Fleet Week is part of the official marking of Memorial Day in the six boros of NYC each year.  Maybe someone can tell me how long ago this tradition began.


DDG-55 Stout receives greeting from Fort Hamilton

This is the day set aside to honor those who died in America’s wars, but the listing earlier in this sentence does not list all of the skirmishes that resulted in the death of American military personnel.  Take the Battle of the Pearl River forts aka Battle of the Barrier Forts.   Know the details?  I’ll tell you about it in a minute, but I stumbled upon this neglected, overgrown monument in NYC about five years ago.  The public couldn’t see it because it’s fenced off.


Barrier Forts Monument

As it turns out, the stonecutters misspelled two names here, and two others listed here as killed were not.


The Barrier Forts Monument is located inside a closed-to-the-public area of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  For an interesting article on the battle and the monument, click here.  For a wikipedia treatment of the event, click here.

I stumbled onto the event depicted in the rest of the photos here last week and had only the phone camera.  Any ideas on what’s going on?



What I’d happened upon here is two workers of the NYC DPR Arts and Antiquities division cleaning up the Richmond Hill “doughboy” war memorial.  The crew told me they do this one each year in May as a preparation for today.


All of this brings me to a thought I’ve carried today.  I retire from teaching this month, a pensive process of deciding what comes next and revisiting students and colleagues from the years extending back to 1973 and in places in five countries where I’ve worked.

There was a student in one of my classes back in 1979 who died in Desert Storm in January 1991.  This link identifies her as Staff Sgt. Tatiana Khaghani Dees.  I knew her as  Tatiana Khaghani, a student on an F-1 visa in the US who wanted to be a lawyer.   A FB link goes on to describe her death this way, and I paste it in here, since not everyone does FB.

“USA SSG Tatiana Khaghani Dees, from Congers, NY in Rockland County but originally from Tehran, Iran drowned after stepping backwards off a pier in Dhahran while avoiding moving military cargo. She was unable to swim due to all the gear she was wearing. She was assigned to the 92nd Military Police Company, 93rd MP Battalion, 14th MP Brigade, V Corps based in Grafenwoehr, Germany. Tatiana leaves behind two children: Lena and Joseph. On 28 May 12, I received an email from Tatiana’s son Joseph. He thanked me “for remembering the great women who served our country” and included this photo of his mother.

According to SSG Bill Hancock: I wanted to clear up the events that lead up to Tatiana’s death. It is reported incorrectly on your site. Tatiana had immigrated from Iran to the United States and was assigned to 2nd platoon (squad leader) 92nd MP Co, 93rd MP Bn, 18th MP Brigade, (not the 14th MP Bde) from Baumholder, Germany. Tatiana and 2 soldiers in her squad were pulling guard duty at the port. They saw a man taking pictures from atop one of those large cranes. Tatiana sent her 2 soldiers up to investigate. Both soldiers handed Tatiana their M-16s so she was holding 3 M-16’s and wearing full gear including Kevlar and flak vest. She stepped back from the base of the crane to get a better view of her soldiers as they climbed when she fell into the water. She was found an hour or so later and still had all her gear on and the 3 M-16’s. I think she was found in 50’ of water around 11 p.m. She was a great squad leader and person. Her troops held her in high regard.”

For Tatiana, all those who have died in too many wars, and all the families, let’s keep some solemnity in this day.

Entirely related:  American war dead still abroad.

Also related, an 1889 poem written by John Greenleaf Whittier called “The Captain’s Well”