Tag Archives: Veteran

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.

 

Queens filmmaker memorializes uncle’s World War II experiences


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Queens resident and military veteran Joe Reveman’s experiences during World War II are forever memorialized in a biographical film depicting his life as an active member of the United States Armed Forces.

Filming began almost two years ago when Reveman’s nephew, Bryant Falk, proposed the idea for a documentary. Falk always enjoyed hearing his uncle’s stories depicting his days in the Army. Having previous experience as a commercial film director, Falk saw this as a great chance to make his first documentary-style movie.

Reveman was drafted to be a pilot in the Air Force of the United States Army in 1943

“I was young, 18. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t have much of a choice,” said Reveman. “When I got to England I was apprehensive, but I was glad to help at the end of the war.”

As the war continued, Reveman became a radio operator onboard B17 Bomber planes. Their mission was to obliterate the German air and railroad supply.

He flew 24 missions over Germany. His last mission took place on Friday, April 13, 1945.

“It’s a date that will live in infamy in my mind,” said Reveman.

Flying in formation, the planes prepared to release their bombs over Germany. One plane’s bomb release malfunctioned and several bombs dropped at the same time, striking each other and exploding. Reveman’s plane lost control.

The pilot regained control of the plane and they began to gradually descend over the border between England and German-occupied territory. Unsure of which side they would touch down on, the crew prepared for a wheels-up landing.

But as the wheels touched ground, they struck a slab of marble, slicing the plane in half.

When Reveman regained consciousness, he crawled from the crushed aluminum.

“I saw blue skies,” he said.

Trucks appeared in the distance. Still unsure of his location, Reveman hoped the approaching vehicles were those of the Allied Forces. A Red Cross ambulance with a United States insignia pulled up next to the destroyed plane.

“Everyone breathed a little easier,” said Reveman.

The line where Reveman crashed had been occupied by American forces only a few days prior. Two weeks later, the war ended.

Reveman received a Purple Heart award and five air medals, one medal for every five missions he flew.

World War II vet awarded Bronze Star


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A 91-year-old war veteran was recently awarded with the U.S. Army’s Bronze Star Medal.

Arno Heller, a former sniper in World War II, was honored by Congressmember Bob Turner in a ceremony for the Rego Park native on February 3.

“Mr. Heller is a prime example of a man who puts country before self,” Turner said. “As a private in the army, he rose to the occasion — putting his life on the line to defend his adopted homeland and the principles it stands for.”

Heller was awarded for his achievement in the Rhineland Campaign of 1944.

“It’s very emotional because, after all these years, sometimes I lie awake at night and a lot of memories come back. No bad memories. It’s been a terrific experience,” Heller said. “This means so much — I can hardly describe it… I am speechless.”

The event was held at American Legion Post 1424 in Forest Hills. Among those in attendance were Post Commander Tom Long, Major Charles Jaquillard of the Fort Hamilton Army Garrison in Brooklyn and Commissioner Terrance Holliday of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs.

“Private Heller joins an elite class of United States servicemen and women who exceed the call of duty to protect our nation and his or her fellow soldiers. Mr. Heller bravely defended his country and his brethren in arms, and today our nation says thank you,” Turner said.

The Bronze Star is a U.S. Armed Forces individual military decoration and the fourth highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service. It is the ninth highest military award, including both combat and non-combat.

Saluting those who served


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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After serving their country, the veterans of Post 298 of the American Legion came home to serve their community.

To honor them, Councilmember Daniel Dromm visited the post, located at 30-61 87th Street in Jackson Heights, on September 19 and presented eight veterans with City Council Citations for their outstanding work towards the betterment of the neighborhood.

The councilmember, who sits on the City Council’s Committee on Veterans, praised the honorees and expressed gratitude for their contributions.

“It is important to remember the extraordinary sacrifices you have made,” Dromm told the veterans. “Now, it is our duty to ensure that we continue to provide the care and benefits that you deserve for serving our country.”

The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans’ service organization, founded to benefit those who served during a wartime period.

The members of Post 298 were proud to host the councilmember and apreciative of the recognition he bestowed upon them.

“I think it was fantastic to have the councilmember here,” said John Polidoro, a Vietnam veteran and the commander of the American Legion Post 298. “He is constantly fighting for the city to recognize its veterans and to improve their benefits. I feel like he is attuned with what veterans have done. He was very gracious, and we were honored to have him. He was the absolute perfect person to come and meet with us.”