Tag Archives: iraq

Iraq veteran is valedictorian at York College


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

York College Commencement 2012.

While leading a patrol on a well-known supply route in Iraq from Fallujah to Ramadi, Marine Tony Wan spotted a slight disturbance on the path.

Following his training to question his suspicions, he drove closer.

When he realized it was an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) it was too late, and before he could turn back and finish yelling “I-E-D” to his comrades, his Humvee exploded.

Wan, now a 25-year-old resident of Fresh Meadows, survived the explosion with a minor concussion. In fact, it was the second explosion he’d survive while on tour in 2006.

“Going in I felt we were ready and well trained, but it was different than we expected,” Wan said of his tours.

During a later expedition Wan’s company lost two men, one his best friend, and today he wears a bracelet to commemorate them.

“It reminds me of the sacrifice that Marines like them make,” he said of the memento.

The veteran returned home after a second tour and enrolled at York College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY), in 2009.

Fast forward three years, and when York College hosted its 42nd commencement exercise for its largest graduating class on June 1, Wan was the valedictorian with a 3.99 GPA, standing out among the sea of 1,000 caps and gowns.

He was the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

For Wan, who majored in chemistry, the graduation marked a turnaround in his life.

Years earlier, he was struggling to graduate from Benjamin Cardozo High School. Ironically, he “failed chemistry three times,” and had to make up classes.

He voluntarily enlisted in the Marine Corps, because he realized his parents couldn’t afford to send both him and his brother to college.

However, he said the military was a positive experience, which enhanced his personality.

“Through the military I learned discipline and perseverance,” he said, which were the driving forces behind his return to the classroom.

With certificate in hand, he aims for a new goal — to go to medical school so he can help other veterans.

 

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

6 months for yeshiva perv

A yeshiva student admitted yesterday to inappropriately touching two 8-year-old girls to whom he was giving private religious instruction. Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter sentenced Hillel Selznicek, 25, to six months in prison, calling him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing’’ who “betrayed their trust in the most disgusting way.’’

Read More: New York Post

 

Weiner a jerk before crotchgate, craved media attention: book

Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner was behaving like a jerk long before the world got a glimpse of his crotch. A new book offering an inside look at the US House of Representatives depicts Weiner as a desperately ambitious loudmouth who berated his staff and would do or say anything for TV airtime. Weiner “would enter his office in the Rayburn Building screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Why the f–k am I not on MSNBC?!’” journalist Robert Draper wrote in “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives.” Read More: New York Post

 

Rapper guilty in ’93 slay

Former Bad Boy rapper G. Dep was convicted yesterday of a decades-old murder — a cold-case East Harlem shooting that was solved only when he walked into a station house two years ago and turned himself in, to square himself with God. The 37-year-old father of three now faces the mandatory minimum sentence for murder — 15 years. “I told him to not regret his decision and that God won’t abandon him,” said his lawyer, Anthony Ricco. “Trevell Coleman is a very courageous person,” he added, using the rapper’s given name. Read More: New York Post


Delta Flight With Blown Tire Able To Land Safely At JFK

John F. Kennedy International Airport had a nerve-wracking scene Wednesday as a Delta flight from Paris with a blown tire tried to land. A Delta spokesman says Flight 185 to New York blew the tire while taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. The crew was not sure if the tire was blown when the plane was airborne. The spokesman said air traffic controllers with binoculars were able to see the deflated tire during a fly-by before the landing at JFK. Tire debris was also found on the runway. Read More: NY1

 

NYPD’s Transit Patrol Dogs Now Train In Long Island City

The NYPD’s Transit K9 Unit has moved to Long Island City, Queens from Downtown Brooklyn, and MTA officials say part of the reason is so the new facility can be in the center of the city’s mass transit system. Read More: NY1

 

Sudan diplomat’s wife is shot, wounded by stray bullet in Queens

The wife of a Sudanese diplomat was struck by a stray bullet in Queens while she was with two of her young children, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday. The tots miraculously escaped injury. The violence unfolded as Mawahad Elbahi, 31, was carrying her year-old son and her 3-year-old daughter at her side on 31st Drive in Astoria Tuesday afternoon. They were waiting for her 5-year-old son to be dropped off by his school bus when bullets started to fly. Read More: Daily News

