Walter's Community's Posts (48)

Flag Day in the United States

People across the United States celebrate Flag Day on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption. On the same day, the United States Army celebrates its birthday.

Flag Day USA
Flag Day honors the United States flag.
© RiverNorthPhotography

What Do People Do?

Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nation’s freedom. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the country’s ideals since its early days. During both events, Americans also remember their loyalty to the nation, reaffirm their belief in liberty and justice, and observe the nation’s unity.

Many people in the United States honor this day by displaying the American flag at homes and public buildings. Other popular ways of observing this holiday include: flag-raising ceremonies; Flag Day services; school quizzes and essay competitions about the American flag; musical salutes; street parades; and awards for special recognition.

Organizations such as The National Flag Day Foundation are actively involved in coordinating activities centered on the event and keeping the flag’s traditions alive. Following Flag Day is Honor America Days, a 21-day period through to Independence Day (July 4) to honor America. During this period, people hold public gatherings and activities to celebrate and honor the nation.

Public Life

Although Flag Day is a nationwide observance, it is not a public holiday in many parts of the United States. It is a legal holiday in a few areas in the USA, such as Montour County in Pennsylvania.


On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes – one for each state. Although it is not certain, this flag may have been made by the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross, who was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy. The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.

In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrand’s effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.

The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation to: call on government officials in the USA to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Flag Day; and to urge US residents to observe Flag Day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.


The American flag, also nicknamed as “Old Glory” or “star-spangled banner”, has changed designs over the centuries. It consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars. Each of the 50 stars represents one of the 50 states in the United States and the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.

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The first celebration of the U.S. Flag's birthday was held in 1877 on the 100th anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777. However, it is believed that the first annual recognition of the flag's birthday dates back to 1885 when school teacher, BJ Cigrand, first organized a group of Wisconsin school children to observe June 14 - the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes as the Flag's Birthday. Cigrand, now known as the 'Father of Flag Day,' continued to publically advocate the observance of June 14 as the flag's 'birthday', or 'Flag Day' for years.

Just a few years later the efforts of another school teacher, George Balch, led to the formal observance of 'Flag Day' on June 14 by the New York State Board of Education. Over the following years as many as 36 state and local governments began adopted the annual observance. For over 30 years Flag Day remained a state and local celebration.


In 1916, the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 became a nationally observed event by a proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson. However, it was not designated as National Flag Day until August 3rd, 1949, when an Act of Congress designated June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Today, Flag Day is celebrated with parades, essay contests, ceremonies, and picnics sponsored by veterans' groups, schools, and groups like the National Flag Day foundation whose goal is to preserve the traditions, history, pride, and respect that are due the nation's symbol, Old Glory.

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The Stars and Stripes originated as a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. The resolution read: "Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation. "

The resolution gave no instruction as to how many points the stars should have, nor how the stars should be arranged on the blue union. Consequently, some flags had stars scattered on the blue field without any specific design, some arranged the stars in rows, and some in a circle. The first Navy Stars and Stripes had the stars arranged in staggered formation in alternate rows of threes and twos on a blue field. Other Stars and Stripes flags had stars arranged in alternate rows of four, five and four. Some stars had six points while others had eight.  

Strong evidence indicates that Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was responsible for the stars in the U.S. flag. At the time that the flag resolution was adopted, Hopkinson was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board's Middle Department. Hopkinson also helped design other devices for the Government including the Great Seal of the United States. For his services, Hopkinson submitted a letter to the Continental Admiralty Board asking "whether a Quarter Cask of the public Wine will not be a proper & reasonable Reward for these Labours of Fancy and a suitable Encouragement to future Exertions of a like Nature." His request was turned down since the Congress regarded him as a public servant.


Properly Display the American Flag | How To
Learn how to properly display the American flag in this video hosted by Command Sergeant Major T. S. Decker (ret.). Watch now.
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The 2018 edition of the Belmont Stakes packs a double punch with a monumental anniversary celebration and the possibility of a Triple Crown sweep on tap for Saturday at Belmont Park.

The Belmont Stakes, the oldest, longest and most grueling of the three Triple Crown races, celebrates its 150th running this year and a sellout crowd of 90,000 is expected to turn out to see if Justify can add his name to the winners of the American series. The muscular colt who beat the odds in the Kentucky Derby and sliced through the thick fog in the Preakness Stakes will be the favorite in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont in his attempt to become the 13th Triple Crown winner.

An action-packed day is on tap – a loaded card of stakes races and bevy of entertaining options – for the fans that stick around for the main event a bit before 7 p.m. Saturday. Justify is unquestionably the star attraction and his bid for the Triple Crown marks the second time in the race’s storied history that a sweep was on the line in a major anniversary year, following Forward Pass’ failed attempt in the 100th edition in 1968. Justify’s bid also comes 20 years after Real Quiet came agonizingly close before losing by a nose to Victory Gallop.

Unlike Forward Pass and Real Quiet – and many of the other 35 horses who came to Belmont with a chance – Justify brings an undefeated record to the table. He’ll attempt to match Seattle Slew, the sport’s only unbeaten Triple Crown winner in 1977, and not follow in the footsteps of Smarty Jones, who came within a length of a sweep in 2004.

“It’s such a relief, when you have a horse like this to win the first two and look forward to the Triple Crown,” said Justify’s trainer Bob Baffert, who also conditioned the most recent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. “There’s a reason why he’s undefeated. He knows where the wire is, we needed an extra five yards from him today and we got it.”

The extra five yards came three weeks ago in the Preakness, when Justify battled early with champion Good Magic and held off late challenges from Bravazo and Tenfold to become the 35th Derby-Preakness winner and the 10th since 1997.

Baffert trained five of the 10 – Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet, War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify – and has made a personal playground of the Triple Crown races during his Hall of Fame career. Baffert brings 14 victories in Triple Crown races to this year’s Belmont, tied with fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas atop the all-time list. A rubber match of sorts could unfold in the Belmont, with Baffert sending out Justify and longshot Restoring Hope and Lukas running Preakness runner-up Bravazo.
Sixth in the Kentucky Derby, Bravazo finished a half-length behind Justify in the Preakness with Tenfold another neck back. Bravazo and

Tenfold both made late runs to reach contention in the Preakness, but still could not overhaul Justify.

That’s nothing new for Justify, who did not race as a 2-year-old and became the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby after not racing the prior year. Justify won three starts before the Derby and then romped on a sloppy track to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths.

Baffert said he was in “awe of the performance” by Justify in the Derby, admitting to being more relieved than elated after the victory.

