A few months ago, local business owner and resident Mike Dolce noticed a small memorial nearly hidden on McDonald Avenue. It was dedicated to former Kensington resident Col. Donald Cook, who died a prisoner of war in Vietnam in 1967.
Not only this, Dolce discovered, but Cook was the first—and only—Marine in history to be awarded a Medal of Honor as a prisoner of war.
"I did more research and realized this particular person was an honorable soldier," said Dolce, who owns Tri-Parkway Cleaners on Fort Hamilton Parkway. "I just saw that the grounds weren't being kept right, and he should have a better monument."
Dolce, along with his friend and Vietnam veteran Ed Schloeman, decided to mobilize to get the space surrounding the memorial cleaned up. They contacted State Assemblyman Jim Brennan, D-Park Slope, who worked with the city's Parks Department and local Boy Scout troops to not only spruce up the square with flowers, but add benches, pavers and a flag pole.
A rededication ceremony will be held at the newly beautified square, located on McDonald Avenue between Caton Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway on Friday at 2 p.m., just days before Memorial Day.
"I own a business here and I own a home here, so I want to see the neighborhood kept clean," Dolce said. "I think it's a nice thing to do."
According to KARMABrooklyn blog, Cook enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1956, and was assigned to Saigon in 1964. Three weeks after his arrival, he was helping to search for a downed helicopter when he was attacked by enemy forces. Cook was shot and captured, and remained imprisoned for three years before he was reported dead in 1967.