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Students Participate in WWII History Project; Veterans Memorial Plaza To Be Dedicated Nov. 10

Contact:

Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
phyllis.cohen-stevens@qc.cuny.edu

(718) 997-5597

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
maria.matteo@qc.cuny.edu
(718) 997-5593

STUDENTS RESEARCH QC STUDENTS WHO DIED IN WORLD WAR II;

GRADUATE ARNOLD FRANCO, CLASS OF ’43, FUNDS NEW VETERANS MEMORIAL PLAZA

--College To Dedicate the Plaza on November 10;
59 Names of Deceased Will Be Inscribed--

FLUSHING, NY, October 20, 2006 -- During World War II, 60% of Queens College students enlisted or were called to duty (942 out of a class of 1,600). Founded in 1937, the college graduated its first class in the same year that our nation was drawn into the conflict. One student, Arnold Franco (class of ’43), now age 83, served with an elite group of code breakers, the 3rd Radio Mobile Squadron. During a ceremony in Paris in 2005, the French government gave him its highest award, the Legion of Honor.

Last spring and summer, a core group of six students spent countless hours researching the fate of the Queens College men and women who served their nation. This intergenerational World War II research project was supported by Mr. Franco, a former history major, as a way to educate and link today’s students with those who preceded them.

“Here you have this brand new college whose first five classes are sacrificed to the war,” says Franco. “You’re talking about a body of 1,600 students; the school was small.” Going on to describe the many Queens College students who were either killed or wounded—himself included—Mr. Franco declares, “The toll was enormous.”

Today’s students, recruited mainly from history clubs on campus, poured over college newspapers and yearbooks, community newspapers, and National Personnel Records Center documents. They discovered that one staff member and 58 Queens College students perished —the great majority in their early 20s or younger--and set out to piece together whatever they could about the circumstances of their lives and untimely deaths.

For some of these deceased veterans, the information is sketchy, but for others, the students found poignant photos, detailed biographical information and even reminiscences by mourning classmates (for Private John Morrell, 219th Field Artillery Battalion, killed July 28, 1944 in France: “He was part and parcel of Operettas and the early seasonal Variety Shows. He sang in all the choirs…Indeed a song has been lost to the world.”) They learned about young men from Flushing, Corona, and other city neighborhoods, some foreign-born, like Sergeant Meyer Gelman, who died April 18, 1944 in action over Germany, a native of Russia. And people like John Charles Burt, who served in four different units at Guadalcanal in the Army Air Corps who is “buried” at the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

The many threads of this story come together at 2 pm on Friday, November 10 (eve of Veterans Day) as the college dedicates its new World War II Veterans Memorial Plaza, which Mr. Franco helped fund with a $100,000 donation. During the ceremony, which will take place on the campus Quad by the flagpole, some of the student-researchers will read the names of the 59 deceased veterans. The French consul, Mr. Franco, college and elected officials, and Queens College graduate and award-winning poet Samuel Menashe, a Battle of the Bulge survivor, will also participate in this historic event.


Contact:

Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
phyllis.cohen-stevens@qc.cuny.edu

(718) 997-5597

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
maria.matteo@qc.cuny.edu
(718) 997-5593

STUDENTS RESEARCH QUEENS COLLEGE STUDENTS WHO DIED IN WORLD WAR II;

GRADUATE ARNOLD FRANCO, CLASS OF ’43, FUNDS NEW VETERANS MEMORIAL PLAZA

--College To Dedicate the Plaza on November 10;
59 Names of Deceased Students Will Be Inscribed--

FLUSHING, NY, October 20, 2006 -- During World War II, 60% of Queens College students enlisted or were called to duty (942 out of a class of 1,600). Founded in 1937, the college graduated its first class in the same year that our nation was drawn into the conflict. One student, Arnold Franco (class of ’43), now age 83, served with an elite group of code breakers, the 3rd Radio Mobile Squadron. During a ceremony in Paris in 2005, the French government gave him its highest award, the Legion of Honor.

Last spring and summer, a core group of six students spent countless hours researching the fate of the Queens College men and women who served their nation. This intergenerational World War II research project was supported by Mr. Franco, a former history major, as a way to educate and link today’s students with those who preceded them.

“Here you have this brand new college whose first five classes are sacrificed to the war,” says Franco. “You’re talking about a body of 1,600 students; the school was small.” Going on to describe the many Queens College students who were either killed or wounded—himself included—Mr. Franco declares, “The toll was enormous.”

Today’s students, recruited mainly from history clubs on campus, poured over college newspapers and yearbooks, community newspapers, and National Personnel Records Center documents. They discovered that 59 Queens College students perished —the great majority in their early 20s or younger--and set out to piece together whatever they could about the circumstances of their lives and untimely deaths.

For some of these deceased veterans, the information is sketchy, but for others, the students found poignant photos, detailed biographical information and even reminiscences by mourning classmates (for Private John Morrell, 219th Field Artillery Battalion, killed July 28, 1944 in France: “He was part and parcel of Operettas and the early seasonal Variety Shows. He sang in all the choirs…Indeed a song has been lost to the world.”) They learned about young men from Flushing, Corona, and other city neighborhoods, some foreign-born, like Sergeant Meyer Gelman, who died April 18, 1944 in action over Germany, a native of Russia. And people like John Charles Burt, who served in four different units at Guadalcanal in the Army Air Corps who is “buried” at the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

The many threads of this story come together at 2 pm on Friday, November 10 (eve of Veterans Day) as the college dedicates its new World War II Veterans Memorial Plaza, which Mr. Franco helped fund with a $100,000 donation. During the ceremony, which will take place on the campus Quad by the flagpole, some of the student-researchers will read the names of the 59 deceased veterans. The French consul, Mr. Franco, college and elected officials, and Queens College graduate and award-winning poet Samuel Menashe, a Battle of the Bulge survivor, will also participate in this historic event.



 
 

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Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597
  

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B

maria.matteo@qc.cuny.edu
(718) 997-5593

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