Full Episode: November 10, 2015

In our special Veterans Day show, MetroFocus speaks with Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, one of only five quadruple amputees from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. He discusses his new book “Tough As They Come,” how he continues to overcome life’s challenges and physical barriers and why he became an advocate for veterans and amputees.

Plus, we follow television sound engineer Toba Potosky on his mission to re-open and restore the Brooklyn World War II memorial erected by New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in 1951.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS' A CELEBRATION OF OUR NATION'S MILITARY ON THE EVE OF VETERANS DAY.

MEET STAFF SERGEANT TRAVIS MILLS OF THE 82nd AIRBORNE, HUSBAND, FATHER, WAR HERO, AND PROUD AMERICAN.

ON HIS THIRD TOUR OF DUTY IN AFGHANISTAN, A VOLUNTARY TOUR, AN EXPLOSION COST TRAVIS PORTIONS OF BOTH OF HIS ARMS AND LEG, BUT HIS MOTTO IS NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER QUIT.

AFTER HEARING TRAVIS' STORY, YOU'LL FEEL THE SAME.

> AND ROBERT MOSES HAD SET OUT TO HONOR WORLD WAR II'S VETERANS OF THE GREATEST GENERATION ARE TRIBUTES IN ALL FIVE BOROUGHS BUT ONLY ONE WAS EVER BUILT.

HIS WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL SHUTTERED IN BROOKLYN FOR DECADES.

IT TOOK A FEW VETS AND A GUY WITH PASSION TO BRING IT BACK TO THE PUBLIC.

THEIR STORY AND MORE AHEAD AS 'METROFOCUS' START IZ RIGHT NOW.

Announcer: THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL P.

ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY -- CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AN 9/11 OUSHGS CITY AND OUR WORLD CHANGED FOREVER, THE LOSS ALMOST UNMATH MATH INABLE.

WE HAVE STORIES OF THE HORRIFIC DAY AND YEARS THAT FOLLOW.

BUT FEW PEOPLE HAVE EXPERIENCED LOSS LIKE MY NEXT G.E.

MEET ARMY STAFF SERGEANT TRAVIS MILLS.

MY JOB WAS THE MILITARY.

I LOVED IT, WORKING WITH SOLDIERS EVERY DAY, DOING MY JOB.

IT WAS LIKE THE GREATEST FOR ME.

COMING HOME TO MY WIFE AND KID WAS THE BEST, YOU KNOW.

I HAD A REALLY GOOD LIFE MAPPED OUT.

I WAS REALLY DOING WELL.

PEOPLE CALL ME A HERO, BUT I'M NOT SURE WHAT PART OF IT MAKES ME A HERO.

I JUST HAD A NORMAL DAY AT WORK THAT TURNED UGLY.

ABOUT SIX SECONDS I GUESS LATER, AND I WOKE UP.

MY MEDIC CAME UP TO ME.

I NEED MORE PEOPLE OVER HERE TO PUT ON A TOURNIQUET!

TOURNIQUETS ON BOTH LEGS AB ARMS.

I THOUGHT MIFF BABY GIRL, AM I EVER GOING TO SEE HER AGAIN?

I'M GETTING TEARED UP.

SORRY.

I WAS REALLY WORRIED ABOUT WHAT LIFE WAS GOING TO BE LIKE AFTERWARD, YOU KNOW, WITH ALL OF THIS.

DO YOU LOVE YOUR DADDY?

I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE IN TEN MONTHS.

KEPT SAYING, WHY?

WHAT'S YOUR BIG RUSH?

I SAID, DOC, LOOK BEHIND YOU.

I HAD PICTURES UP OF ME AND MY WIFE AND MY DAUGHTER.

I HAVE A FAMILY.

I LIVE IN A HOSPITAL BED.

GET ME OUT OF HERE.

JOINING ME NOW IS ARMY STAFF SERGEANT TRAVIS MILLS, AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK 'TOUGH AS THEY COME.'