“I’d been fretting all week trying to get this big horse there,” Baffert said. “It’s like having LeBron James on your team. You better win a championship with him. That’s the way we feel.

“That’s the best Kentucky Derby-winning performance that I’ve brought up here. He just did it, he just put himself up there with the greats . . .

Hey, I didn’t want to jinx myself, but we knew, I knew I had something really special, but he had to prove it today. The curse thing really didn’t bother me. I was just worried about us, just make sure we did everything right.”

Justify stayed at Churchill Downs to train for the Preakness – just as he did before the Belmont – per Baffert’s style to not return the colt to his California base and avoid shipping across the country. He caught a wet track again in the Preakness, and dueled with Good Magic for a majority of the race as a thick fog rolled into Pimlico about an hour before the race.

Justify withstood the challenge again under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, put away Good Magic in the stretch and lasted to the finish.
“He’s a superior horse,” Baffert said after the Preakness. “It takes a really good horse. We’ve seen horses win the first two but what he’s done in just five starts is incredible. That takes like an American Pharoah talent to do it.

“American Pharoah, his Derby was like this Preakness.

He had to work at it, he came into the Preakness and just showed us what he was. Today it was sort of the same, he had to gut it out. But it’s good for these types of horses, that was the first time he had to lay it down and he came through.”

Now comes the Belmont, which foiled Hall of Famers Northern Dancer, Spectacular Bid, Alysheba, Sunday Silence and Silver Charm and superstars Smarty Jones, Big Brown and California Chrome. The big question is can Justify avoid adding his name to that list and instead join the likes of Secretariat, Citation, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Count Fleet. The answer will come in the 12 furlongs and the group of quality opponents awaiting Justify, Baffert, Smith and the colt’s large ownership group led by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club.

“It’s an incredible journey, it’s been quick, but he’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him and he handles it without really losing his composure,” Baffert said last week. “A lot of horses when you run them that many times they’ll start getting nervous or hot, but he seems to be thriving on it. He’s a very intelligent horse, that’s his biggest asset. Not only is he a great athlete, but his mind. The way he stood in the paddock at the Kentucky Derby and in the Preakness, just standing there like he’s been there so many times before. Nothing bothers him. He’s a very fearless type of horse . . . He’s an A personality type horse. That’s another strong point that he has, he has no fear. That’s the way he’s always been and handles everything so well.”

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Here & There…At Belmont Park

Belmont Stakes By The Numbers

2: Fillies to win in the first 39 runnings – Ruthless in 1867 and Tanya in 1905.

4: Winners sired by Lexington in first 11 editions – General Duke (1868), Kingfisher (1870), Harry Bassett (1871) and Duke Of Magenta (1878).

6: Belmont Stakes wins by owners James R. Keane and Belair Stud, the record.

5: Consecutive Belmont Stakes wins by trainer Woody Stephens from 1982 to 1986 with Conquistador Cielo, Caveat, Swale, Crème Fraiche and Danzig Connection.

102: Years between winning fillies – Tanya in 1905 and Rags To Riches in 2007.

1: Trainer to condition two Triple Crown winners. James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons did it with Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935. Bob Baffert could become the second with a Belmont win by Justify.

4: Tracks to host the Belmont Stakes – Jerome Park (1867-89) in the Bronx, Morris Park (1890-1904), Aqueduct (1963-67) and – of course – Belmont Park (1905-62 and 1968-2018). The race was not run in 1911 and 1912 due to anti-gambling legislation.

10: Owners with back-to-back winners, most recently Meadow Stable with Riva Ridge in 1972 and Secretariat in 1973.

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Belmont Stakes History

The Belmont Stakes run for the 150th time Saturday at Belmont Park resembles the roughly 100 runnings dating to the mid-1920s and stands in stark contrast to the early renewals of one of America’s oldest races.

The modern Belmont Stakes holds a fixed spot on the calendar as the third jewel of the Triple Crown, run at the series’ longest distance of 1 1/2 miles and in early June. The race has seen more than its fair share of changes and a historic review shows the race run at five distances, sometimes clockwise, under the auspices of myriad racing jurisdictions at four tracks, not run twice because of anti-gambling laws in New York, occasionally contested in late May and once even in November.

Inaugurated by the American Jockey Club with a goal to “attract the best and build a prestige for American racing comparable to the Epsom Derby of England, the Belmont Stakes was first run Thursday, June 19, 1867 at the former Jerome Park. Constructed on a 230-acre tract of land in what was then Westchester County – and now the Jerome Park Reservoir in the Bronx – Jerome Park only opened for racing nine months before the first Belmont Stakes.

The first 23 editions of the race – named for August Belmont Sr., who co-founded Jerome Park with Leonard Jerome – were run at Jerome Park, which featured a ribbon-shaped racecourse with a spacious grandstand, before the race was moved to Morris Park. A little more than a mile from what is now Van Cortlandt Park, Morris Park hosted the Belmont for 15 years before it was moved when Belmont Park, just on the border of Queens and Nassau County, opened in 1905. The Belmont was not run in 1911 and 1912 because of anti-gambling laws and during the reconstruction of Belmont Park from 1963-1967 the race was run at Aqueduct.

The following is a look back at some of the memorable editions of the Belmont Stakes, divided into three categories – ancient, yesteryear and modern.

Vancient Editions
Eleven 3-year-olds were nominated to the first running of the Belmont Stakes and only four faced the starter – the Francis Morris entry of the filly Ruthless and Monday and the duo of DeCourcey and Rivoli. Ruthless moved up to challenge DeCourcey late in the race before edging clear of that rival late, winning by a head and earning $1,850 by covering the 1 5/8-mile distance in 3:05.

Later regarded by legendary racing historian Walter S. Vosburgh as the “best filly he had ever seen,” Ruthless added the Travers Stakes and Sequel Stakes at Saratoga and retired with a leg injury with seven victories in 11 starts.

Ruthless’ name appears frequently in write-ups of the Belmont in modern times, as the first winner and one of only three fillies to win the race. She held the honor as the only filly to win until Tanya scored in 1905 and those two were joined by Rags To Riches in 2007.

Other winners of the early editions of the Belmont included 1871 champion Harry Bassett, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2010 and multiple champion who won 14 races in a row and 17 of 18 career starts; Calvin in the 1875 edition over a field of 14 that included inaugural Kentucky Derby winner Aristides and eventual Hall of Famer Tom Ochiltree; Hall of Fame inductee Duke of Magenta in 1878; and the undefeated Colin in 1908.

The lone running of the Belmont not in May or June came in the 29th edition, won by Belmar on a dreary and “disagreeable” day at Morris Park Nov. 2, 1895. The race was moved to the fall that year because the New York Jockey Club closed out its affairs, leaving the Westchester Racing Association to handle the race.

