Vet brings flag from Iraq to Bayside parish

Congregants from the American Martyrs Catholic Church in the Windsor Park section of Bayside gathered together recently for Mass and to bless and raise an American flag which had flown in Iraq.
First Sergeant Warren Forrest, a parishioner at the church, was stationed at Tallil airbase in southern Iraq from November of 2005 to November of 2006. He was part of the 408th service battalion of the Army Reserve.
The flag was sent back as a thank you from the soldiers in his unit, for all the packages and good wishes they received from parishioners at the church, many of whom are veterans.
“We were happy to send packages of necessities and goodies for our boys,” said Ray Fortune, commander of Catholic War Veterans Post 1772 at the church. The post, established in 1955, once foundered but now boasts 44 members. “We’re proud to receive and fly this flag,” he said.
When Forrest isn’t on duty as a reservist with the 77th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Totten, he is an information technology specialist with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. A holder of two awards of the Bronze Star, he has been in the military since “I got drafted for Vietnam.”
Born in St. Albans, he grew up in Bayside and stayed close. Forrest, his wife Beth and their children: Matthew, 16; Christopher, 13 and Katelyn, 10 now live in nearby Holliswood, but still attend the church. “The kids all went to P.S. 188, about two blocks from the church,” Beth said.
Even though the children, especially the youngest, sometimes wear items of Army gear, none expressed an interest in the military. “I just like the clothes,” Katelyn agreed.
When asked how it felt to be out of Iraq, Forrest said, “The dust is so intrusive, you bring Iraq with you.”
To demonstrate his point, Forrest said, “Watch this” and stomped his boot on the ground, a-year-and-a-half after leaving Iraq.
About the third stomp, a wispy cloud of dust came off his boot.

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