STAFF SERGEANT MILLS FOUGHT THROUGH THREE TOURS OF SERVICE DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM, THE LAST VOLUNTARY ON HIS PART.

IT WAS DURING THAT TOUR THAT HE WAS WOUNDED.

HE CAME HOME A HERO AND A QUADRUPLE AMPUTEE.

HE JOINS US TODAY TO TALK WITH US.

OUR PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU, TRAVIS.

NICE TO SEE YOU.

THANK FOR HAVING ME.

WE SAW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED THERE.

TO GIVE FOLKS AN UNDERSTANDING OF THIS BECAUSE I WANT TO TALK ABOUT MUCH MORE, WHAT YOU'VE BEEN DOING WITH YOUR LIFE SINCE.

YOU'RE A MEMBER OF THE LEGENDARY 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION.

THE BEST.

YOU'RE BACK FOR A THIRD TOUR OF DUTY, AND YOU HAD SAID TO YOUR WIFE, YOU FELT LIKE HU TO GO BACK THIS TIME.

WHY DID YOU FEEL LIKE HU TO GO BACK?

WELL, I MEAN, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO -- I HAD ORDERS TAKING ME SOMEWHERE ELSE, TO TEXAS.

TO BUILD A BRIGADE UP.

I DIDN'T FEEL RIGHT ABOUT IT.

I HAD GUYS I TRAINED WITH, GUYS THAT CAME OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL TO THE ARMY AND LOOKED UP TO ME.

I'VE TAUGHT THEM HOW TO DOING EVERYTHING.

MY WIFE UNDERSTOOD IT WAS A CALLING AND IT'S A BROTHER MOOD AUND DON'T TURN YOUR BACK ON THEM.

WHEN IT CAME DOWN TO IT, I WENT TO MY SERGEANT MAJOR AND SAID, I ISN'T ACCEPT THESE ORDERS S.

THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO FOR THIS?

I'VE BEEN WITH THE TEAM THE WHOLE TIME.

I HAVE TO GO E. SAID HE'D TAKE CARE TV AND HE DID.

AND IT'S JUST SPART PART OF THE JOB.

YOU DON'T LEAVE YOUR BROTHERS IN ARMS BY THEMSELVES.

IF YOU HADN'T SERVED, I THINK SOMETIMES IT'S DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE TO APPRECIATE THAT.

BUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE SERVED, TO THEM, IT'S THE MOST NATURAL THING TO DO.

IT'S A FAMILY THAT'S VERY DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS.

IS THAT A FAIR WAY TO CHARACTERIZE IT?

I THINK SO.

I THINK IT'S KIND OF LIKE BEING ON A SPORTS TEAM, YOU KNOW.

YOU HAVE YOUR FRIENDS AND YOU PLAY SPORTS AND YOU'RE REAL TIGHT WITH THEM.

YOU PRACTICE WITH THEM EVERY DAY.

IN THE ARMY IT'S DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU LIVE WITH THEM, YOU EAT WITH THEM, AND YOU DO EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO.

BUT WHERE ON A SPORTS TEAM YOU PRACTICE PLAYS AN IF YOU WIN OR LOSE IT'S OKAY.

IN THE ARMY OR MILITARY SERVICE, YOU PRACTICE TAKING DOWN THREATS AND IF YOU DON'T, SOMEBODY MIGHT NOT WALK AWAY.

SO IT'S A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT, BUT I DIDN'T FEEL OBLIGATED TO GO.

I WANTED TO GO.

IT WAS VOLUNTARY TO JOIN THE MILITARY.

THIS THIRD DEPLOYMENT CAME UP, GUYS LOOKING UP TO ME.

I WAS THEIR BOSS.

I COULDN'T SEE MYSELF GOING ANYWHERE EXCEPT OVERSEAS.

MY WIFE KNEW THAT.

