Moving Borough Hall ceremony honors Brooklyn’s veterans

Adams: ‘Brooklyn never forgets’

November 9, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Judge Jerome Cohen (ret.) was one of ten veterans honored by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at a Borough Hall ceremony of Monday. Shown from left: Colonel Joseph D. Davidson, Adams and Judge Cohen.  Photo by Mary Frost
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Specialist Bryan Dilberian works with the FDNY 9 to 5 and just played in a hockey game against West Point. (West Point lost, he says.)

A normal life for an active young man – but extraordinary for a triple amputee who lost an arm and both legs below the knees after he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.

Dilberian, a native of Brooklyn who recently moved to a specially built (and donated) home on Staten Island, received a heartfelt round of applause at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Monday when he when he spoke about his newest dream.

“I want to graduate from West Point,” he said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, noting that he has a few friends connected to West Point, pledged his assistance. As the crowd cheered, he said, “Starting today, we will be part of trying to get you to West Point. We’ve got to get you to West Point!”

The moment was part of Borough Hall’s moving ceremony to honor Brooklyn’s veterans.

Before a packed courthouse, a color guard showed the colors and the national anthem was sung by Christina Burgos as audience members, most connected to the armed forces, held their hands over their hearts.  

After United States Army Garrison Chaplain Maj. Tracy Hudgins offered the invocation, the borough president presented citations to Brooklyn vets from each of the branches of the United States armed forces.

Honorees included Brooklyn residents Judge Jerome Cohen (ret.), Sarah Keys-Evans and Andrew Walcott. Besides Bryan Dilberian, members of the armed services receiving awards were: Sgt. First Class Robert Bobe (Army), Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Fauntelroy (Army), Robin Smith (Air Force), Herbert Nicolas Jr. (Marines) and Capt. Robert Smith (Coast Guard). 

From left: Colonel Joseph D. Davidson, Coast Guard Capt. Robert Smith, Herbert Nicolas (Marines), Robin Smith (Air Force), Borough President Eric Adams, Judge Jerome Cohen (ret.), Andrew Walcott, SPC Bryan Dilberian (Army), SPC Robert Bobe (Army), CMS Kev

Adams outlined Brooklyn’s commitment to programs addressing economic and mental health challenges facing vets, saying, “We should not have veterans living in the streets.”

“Brooklyn honors its vets, Brooklyn respects its vets and Brooklyn never forgets its vets,” he said.

Adams also spoke about his plan to restore the Brooklyn War Memorial in Cadman Plaza Park.

“The War Memorial was closed for decades,” he said. “But not while I’m borough president. I’m going to allocate $1 million to open it for veterans.” The plan includes making the facility accessible for the disabled.

A color guard ushered in the ceremony honoring Brooklyn’s veterans on Monday.

You are here because you are not alone,” said Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna. “We want you to be connected to every resource this city has to offer, that this great borough has to offer. It’s produced so much talent – thank you for all of your service. Thank you for the freedom you provide us, and for staying on top of what matters most: on nation united, defending its rights.”

Other speakers included Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree K. Sutton (a retired Army brigadier general), and USAG Fort Hamilton Command Sergeant Kevin Fauntleroy.

“Veterans Day is all about saying thank you,” said Fort Hamilton Colonel Joseph D. Davidson,” “It should be honored year round.

Afterwards, vets and service members checked out the “Start Strong, Finish Strong” resource fair, organized in partnership with United States Army Garrison Fort Hamilton and others. The event included care packages for veterans, transition services and a veterans’ art exhibit.

A young soldier learns what West Point has to offer.

Sgt. First Class Jason Torres and Sgt. First Class Robert Bobe.

84th Precinct Community Council President and WWII veteran Leslie Lewis got a shout out during the ceremony.

Sgt. Victor Morales from Fort Totton and Specialist Malik Ashby from Fort Hamilton guard a Humvee parked outside of Borough Hall.

Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Dr. Loree Sutton praised New York City’s new Department of Veterans’ Services. “We live in extraordinary times,” she said. Photos by Mary Frost

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