Classics of Yesteryear
The year after the sport’s first recognized Triple Crown winner – Sir Barton in 1919 – arguably one of American racing’s greatest horses won the Belmont Stakes.

Pitted against just one opponent, Man o’ War ran his record to 12-for-13 with a 20-length victory over Donnacona in the 52nd running of the Belmont. “Big Red” won the 1 3/8-mile Belmont – the distance the race was run from 1906 to 1925 – in an American record time of 2:14 1/5. Man o’ War, who did not run in the Kentucky Derby but won the Preakness, eventually retired at the end of his 3-year-old season with 20 wins in 21 starts.

A historic profile of the Belmont Stakes in the April 22, 1989 edition of The Blood-Horse magazine outlined how the “exacting distance of the Belmont prevents any but a genuine horse from winning,” and later opined that “the luckiest horse wins the Kentucky Derby, the fittest horse wins the Preakness and the best horse wins the Belmont.”

The results from the post-Man o’ War years until modern times certainly validate that belief. Seven of the 12 Triple Crown winners – Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Citation (1948) – capped their historic runs with Belmont Stakes victories during that period.

The Belmont’s distance of 1 1/2 miles – which Justify will attempt to navigate Saturday to become another Triple Crown winner – was permanently changed in 1926.

Man o’ War’s record 20-length margin was unchallenged until 1943, when Count Fleet capped his Triple Crown run with a monstrous 25-length tally over Fairy Manhurst and Deseronto. Count Fleet’s victory was his 10th consecutive and the Belmont wound up being his final career start after an ankle injury didn’t respond properly to treatment.

Modern Times
The Triple Crown went through two sizable droughts in the modern era – from 1948 to 1973 and from 1978 to 2015 – not that there weren’t opportunities when the Belmont Stakes rolled around. Six times in the 1950s and ’60s there was a chance and again in 1971 before the quintessential Belmont Stakes moment arrived in 1973.

Conversations about the Belmont Stakes often begin and end with Secretariat, a force of a Thoroughbred who rolled to electric victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and seemed destined to sweep the series in 1973. Also nicknamed “Big Red,” Secretariat delivered a masterpiece performance in his Belmont. He faced only four opponents in the 105th Belmont, the chief opposition being Derby and Preakness runner-up Sham.

Secretariat quickly slammed the door on any challenge from Sham before pulling away to a 31-length victory in stakes-, track- and world-record time of 2:24 to end a 25-year Triple Crown drought. His statue graces the Belmont Park paddock.

Two more Triple Crown winners followed – Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978 – and a third was in line when Spectacular Bid came to New York with a chance to sweep in 1979. Spectacular Bid was foiled in the Belmont, finishing fourth after his trainer said he stepped on a safety pin that caused him to be lame the morning of the race.

Spectacular Bid started another long drought, which eventually reached 37 years, until American Pharoah ended it with his victory in 2015. Pitted against seven opponents, the bay colt led from start to finish and won by 5 1/2 lengths in 2:26.65 – one of the fastest editions in the race’s history, affectionately known as the “Test of a Champion.”

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Walter Scherr was a depression era kid who survived tuberculosis and six years in a sanatorium to become a leader in the business community. He was a boardroom millionaire and a key figure in the early days of the high-tech revolution. Walter’s story connects the dots between those lives he touched and those that touched his. He held the positions of Executive Vice President (1993-1995) and Chief Financial Officer (1990-1993) at Veeco Instruments Inc., becoming a director in 2005. He has also served as a consultant for the company since 1995. He served as General Manager of the UPA Technology Division in the 1980s, as well as a variety of other financial and operating management positions with Litton Industries and Sperry Gyroscope Co, including group Vice President. However, Walter was not only an executive, but also a visionary — in the 1980’s, he was the Principal and Founder of Visual Sciences Inc./Panafax (the first publicly traded facsimile company). He was also an Associate Professor at Farmingdale State School and Co-Founder of The Vera and Walter Scherr and Family Foundation.

Listen to the interview Here:

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Walter Scherr Interview

Moe and Walter Scherr talk about how he was a Depression era kid who survived tuberculosis and six years in a sanatorium to become a leader in the business community; a boardroom millionaire; and a key figure in the early days of the high-tech revolution.

Walter’s Way: The Making of a Remarkable Humanitarian

What a treat it was for me today to share part of my day with one of the more remarkable human beings I’ve ever been around, .  At 91 years young, he’s the quintessential entrepreneur who, in the process of making the world a better place, leaves everyone in his presence better off.   His character is one of dignity and trust, his example is one I would want my son to emulate, and his moral strength is what superhero movies are built around.  

Having dedicated his professional career to building businesses in technology and oil & gas, he now directs his energy to perhaps his most important project - The Center for Discovery.  As you’ll pick up in this conversation, there’s no better humanitarian on the planet with as much determination to serve those less fortunate:  

Here’s what he’ll share: 

  • How he evaluates his life - both personally and professionally
    How adversity has shaped his character
  • Building mental resilience & dealing with his lowest moments
  • The time he knew he wanted to run a business
  • Why management by walking around ignites the best in others
  • The greatest lesson he learned from Mother Teresa
    The business philosophy inherent in the 3-in-1 egg theory

Listen to the interview:


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A $1.9 Million Gift to Help Educate Mental Health Professionals 

Walter J. Scherr likes to kick the tires of an organization before he becomes a donor.

The 88-year-old Queens native and retired businessman founded Visual Sciences Inc., one of the first publicly traded fax companies. Over his 60 years of buying and selling businesses, Mr. Scherr says that he likes to evaluate a company by examining the balance sheet, profit-and-loss statements and the intellectual property of an organization.

This is an approach Mr. Scherr took about a decade ago when he became a donor to the Center for Discovery, a provider of education and residential services for children and adults with autism and other medical complexities in Harris, N.Y.

Walter J. Scherr

Over the last decade, Mr. Scherr has given some $500,000 to the charity for staff scholarships. His four children have made a $1 million gift to create the Walter & Vera Scherr Learning Lab, so named for their father and late mother. Mr. Scherr has pledged to raise another $900,000 for the lab before his 90th birthday. The $1.9 million will be announced Tuesday night during the Center for Discovery's annual gala in New York.

The learning lab will allow staff members to continue their advanced education and share their expertise with others who care for people with severe and complex disabilities, medical frailties and individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Mr. Scherr, who now lives in Sarasota, Fla., was introduced to the charity by chance during a casual conversation with his surgeon, George J. Todd, an expert in carotid artery surgery and chairman of the department of surgery at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center.