WE HAD A BABY DUE.

SHE UNDERSTOOD.

SHE UNDERSTOOD.

TAKES A SPECIAL TYPE OF SPOUSE.

ABSOLUTELY.

MY WIFE IS THE BEST.

YOU'RE LUCKY.

I'M NOT JUST SAYING THAT BECAUSE SHE'S WATCHING.

I'LL TELL YOUR WIFE YOU SAID THAT TO ME EVEN BEFORE YOU WERE ON THE AIR.

YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT IN THE FILM THAT WE SAW ABOUT HOW IT HAPPENED AND JUST ESSENTIALLY YOU'RE IN AN AREA, IEDs, EVERYBODY THOUGHT IT WAS CLEARED.

YOU SIMPLY DROPPED YOUR BACK BACK AND ALL OF A SUDDEN IT GOES OFF.

YES.

YOU'RE ON THE GROUND.

DID YOU KNOW THE EXTENT OF YOUR INJURIES INITIALLY?

OH, YES.

ON APRIL 10th OF 2012 I WAS WALKING ALONG, PATROL.

EVERYTHING IS NORMAL.

WE HAD A MINE SUPER IN FRONT, BRANDON OF THE HE WAS GOING UP AND DOWN THE MOUND TO CHECK IF THERE WAS ANYTHING IN THERE.

NOTHING PINGED, NOTHING MADE A SOUND, NOTHING AGENTED DIFFERENT.

SO I SAID, OKAY, COOL, HAD MY TEAM COME UP, TOLD THEM TO GET THE GUN UP HERE.

I TOOK MY BAG OFF AND MY BAG IS BETWEEN 80 TO 110 POUNDS, DEPENDING ON WHAT WE HAD IN IT.

WE PUT THEM ON THE GROUND BECAUSE WE LINK ALL OUR ROUNDS TOGETHER.

INSTEAD OF HAVING OUR BIG GUN WEAPON WITH 300 ROUNDS WE HAD IT LINKED UP WITH GO,000 AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

AND I SET MY BAG DOWN AND WITHIN AN INSTANT A BOMB WENT OFF, RIPPED OFF MY RIGHT ARM, RIGHT LEG IMMEDIATELY.

I DID A REAL HARD FLAME TO THE GROUND.

MY LEFT EYE SWELLED SHUT.

MY LEFT LEG WAS A COUPLE OF PIECES OF TENDON AND MUSCLE HOLDING IT ON.

MY LEFT HAND WAS STILL THERE, BUT IT WAS -- THE WRIST BAZ WAS BLOWN OUT AND MY RING AND PINKIE FINGER WERE GONE.

I REACHED UP, HIT MY MIKE, SAID, L.T., I THINK I HIT A BOMB.

WE NEED YOUR MEDIC OVER HERE.

I HAD A MEDIC ALREADY WITH MY ELEMENT.

MY MEDIC WAS WORKING ON ME.

I SAID, GET AWAY FROM ME, SAVE MY GUYS.

MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS TO MY SOLDIERS.

AGAIN, IT DOESN'T SURPRISE ME, KNOWING WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT YOU, THAT YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WAS FOR YOUR GUYS, YOUR SOLDIERS D. YOU THINK AT THAT TIME THAT YOU WERE GOING TO SURVIVE?

NO.

I'VE SEEN WOUNDS A LOT LESS SEVERE, TO ME A LOT LESS SEVERE THAN WHAT I HAD, AND THOSE GUYS DIDN'T MAKE IT.

I DIDN'T WANT TO GOO OUT SCARED OR CRYING.

I TOLD MY MEDIC, GET AWAY FROM ME, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IF.

I GET WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

TELL MY FAMILY I LOVE THEM AND SAVE MY GUYS.

HE TOLD ME, LET ME DO MY JOB.

I SAID, SERIOUSLY GO.

IT THEN HE WORKED ON ME.

THE OTHER MEDIC WORKED ON ME.

