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Long Island Centenarian Dies of COVID-19 A Century After Twin Died in Spanish Flu Pandemic

Phil Kahn surrounded by his family at his 100th birthday party earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Warren Zysman)

The COVID-19 pandemic claimed the life of a charter member of the Greatest Generation when 100-year-old World War II veteran Philip Kahn died on April 17 at his Westbury home.

He fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima and later served as a chief flight engineer and co-pilot on a Boeing B-29 Superfortress during the months-long firebombing of Tokyo and performed aerial surveying of the damage done by the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Kahn earned two Bronze Stars and he was awarded a campaign medal for Service is the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, a victory medal, the overseas service medal, and a medal for sharpshooting. Following the war, Kahn settled in Fresh Meadows with his wife Rose, where they raised two daughters before moving to Long Island in the early 1970s.

“He was a remarkable man; he was literally a living history,” his grandson Warren Zysman said. “He met Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay. The two of them spoke and shook hands just before that mission.”

Kahn had two older brothers who also survived the war: one fought in the Battle of the bulge and the other took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Kahn’s death came a century after his twin brother succumbed to the Spanish flu soon after his birth in 1919.

“Here he was, at age 100, still walking up to three miles a day. He was so fit both mentally and physically that we felt we had at least another decade with him,” Zysman said. “He had some symptoms and his doctor had him tested at home and he died later that day. It was only later that we found out he tested positive for COVID-19.”

In addition to his service in the Pacific Theater, where he rose to the rank of Sergeant, Kahn was an avid photographer.

“He saw the Intrepid as it was bombed by the Japanese and those photos are on permanent display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Sea Museum,” Zysman said. “He also has a photo archive at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City and his oral account of his experiences during World War II is now a part of the Library of Congress.”

Kahn worked as an electrical foreman with Local 3 and helped build the World Trade Center and the first New York Blood Bank. He enjoyed swimming and ballroom dancing and taught his grandchildren how to roller skate.

“In the years after the war he was able to combine ballroom dancing with roller skating professionally,” Zysman said. “He was a professional dancer paid to dance at roller rinks. He was still in his 60s and he would roller dance with all these college kids and he would skate circles around them all.”

Kahn’s wife of 73 years, Rose, died last summer. He is survived by his daughter Lynn Zysman and her husband Simon and six grandchildren. He was buried at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.

This story first appeared on QNS.com

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Belmont Redevelopment To Get New LIRR Station

A rendering of the new Elmont Long Island Rail Road station. Courtesy of the Governor's office

A new Long Island Rail Road station will be built as part of the $1.26 billion Belmont Park Redevelopment Project, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

The $105 million station will be built between Queens Village and Bellerose stations on the LIRR’s main line just north of Belmont Park, and just east of the Cross Island Parkway, helping to mitigate traffic concerns raised by the planned 19,000-seat hockey arena that will be home to the New York Islanders.

“The Belmont project will help drive the region’s economy forward while building the Islanders a state-of-the-art facility at home on Long Island, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output along the way,” Cuomo said. “Now with the addition of the first full-time LIRR train station in almost 50 years, we will provide millions of visitors and fans as a fast and affordable way to get there and continue New York’s nation-leading investments in 21st-century transportation infrastructure.”

The new station will provide direct service to Belmont Park from both east and west as opposed to the LIRR spur, which can only provide westbound service. Currently, LIRR commuters from the east must go to Jamaica and backtrack to the park.

In addition to the hockey arena, the redevelopment project also includes a 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and movie theater. The developers of the proposed project, New York Area Partners, will cover $97 million, 92 percent of the total cost of the LIRR station, and the state will invest $8 million.

Cuomo also released the economic impact study of the redevelopment project, which says nearly $50 million in new public revenue will be generated each year while creating $725 million in annual economic activity and generating annual employees earnings of roughly $133 million.

“The Belmont Redevelopment Project will turn unused state land into an economic engine for Long Island and Queens, creating jobs both in the construction of a new LIRR station, and the hotel and retail village that can service Belmont’s visitors,” said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), who represents the area. “Today’s announcement shows New York’s commitment to investing in public transit.”

Lenny Dykstra Helping Move NYC Diner To Riverhead

Former Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra joins the team that is trying to rescue the Shalimar Diner in Rego Park from a wrecking crew. Courtesy of Michael Perlman.

Former New York Mets bad boy Lenny “Nails” Dykstra has joined a new team hoping to grant the shuttered Shalimar Diner in Rego Park a new lease on life on Long Island.

The beloved eatery permanently closed its doors last year after 45 years when the property and an adjoining lot were sold in a $6.5 million all-cash deal with developers.

In April, Rego-Forest Preservation Council founder and chairman Michael Perlman launched an effort to find a taker for the classic structure for zero dollars and move it to a new location before the wrecking ball arrives.

Enter Dykstra, the star outfielder on the 1986 World Champion Mets squad and three-time all-star with the Philadelphia Phillies. He joined forces with Manhattan attorney Ronald Hariri and Perlman to relocate the Shalimar Diner to Riverhead, Long Island where it would likely reopen as a brewery and diner.

“Similar to Nails, the Shalimar Diner is a piece of Queens and New York City history,” Hariri said. “We are working with an architect.”

Hariri said he was raised on egg creams at the Shalimar when he lived in Forest Hills near Perlman the preservationist and historian.

“These places are cultural cornerstones of the neighborhood but they’ve become an endangered species,” Perlman said. “It’s really sad and disheartening now how much land costs around here.The structure is prefabricated and manufactured to be easy to move.”

Hariri and Dykstra will funds the moving costs and it will be transported by a professional diner rigger. Perlman became known as “The Diner Man” after he achieved success by sparing other classic diners such as SoHo’s Moondance Diner and Midtown Manhattan’s Cheyenne Diner by brokering deals to have them transported to new locations.

It is not clear when the Shalimar Diner will be removed from its 63-68 Austin St. location.

“I became a preservationist in 2005 when a demolition crew took a jackhammer to the art deco ticket booth at the Trylon Theater on Queens Boulevard,” Perlman recalled. “The Shalimar was another ultimate public institution now facing oblivion.”

Dykstra, meanwhile, is looking to preserve his reputation after several brushes with the law over the years including charges of indecent exposure, DUI, grand theft auto, bankruptcy fraud, sexual assault and writing bad checks. Dykstra made headlines recently for searching for his lost dentures in a New Jersey dumpster for nine hours with his friend, tag-team wrestler nicknamed Sprinkles the Clown, that he chronicled on his Twitter feed.

This article first appeared in the Queens Courier