Dr. Todd asked Mr. Scherr what interested him philanthropically and Mr. Scherr shared his interest in helping co-workers who, as a result of a birth accident, had suffered from cerebral palsy. Over the years, he'd seen the challenges his co-workers had faced and, as a result, set up a fund for them upon his retirement.

It was a moment of kismet for the two men as Dr. Todd shared with Mr. Scherr his involvement in the Center for Discovery. Dr. Todd asked Mr. Scherr to visit, as a personal favor, to evaluate the center on a business level. During Mr. Scherr's visit, he asked to see the organization's books, examine the place on his own and write an evaluation of what he saw. Mr. Scherr was impressed and made his first gift in 2004.

"There's nothing like seeing the operation itself," says Mr. Scherr. "I tell other people, 'I can't guarantee anything after you go up and see the Center for Discovery, but I can tell you for the next week you won't sweat the small stuff.'"

It was more than just the financials and the dedicated staff that persuaded Mr. Scherr in his giving to the Center for Discovery. He considers himself extremely lucky in life. He survived the Depression and tuberculosis, which was discovered during a routine Army medical evaluation to serve in World War II.

"The gospel says take care of my children and I'll take care of you," cites Mr. Scherr, who believes that the Center for Discovery staff members all have a place "upstairs." Then, Mr. Scherr says with a laugh, "I'm hoping I can come in on their coattails."

Write to Melanie Grayce West at

Read more… 446w, 342w, 150w, 100w" alt="Pfc. Frank Crary in the Republic of Vietnam" /> 446w, 342w, 150w, 100w" alt="Maj. Gen. Robert P. Walters Jr., Commander of U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, presents Mr. Frank Crary, with the Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary heroism during the Vietnam War." /> 446w, 342w, 150w, 100w" alt="Lt. Col. Andrew Kiser, Commander of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry presents Mr. Frank Crary the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry." /> 446w, 342w, 150w, 100w" alt="Command Sgt. Maj. Warren K. Robinson, Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, congratulates Mr. Frank Crary on his receipt of the Distinguished Service Cross." />

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - At a ceremony held at Fitch Auditorium May 22, Maj. Gen. Robert P. Walters Jr., Commander of U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, presented Mr. Frank Crary, a Tucson resident, with the Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary heroism during the Vietnam War.

Fifty-two years ago, on April 7 in the Republic of Vietnam, Pfc. Crary was assigned as a senior rifleman assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Crary's battalion reconnaissance platoon was in pursuit of North Vietnamese regulars when it encountered a numerically superior force in camouflaged fortified positions. Members of the reconnaissance platoon were pinned down and taking heavy casualties from intense enemy fire, including a crew served machine gun.

Crary identified the location of the machine gun and began returning fire, attempting to suppress the advantage of the enemy. Then, on his own initiative, and with total disregard for his own personal safety, he jumped up and ran towards the machine gun position. In doing so, Crary exposed himself to counter-fire from nearby North Vietnamese camouflaged positions, which he methodically engaged and neutralized. Continuing his one man assault, he flanked the enemy machine gun, attacking and killing the enemy. Crary's valiant actions turned the battle, allowing the remainder of the reconnaissance platoon to neutralize the other enemy positions.

Crary's actions that day had members of his unit wondering if he had just lost his mind, but Crary sees it a different way. 

"I was just doing my job," said Crary. "Some may have thought it was a little crazy at the time, but I saw what needed be done and I did it."

During the ceremony the current command team from 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, presented additional awards to Crary. Lt. Col. Andrew Kiser, Commander of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment presented Crary the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. Command Sgt. Maj. Shelly Jenkins, Command Sergeant Major of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, presented Crary the Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge and the Presidential Unit Citation.

The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army and is given for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force.

"I never expected to receive this medal, and I was overwhelmed when Maj. Gen. Walters called me and asked if they could host the ceremony at Fort Huachuca," said Crary. "What a thankful addition to my life."

By Randall Baucom

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The engineers from Company A, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, row as hard as the can across McKellars Lake during the Crossing of the Waal re-enactment competition. All four engineer companies from division competed in the event.
The engineers from the 82nd Airborne Division all paddle across McKellars Lake during the Crossing the Waal River re-enactment race on Sept. 18. All four engineer companies from the four combat brigades participated in the event.
Two engineers from Company A, 2 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, swim towards their boat after falling overboard during the Crossing of the Waal re-enactment race at McKellars Lake.
The 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Team engineers push their boats into McKellars Lake at the start of the Crossing of the Waal River re-enactment competition on Sept. 18. All four engineer companies from the 82nd Airborne Division competed in the event.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Running two miles with a boat overhead, then frantically paddling across a lake might seem like an exhausting feat, but for the engineers of the 82nd Airborne Division, it's just a fun way to pay tribute to the past.

To honor one of the most famous feats in combat engineer history - the crossing of the Waal River by pontoon boat into Germany in 1944 - engineers from the four combat brigades of the 82nd Airborne competed in a re-enactment of the crossing on Sept. 18. 

Each of the engineer companies participating in the event ran with a 14- man boat to a launch point at Mackellar's Lake. Once launched, the Paratroopers then raced each other twice across the lake. 

This year the 1st Brigade Combat Team engineers won the competition. 
"It feels awesome to win it," said 1st Brigade's Sgt. 1st Class Randolph Delapena, a Miami native, while holding onto the oar that was presented to the company for winning the competition. 

The engineers try to stage the Crossing of the Waal re-enactment every year on the anniversary of the operation, reflecting its status as an important part of 307th Engineer Battalion and 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment history. 

During World War II, the Paratroopers made five trips across the Waal River at Nijmegen during daylight and under heavy enemy fire on Sept. 20, 1944. Crossing the Waal played a crucial role in the 504th PIR seizing occupied German bridges.

The re-enactment is always a good time for the engineers, and this year proved no exception. Through out the morning the engineers remained loud and rambunctious, from screaming at the top of their lungs during the run to voluntarily jumping into the lake to help push off the boats. 

The event was attended by several past and present commanders who got a kick out of the engineer's enthusiasm.

"This competition is live and loud," said Col. Christopher Gibson, the 2nd BCT commander. "I know we're going to have a great competition for years to come."

"You all did a great thing here today," said Lt. Col. Frederic Drummond, the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion commander, addressing the engineers. "It's a great way to honor our distant past."

A lot of the engineers who competed in this year's event were not new to the Crossing of the Waal re-enactment, like three time contender Staff Sgt. Rich Gerzmehle. Even though Gerzmehle, a Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., native, has competed several times, he was quick to mention that this year's event stood out from the past. 