WITHIN TEN MINUTES THEY HAD ME GETTING READY TO GET ON THE HELICOPTER.

WHILE I WAS ON THE HELICOPTER TWO OTHER GUYS GOT HURT WITH ME.

I WAS YELLING WITH THE FLIGHT CREW, HEY, TAKE YOUR HELMET OFF.

THEY CAN'T THAER.

THEY WEREN'T IGNORING ME.

I TOLD THEM TO TAKE THE HEG HELMET OFF.

ONE OF MY GUYS WAS YELLING OUT IN PAIN.

HE HAD HOLES IN HIS LEGS.

THEY COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT.

WROTE A NICE THING IN THE BOOK 'TOUGH AS THEY COME,' A NICE THING THEY WROTE TO MY WIFE, THEY COULDN'T BELIEVE IN MY SITUATION.

I MADE TO THE AMBULANCE, THE OPERATING TABLE.

ON THE BRAITING TABLE I KEPT TELLING THEM TO QUIT TOUCHING ME, I'VE GOT TO GET BACK TO MY GUYS.

THEY SAID, I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU'RE STILL COHERENT.

YOU NEED TO GO TO SLEEP.

THE LAST THING I SAID, MY BABY GIRL, WILL I EVER SEE HER AGAIN?

AT THE TIME I HAD A 4-MONTH-OLD WHEN I DEPLOYED, 6 MONTHS OLD WHEN I GOT HIT.

ONCE I REALIZED THE SITUATION THAT I WAS GOING INTO AN OPERATION, MY GUYS WERE TAKEN CARE OF, THEN IT WAS TALK TO THINK ABOUT MY FAMILY, MY WIFE, MY KID.

WE SHOULD MENTION YOU SHOWED ME A WONDERFUL PICTURE OF THAT BABY GIRL WHO JUST TURNED 4.

SHE'S MY BEST FRIEND.

WE HANG OUT.

THEY SEDATED ME ON THE OPERATING TABLE AND TWO DAYS LATER THEY CUT MY LEFT OFF THE REST OF THE WAY.

IT WAS GETTING NECK RA TIEZED.

MY LEFT LEG CAME OFF WITH MY PANTS SO THAT WAS EASY THE DIDN'T HAVE TO CUT THAT OFF.

I CAN JOKE AROUND ABOUT IT NOW BECAUSE IT IS WHAT IT IS.

I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU ABOUT THAT.

WHEN I GOT TO THE HOSPITAL AND BETHESDA AT WALTER REED, GREAT CARE.

AWESOME PLACE.

THE 17th OF APRIL I TOLD MY WIFE HAD TO TELL THEM TO CUT MORE OF MY LEG WAS OFF.

IT WAS OKAY, SIGNED PAPERS.

I CAME OUT OF SURGERY, I TALKED TO HER THE 18th OR 19th.

I SAID, YOU DIDN'T SIGN ON FOR THIS.

TAKE EVERYTHING THAT WE HAVE.

IT'S YOURS.

TAKE ANYTHING IN THE ACCOUNT THAT WE HAVE.

NOT THAT WE HAD A LOT.

BUT WHATEVER.

I'M NOT GOING TO HOLD ANY GRUDGE.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS.

AND WHAT DID SHE SAY TO YOU?

SHE SAID, DON'T BE SILLY I.

SAID, SERIOUSLY.

I CAN'T OPEN ANYTHING, JARS, PICK ANYTHING HEAVY UP.

SHE JUST TOLD ME, THAT'S NOT WHY I GOT MARRIED TO LEAVE YOU AT A TIME LIKE THIS.

I'M GOING TO BE HERE FOR YOU.

THAT WAS TIME TO MAKE A DECISION, EITHER HAVE SOMEBODY SPOON-FEED ME OR BE A FATHER FIGURE TO MY DAUGHTER WHO IS MY BEST FRIEND.

