American Legion Hosts Korean War Service And Convention
The Queens County Committee of the American Legion held a commemorative service at the 17 Road Park on Crossbay Blvd., on Friday night, June 6, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Korean War and remembering the five Broad Channel men lost in the war: killed in action, Joseph Dipetro, James Farrel, Ralph Matola, Thomas August; missing in action Walter Gross.
Among the dignitaries who attended was Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who delivered a proclamation from the Assembly; Congressman Anthony Weiner, who delivered medals issued by the Republic of Korea government to the families of the lost servicemen; NYC Councilman Joseph Addabbo, who delivered a proclamation from the Council and Fang Wong, the NYS Commander of the American Legion, who delivered a certificate from the Battle Monuments Commission, in honor of a new Korean War Veterans Memorial to be erected in the park.
The ceremonies were conducted by the Queens County Commander John Severa,, and the Queens County Service Officer Daniel O’Sullivan. After the memorial service the Queens County veterans, led by Grand Marshall Severa and the Queens County Color Guard, along with color guards from various veteran’s and civic organizations, and local bands, marched up Crossbay Blvd., past the reviewing stand, to the Broad Channel Legion Post 1402 (Robert Connolly, Commander).
On the following day, Saturday, June 7, the Queens County American Legion held its eighty-fifth annual convention to elect new officers for 2003-2004, elect delegates to the Department and National Conventions and conduct other business, at the Broad Channel Post.
The delegates were welcomed by the Convention Chairman Edward Murray, Past Post Commander. Outgoing Commander Severa thanked all his officers and Committee Chairmen for their good service during his term. His one regret was that Queens County had not achieved 100% membership and urged each Legionnaire to try to recruit at least one new member.
Severa was sad, too, that the Flag Protection Amendment was still languishing in the Senate, although it had passed the House with a large majority. He asked each Legionnaire to write to Senator Clinton and Schumer, both of whom are opposed to the Amendment, to encourage them to vote for it.
The Legionnaires heard from several dignitaries: Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer; Senator Serphin Maltese; Councilman Joseph Addabbo; WABC commentator and head of the Guardian Angels Curtis Sliwa; and John Donellan, Director of the Veterans Administration New York Harbor Health Care System.
Change in Health Benefits
Donellan apprised the veterans of changes in the VA’s delivery of health care such as the reduction in some co-pay requirements, a record increase in the VA medical care budget to $63.6 billion for 2004, a new priority group 8 for non-service connected veterans, and a geographic means test which will see some veterans moved to different priority groups.
Senator Maltese, himself a Korean War veteran, said that he, in conjunction with Pheffer, has sponsored several Korean War, in which hundreds of vets had received their medals. He noted that the vets of that war were largely forgotten when they returned home and had not pursued the medals to which they’re entitled.
Maltese will conduct another ceremony soon and any Korean War vets who did not receive their medals should contact his office. Sliwa, however, was angry that the U.S. government, after promising the enlistees in the services life-time military health care if they served 20 years, reneged on this promise because it wasn’t in writing, and the Supreme Court just upheld the government’s position.
A highlight of the convention was the Law and Order Awards ceremony conducted by Chairman Raymond Powers PCC and Denis McEneaney PCC (retired FDNY).
The recipients of these awards, cheered by their families, were NYPD officer Thomas Gironda (113 precinct) who had effected 89 felony arrests; officer Michael Fisher (109 precinct), through stake-outs with his partners, had broken up the "Code Wise" burglary ring which had terrorized the homeowners of Queens; FDNY officers Lt. Peter Antine and Firefighter Lawrence Parker (Ladder 129) who, at great risk to their own lives, entered a burning building and rescued a badly-burned female victim; EMS Dr. Allen Cherson, Asst. Medical Director, who has successfully coordinated the EMS responses to major accidents and Lt. Wiliam Glason, who has brought healing and hope to sick children at Elmhurst Hospital.
The veterans then gave their annual Legionnaires of the Year Award to Arthur Seufert (Post 1424) and Queens County Adjutant Harvey Moder PCC, President of the QC Press Association, gave awards to the editors of the best Legion Post newsletters.
The delegates then voted for the new Queens County officers and Executive Committee for 2003-2004: Manfred H. Brandt Commander (Post 298; Vice-Commanders Gerald Bergeron (272), Robert Condeleo (272), David L. Patterson (301); Harry Jahnke, Treasurer (797); Louis Rodriguez, Adjutant (632); Archibald Waterman, Chaplain (1946); and Joseph Biasi, Historian (510).