"This was by far my favorite," said Gerzmehle, a platoon sergeant for Co. A, 2nd BSTB. "It seemed like all the Brigades were into it," he said in a voice barely audible over the screaming and hooting Paratroopers in the background. 

Even though the engineers exerted a lot of energy during the competition there were no signs of exhaust after.

"Nobody's tired, the adrenaline is still kicking," Delapena, a platoon sergeant from Co. A, 1st BSTB, 82nd Abn. Div, said of the engineers. 

Although the event was a competition, a lot of the engineers just enjoyed being together and catching up with old friends.

"We don't see each other on a day to day basis like we used to," said Sgt. 1st Class James Gaw, a platoon sergeant from Co. A, 1st BSTB, referring to when all the engineers were in the same battalion. "Today is a reunion."

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The history of the “AA” arm patch

The Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, an elite division specializing in air assault.

Based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 82nd Airborne soldiers are easily recognizable by their maroon berets and “AA” arm patches. They have been involved in virtually every U.S. military conflict since World War I.

The history of the “AA” arm patch

The “AA” arm patch, worn by all 82nd Airborne soldiers, stands for “All American,” the nickname given to the division when it was first formed at Camp Gordon, Georgia, in 1917.

During World War I, many units created nicknames for themselves to build camaraderie and boost morale. Shortly after its inception, the newly-formed 82nd, in partnership with the Atlanta Georgian newspaper, held a contest to collect nickname ideas for the division. The winning nickname, “All American,” was submitted by Vivienne Goodwyn and was chosen for its embodiment of the 82nd’s unique makeup. Unlike other divisions at the time, a diverse group of men from all 48 states served in the 82nd.

Listen to this podcast by the 82nd Airborne Division for more information about its “All American” nickname:

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Veteran Bill “Sarge” Tucker

Delaware Hospice Patient Bill “Sarge” Tucker of New Castle attended his 75th Memorial Day Parade in Wilmington on Friday, May 30th. He served as a messenger as he sat in his wheelchair, quiet and dignified, dressed in his highly decorated military uniform, reminding us that Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring. At the same time, he told everyone that he was there thanks to Delaware Hospice, conveying the message that hospice represents choice and quality of life.

Sarge joined the Air Corps at 18 years old in 1943 and was sent directly to Europe where he served in Italy and Germany during World War II. He returned in 1947 but remained in the Air Force Reserves for 43 years, supporting military efforts through the Korean War, Bay of Pigs, and the Vietnam War. He helped establish the 46th Aerial Port Squadron and served there as First Sergeant.

Sarge earned high honors and a reputation for excellence and discipline. The Master Sergeant William J. Tucker Diamond Award was established to recognize members of the 46th Aerial Port Squadron who display “the high standards set by one of the unit’s “Founding Fathers, “ and the first 46 APS First Sergeant, William J. Tucker. The person selected annually for this award must exemplify the highest standards of military dress and appearance, fulfill the Air Force core values, and convey an honest spirit of patriotism.”

His strong sense of patriotism was established at an early age with the role model of his father who also served in the armed services. Sarge marched in his first Memorial Day Parade at the age of 8, playing his trombone, and hasn’t missed one since except for the years he was abroad in WWII. When asked which parade was the most memorable, he replied, “I guess this one.” Sarge has been a Delaware Hospice patient since February, and didn’t expect to make it to this one. When his nurse, Nancy, heard of his history of parades, she didn’t hesitate to assure him, “we’ll get you to that parade, don’t worry!’

U.S. Senator Joe Biden honored Sarge in his remarks: “I want to say something about a guy I find to be the epitome of what my father’s generation was. Bill “Sarge” Tucker is sitting over here in his uniform, and this is his 75th Memorial Day Parade in Wilmington. “He represents everything that we hold dear. His is a true definition of patriotism, not a phony patriotism of ‘flag waving’ and letting everyone else do the work. This is a guy who is here with his friends from Delaware Hospice; a guy who insisted on coming to this parade.

“I’ve been an admirer of Sarge for a long time, but I mean this from the bottom of my heart. You are everything this nation stands for. Whenever you were called, you answered the call and you never, never, ever forgot. While millions of people have confused Memorial Day with a holiday as opposed to a day of solemn memory, you have never forgotten the folks you left behind, or the ones who came home with you. And you have continued to think of every new generation of Veterans.

“I told Sarge, ‘Thanks for being here today,’ and he said, ‘I wouldn’t be here but for my Delaware Hospice nurse, Nancy, and my wife, Rita.’

“I told the folks from Delaware Hospice, if there are angels in heaven, they are all from hospice.”

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Veteran Charles (Charlie) Heinl

On January 4, 1944, Charles (Charlie) Heinl left his hometown of Minster, Ohio at age 17. Little did he know that 10 months later he would be involved in the tragic sinking of the ship he was aboard, the USS Gambier Bay, and he himself would survive 42 hours hanging onto a life raft in the Pacific.

It happened 67 years ago, and the memories are captured in Heinl’s story which is one of the personal accounts of that tragic ocean battle on October 25, 1944. Heinl’s ship, a small escort carrier, was attacked by Japan’s largest battleship, the Yamato. The ship, Hienl recalled, “was monstrous.”

Today, Heinl, 85, of Maria Stein, OH, is a State of the Heart Hospice patient and is considering attending the annual reunion of the estimated 800 men who survived the Japanese attack. More than 120 of the ship’s sailors were killed.

The reunion is scheduled for October, 2011 in St. Louis. Time has taken its toll on the number of survivors, Heinl explained; only about 13 are still living and will likely attend. Whether he goes or not depends on his health and is somewhat “iffy” explained his wife Rita. An optimistic Heinl, responded, “There’s still a chance.” Family members have helped the couple attend in recent years. Heinl was one of the youngest men on the ship.

Heinl recalled he “jumped” into the water as the ship was going down. For a day, he had no life jacket and hung perilously to a life raft with other sailors. “As we watched back, we saw the ship roll over on its hull and begin to sink bow first, exposing the screws. It then sank,” he explained in his personal account of the battle on a “survivor’s page” on the Internet story about the sinking of the USS Gambier Bay.

In his account, he tells of the six to eight foot swells of water and how he and others took turns hanging onto the raft. “The men began seeing sharks and I thought I saw them too. Someone close to me was attacked. As time went on the sharks became a real menace.”

It was not until six hours after the Gambier went down that orders were issued to conduct a search and rescue mission. Staying alert and being aware of hallucinations became a problem as Heinl and the others struggled to stay awake. On October 27, 1944, they were finally rescue by a US PC boat. “The men rescuing us said they couldn’t get us out of the water fast enough as there were a lot of sharks in the area.”