 

Queens kindergarten waiting lists up at zoned schools

The number of incoming Queens kindergartners who were wait-listed to get into their zoned public schools rose this year, according to city data. About 950 of the borough’s prospective kindergartners were on waiting lists. The longest in the borough was at Public School 307 in Corona where 109 were on the list — making it the city’s third-largest wait. The number of new Queens kindergartners waiting for seats is up roughly 7% over last year. Read More: Daily News

Thugs out for Blue blood


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Thugs out for Blue blood

Two sharp-eyed Brooklyn cops yesterday thwarted a drug-and-cash heist by nine heavily armed robbers dead-set on blowing away any cops who showed up — just as in the drug-related home invasion that killed Officer Peter Figoski, The Post has learned. The robbery crew was targeting a heroin dealer in East New York — the same neighborhood that Figoski spent his career protecting. A thief shot him after robbing a pot dealer Dec. 12. “They had the heavy firepower in case the cops were called,” said a law-enforcement source. Read More: New York Post

 

Bodega worker slain

Masked thieves followed a Bronx bodega worker home and shot him dead — within earshot of his son — in what cops believe was a botched robbery attempt. Investigators said Anselmo Porras, 51, left his store at 2840 Briggs Ave. just before midnight Tuesday, and was shadowed by three would-be robbers. As Porras opened the door to his apartment on Marion Avenue in Bedford Park, a short distance from his store, one of the men pulled a gun and tried to force his way inside. Porras, who had 12 children, struggled and ran into the apartment, screaming to his son inside, according to law-enforcement sources. Read More: New York Post

 

Burned body in Pennsylvania identified as Brooklyn business owner

A 30-year-old Brooklyn cafe owner who mysteriously vanished on Halloween was identified by authorities yesterday as the man found shot to death and burned in the woods of eastern Pennsylvania on Nov. 1, the following morning. Joshua Rubin — whose body was only recently identified through DNA and dental tests — opened the Whisk Bakery Cafe on Newkirk Avenue a month before disappearing. A day or two after his body was found near Allentown, his credit card was used at the Woodbury Commons retail outlets in Orange County, NY, sources told The Post. Read More: New York Post

 

Wave of bombings across Iraqi capital kills 69

A wave of 16 bombings ripped across Baghdad Thursday, killing at least 69 people in the worst violence in Iraq for months. The apparently coordinated attacks struck days after the last American forces left the country and in the midst of a major government crisis between Shiite and Sunni politicians that has sent sectarian tensions soaring. The bombings may be linked more to the U.S. withdrawal than the political crisis, but all together, the developments heighten fears of a new round of Shiite-Sunni sectarian bloodshed like the one a few years back that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war. Read More: New York Post

 

Teacher’s exposure lesson

Former Bronx teacher Melissa Petro, who was forced to give up her teaching job after revealing she worked as a hooker and stripper, will pose for Penthouse’s February issue for a story charmingly titled, “Unrepentant Whore.” The ex-educator, who now makes a living writing about her sexy past, has mixed feelings about the pictures, in which she appears partly nude. The shoot, at New York S&M dungeon Pandora’s Box, involved Petro posing in the clichéd role of a sexy teacher. In a column for xoJane.com, she writes that the photographer’s “vision, as he explained it that day, was for the ‘hooker’ teacher to reclaim her power — to take the butt of the joke and turn it around. When the shoot was over, amidst my signing of releases galore — including a creepy moment when they made me take a picture holding up my ID — I felt a momentary panic. Read More: New York Post

Queens killer who tore out woman’s heart and lungs gets sentenced up to 29 years


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens killer who tore out woman’s heart and lungs gets sentenced up to 29 years

A depraved killer who beat and choked a Queens woman to death before carving out her heart and lungs was sentenced to up to 29 years in prison Wednesday. Huang Chen, dressed in a lime-green jail jumpsuit, turned down Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter when asked if he had anything to say. Buchter wasn’t as reticent.The judge faulted the justice system for failing to protect Qian Wu, 46, after she took out six restraining orders against Chen, following repeated episodes of harassment. Read More: Daily News