AND TEACH HER HOW TO DO EVERYTHING.

I GOT TO LEARN HOW TO WALK WITH MY DAUGHTER.

NOT A LOT OF PARENTS GOT TO SAY THAT.

YOU WERE AN ATHLETE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER, COLLEGE.

IS PART OF THIS, ALL OF THIS PHYSICAL ACTIVITY NOT JUST FOR YOU BUT TO SHOW OTHERS ALSO?

I THINKIT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO LET PEOPLE KNOW WITH MY SITUATION I'M NOT LIVING LIFE ON THE SIDELINES.

I'M OUT THERE BEING ACTIVE, DOING WHATEVER I CAN DO.

AND THAT'S THE REASON THE FOUNDATION IS AROUND, BECAUSE I BRING OUT GUYS IN MY SITUATION AND GIRLS IN MY SITUATION AND SHOW THEM, LOOK, YOU CAN ADAPTIVELY DO THINGS.

I THINK IT WAS THE MOST REWARDING TRIP I'VE EVER DONE.

I WENT TO BRECKENRIDGE, COLORADO, AND I LEARNED HOW TO SNOWBOARD AND HOW TO MONO SKI.

I DON'T CARE FOR MONO SKIING AS MUCH, BUT SNOW BOARDING I LEARNED HOW TO ON MY SHORT LEGS FIVE MONTHS AFTER THE EXPLOSION AND I NEVER LOOKED BACK.

OKAY, I NEVER LOOKED BACK.

THIS CAN BE DONE.

YOU'VE GOT A GREAT PROGRAM YOU'RE PUTTING TOGETHER UP IN MAINE.

WHAT IS THE PROGRAM DOING FOR OTHERS?

REALLY WE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WE WERE GOING TO DO.

MY WIFE AND I WANTED TO HELP PEOPLE OUT.

WE THOUGHT ABOUT SENDING CARE PACKAGES OVERSEAS.

PEANUT BUTTER M & Ms, BEEF JERKY, ORBIT GUM AND GUMMY BEARS, THAT'S ALL THEY WANT.

IF YOU'RE GOING TO SEND A PACKAGE.

THAT'S ALL I WANTED.

SOMETHING SIMPLE, $3,000 TO $5,000 A YEAR HOPEFULLY WE CAN RAISE OR GIVE BACK BECAUSE ALL THE LOVE AND SUPPORT WE WERE SHOWN.

BUT WE HAD A CONVERSATION WITH A GENTLEMAN ABOUT ALL THE THINGS I WAS DOING, HOW GREAT IT WAS.

MY WIFE WANTED TO MOVE TO MAINE SO WE WERE GOING TO MOVE TO MAINE.

WE THOUGHT, LET'S JUST HOST A CAMP, SEE HOW THIS GOES.

WE DID TWO PROOF OF CONCEPTS THAT WENT PHENOMENALLY.

WE BROUGHT UP GUYS IN MY SITUATION AND FAMILIES, TAUGHT THEM TO KAYAK, BOAT, FISH, SWIM, TUBE.

LIMIT RALLY EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE.

SO THIS PAST YEAR WE PURCHASED A PROPERTY, THE ELIZABETH ARDEN ESTATE.

SHE BUILT THAT IN 1929.

SHE WAS A PIONEER OF COSMETICS AND SPAS AND THINGS.

NOW WE'RE UNDER A MASSIVE, MASSIVE RECONSTRUCTION.

WE'RE LOOKING TO RAISE $2.7 MILLION AND ALL THE UPDATES ARE ONLINE.

WE KEEP PEOPLE REALLY INFORMED.

EVERYBODY CAN GO TO TRAVIS MILLS.ORG AND KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THAT.

IT TRULY IS SOMETHING THAT WE BELIEVE IN.

WE'VE HAD SUCH GREAT SUCCESS WITH IT.