Heinl escaped with only minor injuries and was later discharged from the Navy. But, his connection with the USS Gambier Bay was not over. Heinl, just as others, never got to see his shipmates again after the sinking of the ship. They all went their separate ways on various Navy assignments. That fateful day, however, lived in their minds. Just as others, Heinl, spoke rarely of his narrow escape from death. His dark memories of that day remained buried.

However, the thought of seeing his shipmates again lingered with him. He and several others he had contacted spent nearly two years trying to reconnect with their shipmates. “He would find phone books and get phone books of various cities across the country from friends and search through them for names of the survivors,” his wife explained.

Then, one day in October, 25 years to the day that the USS Gambier Bay went down, the survivors gathered for a reunion. It was the first time they had seen one another since the ship was sunk.

“I have never seen so many men cry at one time,” said Mrs. Heinl. “Charlie had never talked of the sinking of the ship much until then. I think it helped them all to openly talk about what they all went through.”

Heinl became active in the group and served as president, treasurer and secretary. Today, his son Mark has taken his position on the board. The couple has another son, John. The couple said they appreciate their hospice services. “Everyone is very nice and helpful to us,” Heinl said.

To this day, Heinl feels lucky that he was not seriously hurt in that tragic ship sinking 67 years ago. “I am happy to be alive after that experience,” he said from his comfortable home where he and Rita have lived for the past 56 years.

State of the Heart Hospice is very pleased to be part of NHPCO’s We Honor Veterans initiative. Kelley Hall, education coordinator for State of the Heart said, “All hospices nationwide are serving veterans, but in many instances are not aware of the patient’s Armed Forces service. Our veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country and now it’s our turn to proudly serve them. Now, it’s time for us to step up, acquire the necessary skills and fulfill our mission to serve these men and women with the dignity they deserve. State of the Heart Hospice is proud to be providing care to Mr. Heinl.”

The NHPCO launched the “We Honor Veterans” campaign as a collaborative effort with the nation’s VA Centers. The resources of We Honor Veterans focus on respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgement, coupled with Veteran-centric education of health care staff caring for veterans.
By Larry Kinneer,
State of the Heart Hospice

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HARRIS, N.Y. — It takes innovation, passion, and a willingness to fiercely confront challenges head-on to have the level of impact The Center for Discovery is making.

A newly released economic impact study highlights how The Center for Discovery is improving the local and state economy, the fields of education, healthcare and research, and most of all, the lives of individuals with complex disabilities. Still Sullivan County’s largest employer, The Center has created more than $1 billion of economic impact for the State of New York between 2011 and 2016. The non-profit organization generates nearly $200 million of economic activity for the state each year, according to the report, entitled “Transforming Lives Through Research, Innovation & Economic Development.”

From just 25 employees in 1980, The Center has grown to 1,560 employees in 2016, and it pays an average compensation that is 33 percent higher than the average private sector wage in Sullivan County. The Center has invested $9 million over the last decade into the hamlet of Hurleyville’s downtown area, refurbishing small businesses and building the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab, Hurleyville Arts Centre and sidewalks to benefit the public as well as residents and students of The Center. Major philanthropy, government grants, infrastructure support and new businesses have all contributed to these revitalization efforts, and their success has created jobs, preserved land, improved the local economy, and enhanced the lives of students, residents, and the whole community.

“Disability care has been stifled by the historic bigotry of a system with almost nonexistent expectations for individuals with complex conditions to have a quality of life,” said Patrick H. Dollard, President and CEO of The Center for Discovery. “We challenge that. We believe all people can have a meaningful life. We use research, philanthropy, public-private partnerships and other innovations to continually build better lives for our residents and students. But the best part is that this is good for everyone- our research breakthroughs can assist people with any form of brain dysregulation, from dementia to normal aging. And the private philanthropy we’ve brought to our local community of Hurleyville have resulted in resources like the Hurleyville Arts Centre and the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab, which everyone benefits from.”

Among the highlights of the report:

  • The Center’s pioneering practices are internationally-recognized and have led to its designation as a New York State Center of Excellence;
  • The Center is uniquely positioned to conduct groundbreaking research that will improve health and learning outcomes for thousands of individuals with Autism and medical complexities worldwide;
  • The Center’s public-private partnerships have brought in significant external funds that would not otherwise have entered Sullivan County;
  • The Center’s Hurleyville revitalization initiatives serve as a model for how a prominent institution can play a leading role in economic redevelopment while creating more inclusive and supportive communities;
  • In 2016, The Center paid nearly $200,000 in direct property taxes while generating $9.9 million total state and local tax revenue;

The Center for Discovery is a provider of healthcare and education services for more than 1,200 children and adults with complex disabilities, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders, located 90 miles northwest of New York City. It has long been a leader in developing new models of care for individuals with complex conditions. On 1,500 acres of land in Sullivan County, The Center houses school campuses, residences, medical and research facilities, organic and biodynamic farmland, and leased private businesses. Deeply focused on an individual’s personal potential and possibilities, rather than a disability, The Center strives to create better care and opportunity for the most vulnerable populations.

Read the full report here: View Fullscreen

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By Daniel Axelrod
Times Herald-Record 

HURLEYVILLE – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday that he and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have introduced bipartisan legislation to remove roadblocks to industrial hemp growth and production.

Schumer made the announcement at the Center for Discovery’s Michael Ritchie Big Barn Center for Environmental Health and Education in Hurleyville, where the Center is in its second year of a three-year hemp-growing trial.

Working with SUNY Sullivan, which has a state-issued permit to grow small amounts of hemp, the Center experimented last year on less than an acre to find the best practices for hemp production.

The bi-partisan Senate bill, supported by Sens. McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, Schumer, and Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, would:

* Remove industrial hemp as a federally classified Schedule 1 drug on par with heroin

* Empower states to choose whether to allow hemp growth and production

* Make states the principle regulators of hemp

* Permit hemp farmers to apply for crop insurance

* Allow hemp researchers to apply and compete for U.S. Department of Agriculture grants.

Little hemp is currently grown in New York, which also lacks production facilities, except for several dozen farms that have state exemptions to grow small amounts for research purposes, Schumer said.

Yet, there’s no reason for the prohibition, the senator added, given that hemp contains miniscule amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s principle psychoactive substance, and hemp can be used for a long list of industrial products from paper to bioplastics and fabric.

“It’s a crock,” said Schumer, who stressed the bipartisan nature of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which also has been introduced in the House. “It makes no sense that the DEA is the primary regulator, and that they stop farmers and investors from growing hemp.”

