Remembering ‘a true patriot,’ Howard Dunn

As Memorial Day approaches, his peers reflect on the Bay Ridge activist, veteran, and American hero  

From Brooklyn Eagle

Although his passing was nearly a decade ago, the spirit and aura of Bay Ridge activist and American hero Howard Dunn is still immensely felt in the community that he had such an affinity for — especially with Memorial Day only a little more than a week away.

A veteran of World War II, who served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946, Dunn was an active player in the King’s County Memorial Day parade since the 1940s. He was also a former Kings County commander of the American Legion.

However, one of the things Dunn was most known for was making sure that businesses along both Third and Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge had American flags waving proudly outside — literally planting them on sidewalks throughout the neighborhood himself.

Fran Vella-Marrone, chair, Kings County Conservative Party; and former State Sen. Marty Golden. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Fran Vella-Marrone, chair, Kings County Conservative Party, referred to Dunn as “a true patriot.”

“Everybody knew Howie,” Vella-Marrone said. “I knew him for decades. He was incredibly well respected, and very active in the community and in veterans’ affairs. What stands out to me about Howie is his patriotism and his service to his country.”

Vella-Marrone pointed out that she would often see Dunn raising money for veterans’ associations and charities on a regular basis. 

“It’s so extremely important to recognize a man like Howie with Memorial Day approaching, because we should remember those that lost their lives protecting our liberties and freedoms.”  

Former State Sen. Marty Golden called Dunn “a great American who was there for everybody in our community.”

“If you needed someone to get the veterans included into something you went to Howie Dunn,” Golden said, adding that Dunn was “the go-to guy for the veterans and for Fort Hamilton.”

“The man was really one of a kind. He was a Bay Ridge local, and very easy to access. 

“I knew Howie for about 50 years,” Golden continued. “And if you were growing up in this community, there’s no way you didn’t know him. He was the epitome of community, and all about giving back and making things happen. His passing was a great loss to our veterans, his family, and our community.”


Raymond Aalbue, chairman of the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade, and executive director of the United Military Veterans of Kings County, addressing the crowd at a recent fundraising event in Bay Ridge. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Raymond Aalbue, chairman of the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade, and executive director of the United Military Veterans of Kings County, recalled that Dunn was the grand marshal for the 148th Memorial Day Parade back in 2015. 

“He was a whirlwind,” Aalbue said. “He did an awful lot for a lot of people in the neighborhood. If people needed something, they went to Howie. He was a veteran’s veteran — a true sparkplug for the neighborhood.

“One thing in particular I remember that Howie did was to get involved in the Wounded Warrior Project — and that was incredibly significant to so many.”  

Dunn was introduced to the Wounded Warrior Project through his involvement with the Boy Scouts of America (which he first became involved with in 1939), and helped raise more than $28,000 between 2009 and 2012, as well as working with Walter Reed Hospital on numerous clothing drives and volunteering his time conducting tours of New York City for soldiers and their families who come into the NY and NJ areas.

Aalbue explained that it’s important to remember a man like Dunn on Memorial Day.

“You must acknowledge those that came before us, and made a difference in the lives of so many.”

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10 (encompassing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Fort Hamilton), called Dunn “a kind man and a pleasure to work with.”  

“I still have a flag here that he gave to Community Board 10 that I will always cherish,” Beckmann said. “And even after his passing, I feel his spirit often; it lives on — whether it’s in the form of a flag that remains along the curb in front of someone’s business, or the Memorial Day parade.”

Beckmann recalled a time coming off of the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit, and seeing Dunn in uniform soliciting funds with a can — “the old fashioned way — raising money for the troops and for veterans. He was really a champion for our local veterans and our community,” she said.  

Dunn passed away on September 25, 2015 after a long illness. He was 88 years old

Brooklyn’s 157th Memorial Day Parade will take place on May 27 — stepping off promptly at 11 a.m. on Third Avenue and 78th Street, and proceeding down Third Avenue to Marine up to Fourth Avenue, and over to John Paul Jones Park for a memorial service that will include bagpipes, flag raising, wreath laying, and a 21-gun salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery — the oldest New York State military unit.

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