Korean-era vet leads battle against Post Office

Bill San Antonio

For Jerry Bordonaro, an 82-year-old Roslyn Heights resident and Korean-era veteran, the fighting has not ended.

Only this time his enemy is the U.S. Post Office.

Bordonaro, who served the Army as a sergeant stationed in Germany from 1952-54, has been leading a one-man assault over the length of the flagpole flying over the Post Office at 66 Mineola Avenue in Roslyn Heights for the past three years.

Bordanoro said the flagpole’s length is “an insult” to those who have served in the military.

“The MIA flag is touching the building, and if we have to fly the flag at half-mast tomorrow for whatever reason, you wouldn’t be able to do it,” he said. “It’s a disgrace.”

Bordonaro said the flagpole, which extends the length of the building but only rises a few feet off the roof, violates federal handling protocol and cannot fly in conjunction with the POW/MIA flag, particularly under conditions requiring it be flown at half-staff.  

Bordonaro said that when he first began appealing to the Post Office more than three years ago to move the flagpole, the postmaster, Gary Bonura, told him the project was too expensive to undertake.

“This guy is taking a real Mickey Mouse attitude,” Bordonaro said. “He said he wasn’t going to move it because it’s too costly. I said, it’s a federal building, what are you talking about?” 

Bordonaro, who also enlisted in the Army reserves in 1977, has written letters to the Post Office, local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters and even Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, appealing them to fix the flagpole, but was told the project was a work-in-progress.

“Everyone gave the attitude that they weren’t going to do anything about it,” he said. “A woman did call me up from the post office in February and said they were working on it, but they haven’t done anything since.”

Bonura said he hasn’t ignored Bordonaro’s requests, but the Post Office, which has fallen on hard times financially all across the country, must find the most cost-effective estimate for the work as possible.

“We try to accommodate all our customers,” Bonura said  “It doesn’t happen overnight with the government. You need bids. We’re doing all we can to keep the costs down, because the Post Office is struggling financially as it is.”

In a telephone interview with Blank Slate Media, USPS spokeswoman Connie Chirichello said the Post Office’s maintenance and safety departments inspected the flagpole, and found that if it were to be raised, it may interfere with telephone wires and present dangerous conditions.

Bonura said the wires above the flagpole are not protected by rubber casings, and if the flag flew any higher, the side of the building, also equipped with unprotected wires, would be unsafe even in foggy weather.

“There are wires up there. You need to stay at least five feet away from them, otherwise someone could get electrocuted,” he said. “If it was up to me, I’d just raise the pole, but we can’t.”

Chirichello said the Post Office is looking into moving the flagpole to the side of the building, where they can raise it higher than its previous location next to the main entrance.

“They are moving the flagpole so that when we have to fly the flag at half-mast, it’s not touching the building,” she said.

The Post Office is currently reviewing bids to complete the project and should receive building permits within the next few weeks, Chirichello said.

Bordonaro, however, said he’ll believe the Post office’s plans when he sees the project completed.

“I’ve been getting that for three years,” he said. “We’re talking about a federal building here, you know what I’m saying? This should not be.”

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