“Why are we buying hemp from other countries, when we have hundreds of acres that could be grown right here in our backyard?” Schumer said of the more than $600 million in hemp products the U.S. imports.

With hundreds of acres of hemp already authorized to be grown in the region for research purposes, Schumer thinks the mid-Hudson is poised for tremendous economic growth if the feds give New York the ability legalize hemp.

The state currently allows farmers in Sullivan County to grow more than 21 acres of hemp, 426 acres are permitted in Orange County, and seven acres are authorized in Ulster County.

“It couldn’t be a better product … and New York would benefit overnight” from growing hemp, said Patrick Dollard, the Center for Discovery’s president and CEO, who called on more study for the medicinal potential of cannabidiol, which comes from hemp oil.

SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance agreed, adding that “the impact can be profound” for education and the economy if New York is allowed to legalize hemp.

Full article link:

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Holbrook, N.Y. (PRWEB) May 09, 2018

American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. (AP) CEO Lon T. Dolber was formally acknowledged by The Center for Discovery (The Center) as its 2018 Honoree at the non-profit organization’s annual “Evening of Discovery Gala,” which was held May 2, 2018, at Pier Sixty, Chelsea Piers in New York, N.Y, and attended by prominent guests within the spheres of business, health care and entertainment. The event, which was underwritten by AP so proceeds would benefit the non-profit organization, raised more than $1 million in gross revenue to support The Center’s essential programs and services.

The “Evening of Discovery” is the signature fundraising event for The Center—an internationally-recognized research and innovation center that provides high-quality programs and unique opportunities for personal growth—that serves nearly 1,200 children and adults annually who have complex disabilities, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Dolber, a major philanthropic leader with a long history of giving back to the community, was chosen as the 2018 Honoree for his exceptional leadership and dedication to The Center’s mission. “Beyond my humble appreciation for being recognized by The Center is the privilege of spending time together year after year with The Center’s residents, students and their staff, joined by AP employees and affiliated colleagues for a weekend Adventure Team Challenge,” said Dolber of the honor. “Each time has created wonderful, transformative experiences for everyone involved; by taking the time to see the reflection of humanity in any shape or form, you inevitably see a reflection of yourself. Corporate social responsibility is a significant part of AP’s mission statement and a big part of what draws investment professionals and staff members to AP, all with common values for making a difference in people’s lives locally, nationally and even globally.”

“We are thrilled to recognize Lon Dolber as our 2018 Evening of Discovery Honoree and our 10-year partnership with AP to provide extraordinary outdoor and athletic experiences to the residents and students at The Center,” said Patrick H. Dollard, president and CEO of The Center. “Lon is not only a respected leader of a highly successful financial services firm, but someone who has emerged as one of our most passionate advocates with a unique gift for bringing people together to achieve transformative things.”

In 2001, Dolber founded AP—a privately-held, independent broker/dealer that services financial advisors across the United States—with the vision of like-minded financial professionals to provide unbiased advice for the investing public. AP’s strong infrastructure supports the client service needs and investment oversight of more than $25 billion dollars in assets under management. Additionally, as AP’s chief investment officer with 38 years’ experience working in the financial services industry, Dolber’s financial product and service knowledge as an investment professional—combined with a strong technological background—has provided both the firm and the industry with leadership and strategic thinking to the business challenges of the day, as well as opportunities for the future.

The Gala, which was attended by more than 800 guests, kicked off with a cocktail reception that was followed by formal dinner programs and a performance by Dolber’s That Motown Band. Many among the guest list hailed from Fortune 500 companies, the stage and screen—including longtime supporters of The Center actors Aidan Quinn (“Elementary”), Lorraine Bracco (“The Sopranos”) and Didi Conn (“Grease”), as well as prominent members of the financial services industry: Xtiva Financial Systems, Inc., Gerstein Fisher, Franklin Templeton Investments, Hilton Capital Management, Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. Also in attendance were co-host of Good Day New York Rosanna Scotto, lead anchor for WABC Eyewitness News Bill Ritter, owner of the New York Islanders John Ledecky, and former head coach for the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns Eric Mangini. The event afforded various opportunities to lend financial support to The Center, such as through an auction—conducted both online and live at the Gala by famed auctioneer Guy Bennett—that offered unique experiences, including a guest appearance on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; VIP tickets to daytime and primetime talk shows, and sold-out concerts; and exciting excursions, such as an exclusive tour of the Vatican and Papal Basilicas in Italy, which drew the largest single donation of $17,000.

Dolber, who also serves as the vice chairman for World T.E.A.M. Sports (WTS), is the organizational force behind the partnership with WTS, a non-profit organization that brings adaptive and able-bodied athletes together by empowering individuals through inclusive athletic events. The Center has partnered with AP and WTS since 2010 to present the Adventure Team Challenge (ATC) for challenged athletes from The Center. Groups of The Center’s participants partake in a series of athletic, recreational and outdoor experiences to provide a sense of achievement and teamwork for those with significant physical and behavioral disabilities. Each year, a number of AP employees, friends, disabled veterans and others volunteer to serve as team members and assist The Center staff in providing essential logistical support to these events. Dolber has also been instrumental in implementing, supporting and participating in other socially responsible events, including the Return to Kilimanjaro Expedition; 11 Face of America (FOA) bike rides; the Coastal Team Challenge; and the cross-country Sea to Shining Sea and Ottawa-to-Washington, D.C., CanAm Veterans Challenge bike rides.

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Ozone Park


The platform at the Rockaway Boulevard subway station – Ozone Park’s busiest transit hub – in 1982. 

Though it is 10 miles from the nearest ocean, the sea breeze is what brought people to Ozone Park – and it’s what the neighborhood is named for.

The history of Ozone Park dates back to 1882, when the neighborhood was founded in what was then a rural part of Queens County located on a plain sloping toward Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The neighborhood was settled near the small hamlet of Centreville, near the current location of Centreville Street and Albert Road. Ozone Park got its name by the 19th Century term for ocean breezes – ozone – meant to attract urban dwellers from Manhattan and Brooklyn to the suburban-like atmosphere with sea breezes coming off the Atlantic.

The Long Island Rail Road came through two years after the neighborhood’s founding, with two stations, the Ozone Park station at 101st Avenue and 100th Street, and Aqueduct at the current Aqueduct-North Conduit Avenue subway station.
That triggered a population boom in the neighborhood and over the next century, In 1915, the subway came to the neighborhood when the elevated line over Liberty Avenue, which now carries the ‘A’ train, was constructed between Brooklyn and Lefferts Boulevard, allowing for quicker commutes to Manhattan.