Safe Space in Jamaica to expand services for LGBT youth in southeast Queens

A safe haven for hundreds of lesbian and gay youth in Queens will reach more students thanks to a new grant. Safe Space NYC, a nonprofit group that works with southeast Queens youth, is adding two new full-time staff members and expanding its clinical services for LGBT youth with support from a one-year grant of $120,000. “LGBT young people are in this community and they need community support,” said Cassie Aguilera, an outreach coordinator for Safe Space. “They come here because they feel they can be themselves.” The financial boost comes from the New York Community Trust, which has helped fund the Safe Space for decades. The grant supports a new youth specialist and a new social worker. Read More: Daily News

Suspects sought for a dozen robberies in Long Island City

Police are seeking a man and woman wanted in connection with 12 robberies — 11 of which have occurred over the past month. Most of the incidents have occurred between the morning and evening — during school and work hours — with the thieves entering through a window or door. Read More: Queens Courier

Hail, yea! Pols reach deal to bring street hails to outer boroughs

After months of negotiations and gridlock, the street hail bill finally received the green light. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday, December 20 an agreement had been reached to bring street hails to all five boroughs. The deal came just one day before the Wednesday, December 21 deadline. Read More: Queens Courier

NY man charged with attempted murder of NYPD cops

A New York City man suspected of firing at two police officers while wearing a disguise has been charged with attempted murder. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says 53-year-old Antonio Olmeda opened fire on two patrolmen as they tried to question him on December 2. They were uninjured. Prosecutors say Olmeda was wearing a trench coat, fedora, fake beard and glasses at the time. He refused to take his hands out of his pockets when asked by officers, and instead pulled out a gun and fired twice. He fled, shedding his disguise. Read More: Wall Street Journal

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s wife gives birth to baby boy

After a year filled with ridicule and scandal, disgraced former Congressmember Anthony Weiner finally has something he can feel proud about — a new baby boy. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, gave birth to the wee Democrat yesterday, 10 days before the New Year’s Eve due date, The Post has learned. Jordan Zane Weiner checked in at just over 7 pounds, a source said. The Post first reported in September that the couple was having a boy, months after Weiner’s political career crashed and burned in an embarrassing sexting scandal that forced him to resign from Congress. Read More: New York Post

Korean NYers Say Leader’s Death Presents New Worries, Hope

As news of Kim Jong Il’s death continues to spread, all eyes in New York’s Korean-American community are fixed on the peninsula. Read More & Watch the Video: NY1

Heroes back in New York City

They’ve traded Baghdad for Bayside. A cheery and teary group of reserve soldiers finally made it back to New York yesterday, ending their service in Iraq safe and sound. “I’ve been away for almost a year, and I’m so excited to be back with my family for Christmas and New Year’s,” said Sgt. Waseefa Baksh, 22, of Queens. “We were in Bahgdad for 11 months,” said Baksh, as she and other members of the 316th Sustainment Command were discharged at Fort Totten in Bayside. Read More: New York Post

Celebrate the end of the Iraq War


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

In January 2009, President Barack Obama took office with 142,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. Today, there are zero. Our combat mission in Iraq has ended and the Iraqi people now have full responsibility for the security of their nation. Obama has kept his word and brought the war in Iraq to a responsible end.

Iraq still faces challenges in the coming years, but as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated, “Iraq is equipped to deal with them.” Obama remains committed to Iraq’s long-term security and to the success of our service members when they return home.

While the war has ended, we should pay tribute to the service of our military men and women – especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice or were injured serving their nation. We should also honor the sacrifices and commitments made by their families here at home.

Now, as thousands of New Yorkers are returning home from Iraq, we must once again reaffirm our commitment and responsibility to support service members and their families by providing quality health-care, access to education, training to re-enter the civilian work force, job placement services and encouraging companies to hire our troops and put them back to work.

The promise to end the war in Iraq was not a political promise – it was and is a promise made by our Commander-in-Chief to protect our nation. Today we should be proud of our troops and our president, and stand united in moving forward as one nation.

