A Veteran’s Way


On Saturday April 23, a crowd gathered in front of the Golden Gate Fancy Fruits and Vegetables store on Flatbush Avenue to honor its longtime owner, and World War II Veteran, the late john Cortese, with a street naming.

John A Cortese was a legend in Brooklyn, known to many Brooklyn-Rockaway transplants, as he operated the local produce store, first opened by his parents in 1939, for many years. While he lived in Flatlands, some of his family resides in Breezy Point.

In 1942 after his 18th birthday and graduation from High School, Uncle Sam recruited him for the U.S. Army. He spent time at Fort Bragg and then sailed overseas to fight in World War II. As a corporal in the 551st Field Artillery Battalion, John fought in the invasion of Normandy landing on Omaha Beach, The Battle of The Bulge and many other battles in France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. Part of his duties was that of being a sapper, one who identifies land mines. He was given only two hours of training a month before D-Day. He trained not in a classroom but on live minefields. He also played the bugle as he was a saxophonist. Cortese went on to live a long life, marrying the late Anne, had three children; Janine, Louise Anne and John, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Cortese died peacefully in his home on April 19, 2020.

In tribute, Rockaway’s Army veteran Brian Galarza was on hand to play the bugle at the Brooklyn street naming ceremony of “John A Cortese Way” on Saturday.


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