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Bay Terrace street named for famed WWII division

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A small crowd of elderly 100th Infantry Division World War II veterans gathered at the corner of Bell Boulevard and 212th Street in Bayside Saturday, socializing with each other as they waited for the unveiling of a new street sign named in their honor.

“This is terrific,” said Richard Rebolledo of Westchester. “We’ll be here forever. For whom the bell tolls? It tolls for the 100th Division.”

The 100th Infantry Division had about 14,000 soldiers during World War II, said Kit Bonn, a military historian and retired lieutenant colonel. Of those, 2,327 were from New York City and Long Island, including 429 from Queens.

According to Bonn, the 100th Infantry Division fought against the Germans in the High Vosges Mountains on the edge of the French province of Alsace during the winter of 1944. During 185 days of uninterrupted ground combat, the 100th Division liberated and captured more than 400 cities, towns and villages, defeated major elements of eight German divisions and took 13,351 prisoners.

In the campaign, 916 100th Infantry Division soldiers were killed and 3,656 were wounded. In addition, 180 men were reported as missing in action.

“We would not be here if it wasn’t for the men and women who died for democracy,” said Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who spoke at the street renaming ceremony, followed by state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty.

Sam Resnick, a member of the board of directors of the 100th Infantry Division, said he had spearheaded the effort to have a street named after the division because members of the division were “getting extinct yearly.”

“We needed a legacy for our division,” said Resnick, 77. “I decided to push for a sign.”

Besides providing a landmark that 100th Infantry Division veterans can be proud of, organizing a street renaming ceremony also allowed veterans to get in touch with old comrades they have not seen in years, said Resnick, after reading off a list of about 25 infantry members who were supposed to attend the event.

“Where’s Jim Reagan? I haven’t seen him for 59 1/2 years and it’s wonderful. We’re going to be seeing each other,” Resnick said.

Veteran Jim Wade recalled learning to use an M-1 rifle when he joined the Army at age 18.

“It’s all different now. I mean, now they have tanks and all kinds of stuff,” he said.

There are about 2,000 veterans of the 100th Infantry Division in the country today, Resnick said. Active members of the group and their families meet every year at a national convention.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 718-229-0300, ext. 155.

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