 

Matthew Silverstein

Democratic State Committeeman, 26th AD

YDA Veterans & Military Affairs Caucus Chair

War in Iraq officially over


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

War in Iraq officially over

After nearly nine years, 4,500 American dead, 32,000 wounded and more than $800 billion, U.S. officials formally shut down the war in Iraq — a conflict that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said was worth the price in blood and money, as it set Iraq on a path to democracy. Panetta stepped off his military plane in Baghdad Thursday as the leader of America’s war in Iraq, but will leave as one of many top U.S. and global officials who hope to work with the struggling nation as it tries to find its new place in the Middle East and the broader world. Read More: Daily News

Figoski helped Brooklyn teen turn life around

Slain cop Peter Figoski had four daughters of his own and could not stand to see a young woman about their age take the wrong path. That woman, now 21, credits him with turning her life around. Velina Chaunce met Figoski when her mother, in desperation, called the 75th Precinct in gritty East New York to report her then-teenage daughter was acting out. Read More: New York Post

Scandals taking poll toll on Liu

Embattled city Comptroller John Liu is turning into a real Liu-ser with voters. A poll out today shows that Liu’s popularity has plummeted — following a torrent of negative publicity centering on a federal probe of his fund-raising operations and other shenanigans. Only 38 percent of voters now approve of the job Liu is doing, with 35 percent disapproving, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. His approval rating is down drastically from a Quinnipiac poll in May, when 57 percent approved of his job performance and 14 percent disapproved. Read More: New York Post

Uniting to help Woodside fire victims

The Woodside community has united to extinguish the needs of the 24 people whose lives were recently devastated by a fatal fire. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined Pastor Daniel Gilland, representatives from the American Red Cross and members of the families displaced by the two-alarm blaze — which spawned in and destroyed the two-story house located at 40-38 61st Street before spreading and causing severe damage to two neighboring homes — to announce a benefit drive organized in support of the victims. Read More: Queens Courier

On Queens Block, Losing a Link to Louis Armstrong

Selma Heraldo lived the entirety of her 88 years in a white, two-story house on 107th Street in Corona, Queens, and her life may have been very different had she not gained new next-door neighbors in 1943 — Louis Armstrong and his wife, Lucille. Heraldo quickly became known as Louis Armstrong’s next-door neighbor, a good friend to the jazz great. After Armstrong died in 1971 and Lucille Armstrong died in 1983, and their house was transformed into the Louis Armstrong House Museum, Heraldo became the main local living link to the couple. But now that link is gone. Heraldo died on December 2 in her house, where she had lived alone for many years. Read More: New York Times

New York Community Trust grant helps find jobs for Far Rockaway residents

At least 60 Far Rockaway residents will land jobs throughout the city in 2012 thanks to a new grant aimed at giving a boost to the isolated neighborhood in southeast Queens. The New York Community Trust awarded a $40,000 grant this month to Ocean Bay Community Development Corp., a local group that partners with public housing residents in Far Rockaway with job initiatives. Read More: Daily News

Jet ‘drug’ rage

The cowardly thug busted for sucker-punching Jet fan James Mohr outside MetLife Stadium Sunday is a drug-dealing ex-con with a lengthy rap sheet, public records show. Merle Lee, 35, of Newton, NJ, was charged with aggravated assault for the attack outside the New Jersey Meadowlands stadium after the Jets’ 37-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. The brute allegedly sucker-punched Mohr, 23, after the Queens schoolteacher objected to a woman screaming, “F–k New York!” and, “You all deserved what happened on 9/11!” Read More: New York Post

Malcolm X’s daughter locked up after she fails to pay Queens woman she swindled 

Malcolm X’s youngest daughter has been jailed for failing to make good on a promise to pay back the $55,000 she swindled from an elderly Queens woman. A Queens judge ordered Malikah Shabazz held Tuesday night after probation officials said she’d failed to make any of the monthly $1,229 restitution payments she agreed to as part of a plea deal. Shabazz ignored a judge’s order requiring her to live in New York while she serves out a five-year probation, court officials say. They say she’s apparently been living in St. Albans, Vt., above a bar that she’s looking to buy. She had $800 in her pocket when she was busted for the probation violation, a court official said. Read More: Daily News