WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES NOVEMBER 22, 2018 17
Pearl Harbor survivor gives
Ridgewood students a lesson in history
BY JENNA BAGCAL
Battalion Sergeant Major Armando
“Chick” Galella survived the
attack at Pearl Harbor 77 years
ago next month, and he shared his story
with Ridgewood students on Nov. 19.
Nearly eight decades aft er that “date
which lived in infamy,” the 97-year-old
war veteran does multiple speaking
engagements a year to educate people
about the important part of United
States history. On Monday, Galella
visited P.S. 81 in Ridgewood to give
students a personal account of his
According to Galella, around 375
World War II veterans die every
day (most of these veterans are now
in their 90s), so the importance of
teaching war history becomes more
prevalent as the years go on and the
number of survivors dwindles.
“I think they should know. There’s
only about 600,000 of us left , there’s
only about 1500 Pearl Harbor survivors
left out of 880,000. So I try to
impress on them that lives were lost
in the European theater and the Pacifi c
theater so they could be here today,”
Galella has been a resident of Sleepy
Hollow, formerly known as North Tarrytown,
his entire life. Born in 1921, he
decided to enlist in the United States
Army in 1940 in the midst of the Great
By age 20, he was deployed and was
assigned to the 443rd Signal Corps at
Hickam Air Force Base in Pearl Harbor,
Hawaii. He served fi ve years in the
Pacifi c Theater and went on to earn
the rank of Battalion Sergeant Major,
the highest rank an enlisted person
Galella also earned the Bronze
Medal for Meritorious Service and
bravery in the Battle of Okinawa. The
medal is enshrined in a clear display
case which houses his other awards including
an Army Good Conduct medal
and an Asiatic Pacifi c Camp medal.
He remembers the morning of
Dec. 7, 1941 like it was yesterday. He
was reading the Sunday paper aft er
breakfast when the attack began.
Galella recalled that the fi rst attack
started at 7:55 a.m. when “the fi rst
wave of Japanese planes drew across
the mountains” and soldiers began
dropping bombs on Pearl Harbor.
The next day, Dec. 8, the United
States declared war on Japan. Germany
and Italy then declared war on the
United States, and America was thrust
into World War II.
The army vet graduated high school
in 1939 and attributes much of his successes,
including earning the rank of
Battalion Sergeant Major, to getting
an education. Most of the men he
enlisted with did not get far in school
and some could not even read or sign
their names, according to Galella.
He urged the children to “get your
education” and “learn how to read.”
“If you don’t read, you don’t learn
anything. You gotta read, that’s
what I tell them,” said Galella. He
added that he teaches the lessons
that are not found in the textbooks
“Get an education, it’s very, very
important. Get an education, start
now,” Galella told the crowd of 60
fourth and fifth graders. “Respect
your teachers because you are the
future generation of this country.”
At the end of the presentation,
Galella handed out American flags
to the students which is something
he said he does wherever he speaks.
“16 million people lost their lives
so you could honor this flag,” he said.
Back in May, Senator Terrence
Murphy chose Galella to be inducted
into the Veterans Hall of Fame and
was honored at a ceremony at the
State Capitol in Albany. According to
the NY Senate website, Galella’s wife
Lena died in 2015 after 65 years of
marriage. Together the couple has
had two sons, three grandchildren,
and four great-grandchildren.
His visit was part of a nationwide
Take a Veteran to School Day program
held on Nov. 16 (the program at P.S. 81
was postponed until Monday due to
Photo by Jenna Bagcal/ RIDGEWOOD TIMES
Battalion Sergeant Major Armando “Chick” Galella.
Celebrate the holiday season in the Greater Ridgewood area
BY EMMA MILLER
Bells will be ringing, children
will be singing and all will be
merry and bright at numerous
tree lightings and other yuletide celebrations
in the days and weeks ahead.
Check out these tree lightings and
other upcoming holiday events in the
Ridgewood Times coverage area:
The Shops at Atlas Park will usher in
the holiday season with a tree lighting
this Saturday night, Nov. 24. From 6
to 8 p.m., enjoy music, face painting,
giveaways, a special visit from Santa
and, of course, a tree lighting.
Then come to the Glendale Memorial
Triangle, at the corner of
Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, on
Sunday, Dec. 9, for the neighborhood’s
annual tree lighting hosted
by the Kiwanis Club of Glendale.
The event gets underway at 5 p.m.
and features live music, hot chocolate,
doughnuts and more! Every
child will receive a gift from Santa
and have a photo opportunity.
Santa is scheduled to appear at the
ceremony at about 6 p.m.
Come to Maspeth Memorial
Square for their annual tree lighting.
There will be carols, hot chocolate,
giveaways and a visit from
Santa. This event is at 6 p.m. on
Friday night, Dec. 7. The Maspeth
Lions Club is among the event’s
The Woodhaven Business Improvement
District will hold its annual
Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah
lighting on Friday night, Dec. 7,
at 6 p.m. at the Forest Parkway Plaza,
located at the corner of Forest Parkway
and Jamaica Avenue. The ceremony
features live music and a scheduled
appearance by Santa Claus himself.
Visit the Onderdonk House for a fun
day learning about the legend of St.
Nicholas during a St. Nicholas Day celebration
on Sunday, Dec. 9. There will be
live music, holiday treats, craft s, a tree
lighting and a special appearance by St.
Nick himself. This event is from noon
to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults,
free for children and seniors.
File photo/RIDGEWOOD TIMES
Children visited Santa Claus during
the 2017 Glendale Kiwanis tree