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Listening to the Military channel, the PBY Catalina was the subject. The PBY performed far beyond expectations in the Pacific sinking a large number of ships. The feat was so remarkable that General MacArthur gave them a special commendation. When a high ranking naval officer asked how the PBY squadron could accomplish such destruction of the Japanese warships with the limited capabilities of the PBY which was not designed for this type of action, the pilot replied, saying that they just didn't know that the PBY wasn't designed that way. He said that they just did it.
The segment about the PBY reminded me of the war heroes we have at Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field in Hangar B where the Historical Aircraft Restoration Project is located. We have as volunteers many veterans in WW2, Korea and Vietnam. These guys did themselves proud serving their country in war and now once again serving heir country as volunteers at HARP.
Three volunteers in particular come to mind in relation to the story of the PBY heroes.
We have our very own PBY hero in the hangar, Irving Krasner, a guy who piloted a PBY in WW2. Irving now oversees the reconstruction of a plane in our hangar that he loves, the PBY. This is a gigantic project as the PBY we have needs lots of work. Irving was a young lad during the time he was in action flying the fabulous PBY.
Another HARP hero is Sam Zins, a former B-17 bomber pilot who flew the historical B-17 in the ETO bombing targets, which proved to be a real headache to the Nazis. Sam loved airplanes as a kid and made his dream come true learning to fly as a teenager.
Skipping to the Navy, little is or was known of a service that contributed so much to the war effort. The Armed Guard, a part of the U.S. Navy, consisted mostly of volunteers. This was dangerous duty and only the brave at heart volunteered. The Armed Guard served on merchant ships along with the Merchant Marine. They delivered the war materials overseas at great risk. German U-boats targeted them all the way across the Atlantic, sometimes with great success, sinking the slow moving freighters. Loss of life among the armed guard and the merchant mariners came to horrible totals. One of our HARP heroes Mike Molinari volunteered over and over again.
On the ground pulverizing the enemy was Gene Boglioli in the artillery. Gene started soldiering long before Pearl Harbor and rose to the highest enlisted rank. Command Sgt. Major. He earned commendations and a medal from the French Government.
We have Tom Hennity who flew countless missions in the Pacific in bombers. Tom proudly still wears his flight jacket when he attends meetings at HARP.
The winter plays havoc with our HARP operations. The hangar is too cold for the men to work. To continue planning and lectures, we meet in the building weekly until the spring.
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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