Bay Ridge

Howard Dunn helped Bay Ridge show its patriotism

September 28, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Howard Dunn doing what he loved best: preparing to plant an American flag on the sidewalk.
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Howard Dunn, a World War II veteran who became famous in Bay Ridge for his dedication to veterans’ causes and his patriotic and painstaking efforts to plant hundreds of American flags on sidewalks throughout the neighborhood, died on Sept. 25 after a long illness. He was 88 years old.

Dunn served in the U.S. Navy from March of 1944 to April of 1946.

He was a beloved figure in Bay Ridge, where he lived with Mae, his wife of 68 years. Dunn was a member of the Amity Post of the American Legion and came up with an idea 20 years ago to give the neighborhood a chance to display its patriotism in a unique way.

Dunn, who was known as Howie to his friends, purchased hundreds of American flags and proceeded to plant the flags on the sidewalks in front of stores on Third Avenue, Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, with the permission of the store owners.

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The flag-planting project soon became legendary as more and more merchants requested that Dunn put flags in front of their shops.

Dunn was a former Kings County commander of the American Legion.

In May, Dunn served as a grand marshal of the Kings County Memorial Day Parade in Bay Ridge.

“Howie Dunn was a veteran’s veteran. He did so much to ensure our young veterans, especially Wounded Warriors, were given the recognition they deserve. He marched in the Kings County Memorial Day Parade since he was a kid and supported the parade when we were having financial difficulties,” Raymond Aalbue, a member of the parade committee, wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle.

Aalbue called Dunn “one of the finest men I had the pleasure to know and to work with.”

In addition to the American Legion and the Kings County Memorial Day Parade, Dunn was also active in the Wounded Warrior Project, a nationwide effort to assist military veterans who were wounded in battle, and worked with the Boy Scouts of America.

He first became active in the Boy Scouts in 1939.

Dunn helped to raise more than $28,000 between 2009 and 2012 for the Wounded Warrior Project and worked with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on clothing drives for veterans. He also led visiting soldiers and their families on tours of New York City.

“I join with the community in mourning the passing of Howard Dunn, a true American hero, who proudly served his community and his nation. Howard Dunn’s legacy will live on in our community, and all he accomplished shall never be forgotten,” state Sen. Marty Golden said.

“There was no greater advocate for our veterans and our military, and there was no one more proud of the American flag than Howie,” Golden added.

Dunn’s partnership with the Boy Scouts of America dated back to the Roosevelt administration. He joined Troop 321 at St. John’s Evangelist Church in 1939 and eventually became a scoutmaster and an assistant district commissioner overseeing 20 Boy Scout troops.

Among the awards he won over the years were the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America, the Ronald Reagan Americanism Award from the Kings County Conservative Party, the Patriotism Award from the Kings County Memorial Day Committee, the George V. Russano Award from the Cadet Baseball Club and the Spark Flag Award from the Atlantic District Boy Scout Committee.

Dunn is survived by his wife Mae, his daughter Geraldine, his four grandchildren and his three great-grandchildren.

A funeral Mass was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Saint Anselm Catholic Church in Bay Ridge.

The Dunn family has requested that donations be made in his name to the Amity Post of the American Legion and to the Wounded Warrior Project.

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