By the mid-20th Century, the community became a destination for first- and second-generation Italian and Irish immigrants and grew to be one of the most prominent Italian-American communities in the country. Ozone Park became well known for being a working class community where faith and family reigned supreme.


With the Italian-Americans came what some argue is the best pizza in the United States, and some of the best Italian food this side of the Mediterranean Sea.

In the mid- to late-20th Century, Ozone Park became a hub of Mafia activities. It was here where large trucks stolen from JFK Airport during the Lufthansa heist were hidden on residential streets, and it was on 101st Avenue where Mafia don John Gotti set up shop at the Bergen Hunt and Fish Club. In 1984, Gotti’s reality show-star daughter Victoria was married at St. Mary Gate of Heaven Church, the gothic-style green spire-topped house of worship that dominates the neighborhood’s skyline and proudly states the neighborhood’s Roman Catholic heritage.

Indeed SMGH is one of several Catholic churches in the community, which include Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Elizabeth and St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr churches.

Since the late 1980s, the demographic of the neighborhood has changed dramatically. Though there is still a noticeable Italian-American presence, a growing population of Indo-Caribbeans – especially Guyanese and Trinidadian – and South Asians have made Ozone Park their home. Today, Ashrams, gurdwaras and mosques join the imposing Catholic churches, as Ozone Park becomes a center of faith and family for another generation of immigrants.

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For Ozone Park’s Barbara Bocklage, taking on a puppy from Canine Companions for Independence was a no-brainer.

Bockage worked with handicapped children before retirement. Searching for a sense of purpose, she stumbled upon Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit that trains assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities at no cost to the recipient, after a conversation with her sister.

“My sister is a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. There’s a dog there that came from Canine Companions named Rico,” said Bocklage. “I’ve been wanting a dog, and after my sister spoke with Rico’s owner, she helped me get in contact with her to learn more about the program.”

Canine Companions for Independence places 8-week-old puppies into the homes of puppy raisers where they learn basic commands and socialization skills. Once the dogs are about 1 1/2 years old, they are returned to the Canine Companions for Independence regional headquarters in Medford, NY, where they begin six months of professional training with the organization’s nationally renowned instructors.

After they undergo training, the pups are then matched with a child, adult or veteran with disabilities, and spend two weeks at the facility with their recipients. The pups then attend a graduation ceremony where the volunteer puppy raiser is invited to ceremoniously pass the leash off to the new recipient.

“You can give money to any charity, but do you really know where it goes?” Bocklage said. “That’s the best part of Canine Companions. We carry the load and then we get to give the dog to the person who was matched with the dog.”

Bocklage started the application process to receive her puppy, a golden retriever named Kimber, back in September 2017. Once she brought Kimber home, Bocklage was ecstatic and knew that this was meant for her.

“Ever since I retired I was looking for a sense of purpose,” Bocklage said. “I’ve always had dogs and after not having one for 10 years, it was time. After finding Canine Companions, I knew it was right for me.”

“My husband didn’t want a dog, but he’s the one who gives her treats for her potty training,” Bocklage said, laughing. “My 23-year-old niece is ecstatic about Kimber. Even my sister, who is highly asthmatic, wants to come over all the time to see the dog.”

Kimber has become quite popular in the neighborhood as well.

“She’s the star of the block,” Bocklage said. “She’s also a man-magnet. I was walking her through the neighborhood once with her little yellow vest on and a man who was working on cement came running over and said, ‘I have to pet this dog!’ She’s the best little girl.”

In the next year or so, Kimber will return to the Canine Companions for Independence headquarters for additional training. Bocklage knows that returning Kimber will be hard, but acknowledges that she will light up the lives of the people she comes in contact with.

“She was the happiest hello and will be the hardest goodbye,” Bocklage said. “Everyone falls in love with her, and I think that has something to do with what her purpose is. It makes everyone light up.”

For more information about becoming a puppy raiser, visit cci.org


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The Discovery Health Center



The Discovery Health Center is recognized by NCQA as a Level III Patient-Centered Medical Home, meeting their highest level of recognition. The Department of Health certified Article 28 Health Center provides services for our students and residents, as well as select services for the broader community. We facilitate partnerships between patients, their families, and their physicians.



Primary Care: We are a central resource for all healthcare needs, providing services for children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and other special needs. Our primary care team includes physicians and nurses that are dedicated to helping patients live the healthiest life possible.

Specialty Care: Services include Audiology, Cardiology, Nutrition Experts, Gastroenterology, Ophthalmology, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, Physiatry, Podiatry, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Pulmonology.

Dentistry: Providing general dentistry to the community, including preventative examinations, cleanings, restorative treatment, gum evaluation/treatment, and other minor procedures. We have a relationship with our local hospital to provide sedation dentistry. We specialize in compassionate and comprehensive care, especially for people who require more care and support.

Clinical Services:  Counseling, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Early Childhood Services, Assessments and Evaluations, and Assistive Technology are all part of our clinical services.

Assessments and Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Evaluations: We offer multidisciplinary diagnostic evaluations individually tailored to each person’s unique needs. Our team of highly skilled, experienced and licensed clinicians work together over a period of one to five days to examine an individual’s functioning and needs within their particular physical and social environments. At the conclusion of the assessment, they meet with individuals and their families to make recommendations to maximize improvement and independence in the areas of school, health and daily living.

We accept Medicare, Medicaid and most Private Insurances. Individual insurance coverage will vary and prior approval may be required. Private pay and school district requested assessments are also available and can be customized for an individual discipline assessment or a more comprehensive, intensive assessment.

Universal Design & Assistive Technology Institute: The Center has long been a pioneer in developing universal design solutions that improve functioning and quality of life for people with disabilities. As an example, our Flex-table™ is commercially available and speaks to the thoughtfulness of The Center’s design innovation; the design accommodates people with different physical needs, allowing them the experience of eating and interacting together. The IndieGo is a current project, focused on developing a new technology to expand opportunities and access for people who use wheelchairs.

Doctors and Key Staff: We are proud to have a diverse staff providing a variety of specialized services. To view a full list of staff please contact the clinic.

To Schedule an Appointment Call: (845) 707-8400

Hours of Operation:  9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Monday through Friday

Some services available evenings and weekends by appointment.

We accept Medicare, Medicaid and most Private Insurances.

Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in cooperation with Crystal Run Healthcare.

The Discovery Health Center Announces “Patient Portal” through eClinicalWorks, featuring leading edge technology to promote healthcare and allow our patients convenient access of their medical records. Click Here to Download Information on How to Sign-up for “Patient Portal”

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