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GUEST OP-ED - An old cavalry man looks back on 90

By By Sol Polish

What is unique about my life is the fact that I was born during World War I. I recall the way most of us were astonished by the fact that there were still some survivors of WWI.

I attribute my longevity to my years of active duty and the rigors of serving in the army. My division newsletter has a column listing a taps section. The list grows longer with every issue.

I know that my readers are not interested in my life story. Every veteran has his own tale to tell, but regardless of negative feedback, I plan to continue this tale.

I am a Brooklynite living in Flatlands and a former member of the Fort Hamilton Officers Club. This club is now a community club open to the general public. My years in the service began with the horse cavalry. This ended with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The horses were soon gone and replaced by armor which became my primary service.

VE Day meant that many service persons serving in the ETO were on their way home. I joined a group of officers who volunteered for the impending invasion of the mainland of Japan. We were sent to Le Harve for eventual shipment to the Pacific where VE Day was of no consequence to the ones serving in the Pacific.

My group was held over until the bombing of Hiroshima and there was no need for us anymore. We were assigned to other areas rather than going home. I was assigned to Delta Base Section in Marseilles as a signal officer because of my specialty in cryptography. It was a gift from the gods. We lived in luxury and six months later I was assigned as Command Officer in the Calas Staging area. My job was to get the company ready for shipment home.

Arriving in the states, I signed up for the reserve and in September of 1950, my unit was activated for the Korean Conflict.

Until last year, I drove my car, but unfortunately, old age finally took its toll and I lost my ability to walk. I resigned from writing my column in both the Bay News and Harbor Watch. And so ends the story of my life. I sort of dread the day that my division newsletter lists me in the taps column, but there comes a time for all of us and I can’t complain, because I had some 90 years of the good life.

Sol Polish was the author of Remembering Brooklyn a weekly column that ran in this paper for many years. He is retired and enjoying life with wife Lil.

Trailblazing Fort Hamilton Army Base chief, Col. Tracey E. Nicholson was bid a fond farewell when the Rankin Healy post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars feted her with a reception in Bay Ridge.

The New Jersey native, who became the first woman to command the 182-year-old Bay Ridge base in 2005, is heading to Baghdad to serve as Secretary of the Combined and Joint Staff under the US’s top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.

Nicholson, 47, a decorated colonel and recipient of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, was joined by her husband, Ret. Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Nicholson, during the pomp-filled program, held at NOX above the post base, 9312 4th Avenue.

Post Commander Angel Rios presented an award to the beloved leader, who is among a choice group of African-Americans around the country to have led a military installation.

Nicholson will be succeeded by Col. Stephen V. Smith, who was stationed in Germany as deputy commander of the 37th Transportation Command, at the formal Change of Command ceremony on June 10.

The time-honored tale of an Ethiopian princess, captured and brought into slavery in Egypt, commanded a rapt audience in Bay Ridge when starry-eyed students performed “Aida” at Xaverian High School.

Budding actors from the drama group staged the four-act opera by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, transforming the auditorium of the school, 1700 Shore Road, into a mini-Lincoln Center.

The costumed crew brought the timeless love story to life with Josephine Spada, Anthony Liatsis and Amanda Magnavita in the lead roles.

Aida is an Arabic female name, meaning “visitor,” or “returning.” In Swahili, it is a female name meaning “reward.”

Big-hearted youngsters at St. Anselm’s Church reserved a thought for their underprivileged neighbors by coordinating a drive during Lent at the Bay Ridge house of worship for Lent.

The Rev. Michael Gelfant and the altar servers placed a crib in front of the church, 4th Avenue and 82nd Street, inviting parishioners to donate new items for newborn babies and gift cards for teenagers.

The altar boys and girls then packed the items and loaded them into Rev’ Gelfant’s car before transporting them to the Mercy First Angel Guardian Campus, 6301 12th Avenue.

Lutheran HealthCare continues its yearlong celebration of its 125th anniversary by honoring every 125th baby born at Lutheran Medical Center.

LHC presents the families of each 125th baby with a gift basket from Babies R’ Us and also enters each honoree into an end-of-the-year savings bond raffle worth $1,250.

Lutheran Medical Center is located at 150 55th Street.

Get up close and personal with the queen of green.

Springtime’s here and what better place to feast your eyes upon her heart-stopping hues than at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Mother Nature’s majesty is in full bloom at the emerald empire where bursts of buds and blossoms vie for attention with an explosion of flowers and trees, providing a bounteous backdrop for nature lovers to soak in the iridescent sea of color bathing every fold and furrow of the borough’s premier hothouse, 1000 Washington Avenue.

Garden hours are: Tuesday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; weekends and holidays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Monday (but open holiday Mondays).

For more information about programming and special events, call 718-623-7200, or visit www.bbg.org.

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