Glendale resident honored as grand marshal
By Jessica Meditz
The Queens Veterans Day parade stepped off in Middle Village on Sunday after a two-year hiatus — where hundreds of spectators turned out to show their support for all those who served.
The parade, organized annually by the Queens Veterans Day Parade Committee, started on the corner of 80th Street and Metropolitan Avenue, where TD Bank is — and continued along Metropolitan ending at Christ the King Regional High School with a commemorative ceremony.
The event sets out to encourage community engagement through the common appreciation for the work of veterans, along with the opportunity to make local veterans feel supported and valued.
That support was seen by all the local residents who participated in the parade — those who marched behind the veterans and those cheering on the sidelines alike.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul J. Schottenhamel was selected as the parade’s grand marshal.
Born and raised in South Richmond Hill and a Glendale resident since 1975, Schottenhamel was sent to Vietnam as a young soldier in 1969. He was eventually transferred to the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Cambodia until he was wounded.
Upon leaving active duty in ‘71, Schottenhamel served in the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York Army National Guard. Fifteen years later, he was transferred to the US Army Reserve, where he spent 11 years with the 1150th US Army Reserve Forces School at Fort Hamilton.
With 29 years of service under his belt, he retired in 1997 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and has been awarded numerous awards for his service in the military.
Schottenhamel expressed the honor he felt by being selected as grand marshal, along with the gratitude to be among so many young veterans in the audience that day.
“One of the great things about doing what I’ve done with my life is that I’ve gotten to work with young people when I was wearing the uniform and coming up through my 29 years,” he said. “It’s really important to me; I got to meet a lot of great people.”
Schottenhamel reflected on his life after active duty and how rewarding volunteer work is for him — working at the telephone company and volunteering in the Telephone Building after 9/11, serving on the 104th Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP) and being active in local veterans organizations.
In addition, 104COP was presented with the Anthony G. Pace 2022 Humanitarian Award for the service they’ve provided to the community since 1976.
104COP’s volunteers regularly patrol the streets within the confines of the 104th Precinct with their own personal cars and report all emergencies to the proper authorities.
“It’s a great honor to serve as the president of the organization and to hear from the community how much you are appreciated,” Elizabeth Delacruz, president of 104COP, said. “It gives us a bigger incentive to continue doing the work we do, which is serving the community as the extended eyes and ears of the 104th Precinct.”
Local elected officials — both past and present — discussed the importance of paying tribute to veterans and supporting them in every way possible.
Congresswoman Grace Meng and Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar both expanded on the legislation they are helping to work on that will benefit veterans.
Meng noted the VA Regional Office Accountability Act, which would hold regional offices accountable and ensure they are processing claims and being responsive to veterans. She also helped secure funding for veterans’ medical care, among other resources.
Serving on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rajkumar shared that she supported a bill to make benefits for veterans more accessible to them. She also has a bill to expand public housing for veterans and another to make military training transfer into educational credits.
“This is only the beginning of my work for veterans that I’m proud to do every day,” she said.
Inspired by his father who came home with PTSD and disabled after serving in WWII, Councilman Robert Holden strives to be the voice for veterans who may feel they don’t have a voice themselves.
As chair of the City Council’s Veterans Committee, Holden advocates for affordable and adequate housing for veterans, as well as more accessibility to services.
Former NY State Senator Serphin Maltese, who is a Marine Korean War veteran, congratulated Schottenhamel and 104COP for their service and dedication to the community.
He emphasized the fact that many veterans who served in WWII and those who served alongside him in the Korean War are slowly aging and passing away, and deserve to be honored, along with Iraq War veterans and those who served in other capacities.
“It is important to the Middle Village, Queens County and American communities that we continue to acknowledge the sacrifice,” he said. “They fought, and in many cases died, to make America free and the land of opportunity and to provide a future for our children, grandchildren and descendants.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards reminded the crowd of the sentiment that “freedom is not free.”
He reflected on his recent visit to Ukraine and noted how many people pay the ultimate price, and those of us here should not take freedom for granted. He made it known that his office is always open to veterans in need.
“On Veterans Day, we are reminded that even through our political differences, it is because of [those who served] that we can have those differences,” he said. “Everyone owes [veterans] a great debt of gratitude.”