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Actor Adrien Brody salutes Rego Pk. soldier

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While millions of viewers around the world were watching the Academy Awards Sunday, Ada and Thomas Zarobinski were tuned into the 11 o'clock news in their Rego Park apartment awaiting updates on the Iraqi conflict in hopes of finding out where their son, Thomas Jr., might be fighting.

But just as Thomas Sr. was about to doze off on the couch, he heard a loud knock on the door. A neighbor rushed in to tell the couple that Adrien Brody, a native of Woodhaven and longtime friend of their son, had just won the Best Actor award and sent greetings to the Army specialist in his acceptance speech.

"It was the biggest day of (Adrien's) life and he took time out and mentioned my son's name," Thomas Sr. said in an interview at his apartment Tuesday night. "Looking back, it was wonderful."

Thomas Sr. said his heart sank into his stomach when the neighbor, Al Byron, told him his son had been on the news because he feared Thomas Jr. had been killed. Instead, Thomas Sr. said, he was delighted to hear Brody had sent a message to his son who up until recently had been stationed in Kuwait.

"Those two, they always had chemistry together," the father said. "Tommy always has his phone number."

Thomas Jr. has been friends with Brody since the pair met while at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan, the parents said. Thomas Jr., 31, is fighting somewhere in Iraq and his parents have been unable to contact him or send him mail for several weeks, Thomas Sr. said.

At the school, Brody studied acting and Thomas Jr. studied drawing, the parents said. After one year Thomas Jr. decided to return to high school in Forest Hills.

The Zarobinskis said their son and Brody keep in contact constantly and regularly get together when Brody is visiting New York from his new home in California. They said the friends usually play basketball or sit at their usual café in Manhattan and talk about life while drinking cappuccinos.

Brody, who grew up only blocks away from Zarobinski on 85th Road, was unavailable for comment, but in his speech his feelings for Thomas Jr. were evident.

"I have a friend from Queens who's a soldier in Kuwait right now, Tommy Zarobinski," he said. "And I hope you and your boys make it back real soon. God bless you guys. I love you. Thank you very much."

Thomas Sr. said his son, who previously served with the United Nations in Kosovo and Macedonia, had been in Kuwait since November. He said he and his wife had been sending mail to the 773rd Transportation Company but have since stopped because they do not know where their son is stationed.

Following a media blitz this week, the worried parents still had no news as to the whereabouts of their son. They said their last communication from Thomas Jr. was difficult to deal with because he said he would have to isolate himself from communicating with them.

"He said being in Kuwait was like being on a beach with no water," his father said. "But he would not tell us what he was going to do."

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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