2003-05-23 / Community

‘Rendezvous With History’ As RMAC Hosts USO Gala

By Howard Schwach
‘Rendezvous With History’ As RMAC Hosts USO Gala By Howard Schwach

A vintage DC-3 Will be Part of the USO Show to be presented at Floyd Bennett Field on June 28A vintage DC-3 Will be Part of the USO Show to be presented at Floyd Bennett Field on June 28

Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn has played a part in America’s history and its mythology as well.

In the 1930’s Floyd Bennett was one of New York City’s major airports.

In April, 1936, Howard Hughes landed at the airport, setting a new record for speed on the Miami to New York City route.

In July of 1937, Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan took off from Floyd Bennett. Corrigan filed a flight plan for California, but he landed his small, single-engine plane in Ireland 29 hours later.

During World War II and into the Vietnam era, Floyd Bennett was a vital Naval Air Station that supported the active duty carrier Navy. Planes from VR-831, stationed at Floyd Bennett, supported the famous Berlin Airlift.

On June 28 at 7 p.m., Floyd Bennett will take another step into history, hosting the Rockaway Music and Art Council’s (RMAC) "Rendezvous With History," a World War II USO gala featuring vintage aircraft and the big band sound that everybody over sixty remembers so well.

Nancy Vardakis, the event’s coordinator, said that this will be "an extraordinary evening celebrating 100 years of aviation with the big band music of the 1940’s and a USO show."

The event, sponsored by the RMAC, The Rockaway Theater Company and the Historic Aviation Restoration Project (HARP), will be "a one time only, not to be missed event," according to Vardakis.

As part of the event, the sponsors are asking those who remember the era to share their memories of World War II with the rest of Rockaway.

Those who wish to do so can submit their typed "memories" to the RMAC – USO Gala at Post Office Box 221, Rockaway Park, New York 11694 to the attention of Nancy Vardakis.

It is hoped that all of the submissions will be included in a commemorative booklet that will be distributed at the event.

For example, Estelle Feldman, who leads the RMAC’s writing group, remembers the end of World War II in a copyrighted memoir.

"Wednesday, August 25, 1945. The war with Japan is over at last. Car horns are blowing, people are cheering, radios are blaring through open windows. Newspapers are torn into confetti and tossed into the air. It looks like a snowstorm in August. Everybody is hugging each other, kissing, shaking hands and crying. Cars are passing by with horns honking. Passengers are waving American flags or red, white and blue crepe paper streamers, yelling ‘It’s over!’ Children are marching up and down the street, carrying the stars and stripes, singing ‘America.’ The noise is overwhelming. We run upstairs to the kitchen radio and hear that thousands of people are in Times Square with more coming out of the subway stations. Then, not to miss any of the excitement, we run downstairs again."

Those interested in reservations or in further information should contact Vardakis at 718-474-6760.

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