2012-05-18 / Columnists

Honoring Military Veterans

History Series:

In time for Armed Forces Day, and just ahead of Fleet Week and Memorial Day, local historian Bernie Feuer will be presenting two multimedia programs of the Rockaway Peninsula and Jamaica Bay areas.

With words and pictures he will bring to life “Tales of the Cats: The Story of the PBY Catalinas” and “The Guns of Fort Tilden.” Both are part of a series of presentations Feuer has brought to growing audiences throughout the peninsula and elsewhere. Admission to both events is free.

On Saturday, May 19 Floyd Bennett Field Hanger B will provide the backdrop for “Tales of the Cats: The Story of the PBY Catalinas.” Starting at 1 p.m., the presentation is hosted by the National Park Service and the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project.

During the early dim dark days after Pearl Harbor, these versatile sea planes were the only offensive weapon we had in the Southwest Pacific. As Feuer says, “they prowled through the back alleys, estuaries and harbors of the Southwest Pacific, destroying Japanese shipping and warships.” Learn how the actions of one Catalina led to victory at the decisive Battle of Midway. They also “helped win the battle of the Atlantic and helped sink the German battleship Bismarck.” Viewers will also be able to view an actual World War II Catalina.

On Sunday, May 20 the tide of history will roll through the Rockaway Artists Alliance T-7 (sTudio 7) Gallery at Fort Tilden with “The Guns of Fort Tilden,” hosted by the RAA. The presentation explores the Fort’s days as a major military facility whose advanced weapons protected New York Harbor through World Wars I and II and the Cold War.

Starting at 1 p.m., the program will let the audience members view images and learn about “the awesome weapons of war that were in Rockaway’s backyard,” as Feuer explains. They will also learn about Rockaway’s role in the War of 1812, the submarine activity that took place just off its sandy shore, the peculiar foliage that dots its man-made hills, and the day World War II came to Rockaway.

Having drawn capacity crowds for previous presentations, Feuer, the Rockaway Artists Alliance, the National Park Service and the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project invite all to take a stroll into the past and unlock the secrets of history still waiting in the sky, land and waters of Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway coast.

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