1702, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans, Hernandez and Karnes and an NYPD Transit Authority dog named Caesar, who served three tours for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
The members of the Jewish War Veterans Ladies Auxiliary have volunteered time at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Brooklyn, coordinating the distribution of puzzle books and card games, crocheting lap blankets and hats, donating cards, stamps and stationary, and supporting the coffee program for hospital outpatients.
The Ladies Auxiliary of the Catholic War Veterans Russo-De Marco Post #1702 has been active for 63 years. They have donated funds to education, support the “Keep Christ in Christmas” poster contest and have raised funds for a number of charitable causes. The members also volunteer at the VA, playing bingo and donating toiletry items to the veterans.
Golden, who sponsors a breakfast for veterans every year, said he is always touched by the stories of the men and women who served in wartime.
“The people who served are interesting in that they don’t talk much about what they did for the country. But when they get together at an event like the breakfast, they talk to each other about it,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle.
The senator said he is in awe of the veterans. “They went through so much. To see an 82-year-old war veteran with tears in his eyes talking about a battle he was in is something,” he said.
The breakfast ended with everyone singing of “God Bless America.”
Veterans Day is Nov. 11.
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