THE FOUR AND SIX FAMILIES THE LAST THREE YEARS, AND WE WANT TO BRING PEOPLE UP AND SHOW THEM THAT, YOU KNOW, THEY CAN DO THINGS AND BUILD A NETWORK.

HONESTLY, NEW YORK CITY HAS A LOT OF PEOPLE, AND I HAVEN'T SEEN ONE OTHER AMPUTEE WALKING AROUND THE LAST 12 HOURS.

I'M TRYING TO BUILD THAT NETWORK SO PEOPLE IN MY SITUATION KNOW THEY'RE NOT ALONE.

IT'S OKAY TO FEEL COMFORTABLE IN YOUR OWN SKIN.

PEOPLE STARE AT YOU, JUST SAY HELLO.

OPEN UP.

BUT IF THEY HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, I LIKE TO HAVE THEM CALL ME, E-MAIL ME, TALK TO ME ABOUT ANYTHING THEY'RE GOING THROUGH.

I WAS FORTUNATE TO BE A PEER MENTOR AT WALTER REED.

STARTED OUT FIRST I WAS LIKE, HEY, TRAVIS, CAN YOU TALK TO THIS GUY?

I CAN'T TELL YOU HIS NAME OR WHAT ROOM HE'S IN.

HE'S NOT IN 48 OR 50 BUT HE MIGHT BE IN BETWEEN THERE.

THEN IT WEPT TO, TRAVIS, WE HAVE JOE UPSTAIRS, MOM DAD, SISTER AND BROTHER ARE HERE.

HE'S IN ROOM 830 OR WHATEVER.

THEY'RE EXPECTING YOU AROUND 2:00 IF YOU CAN MAKE IT.

I TOLD THEM YOU COULD.

EVENTUALLY THEY STARTED REFERRING TO YOU AS THE MAYOR.

THEY DID.

THE BUILDING WE LIVED IN, BUILDING 62, I WOULD ACTUALLY SCRAP CHLOE IN WITH A SEAT BELT.

SHE KNEW THE SIGN LANGUAGE FOR GRAPES BECAUSE SHE COULDN'T TALK YET.

WE'D GO TO THE CAFETERIA, GET A BOWL OF GRAPES, THREE OR FOUR, AND WE'D DRIVE AROUND AND STOP IN PEOPLE'S ROOMS AND ASK HOW EVERYTHING IS GOING, IF THEY HAD QUESTIONS.

I AS HIGHER RANKING THAN MOST OF THE GUYS WHO GOT HIT.

GOOD, BAD OR INDIFFERENT, JUST HOW IT WORKED OUT.

IF THEY HAD ISSUES AND COULDN'T TALK TO THE COMMAND I'D DO IT FOR THEM.

ONE OF THE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED I THINK OVER THE YEAR IS THE REAL HEROES NEVER THIL OF THEMSELVES AS HERE ROZ.

I KNOW YOU'VE SAID THAT, YOU'RE NOT A HERO.

OH, YEAH.

BUT TO US AND A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE, YOU ARE.

I APPRECIATE THAT.

THANK YOU FOR SPENDING SOME TIME.

THANK YOU FOR THE GOOD WORK YOU'RE DOING FOR OTHER FOLKS.

IT'S A PLEASURE MEETING YOU.

I APPRECIATE THAT.

I TOLD THE BOOK HAD TO BE WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY AS I WANTED IT.

THE BIG THING I TELL PEOPLE, I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR MORE THAN ANYBODY ELSE.

I RAISED MY RIGHT HAND FOR ANYBODY ELIMINATION.

I JUST HAD A ROUGH DAY AT WORK.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, MY PROBLEMS ARE NO MORE THAN ANYBODY ELSE.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE WITH THE MILITARY OR BE TRAMATICALLY INJURED TO GET SOMETHING OUT OF THIS BOOK.

I DON'T THINK I'M ANY MORE SPECIAL.

I'LL TELL CHLOE SHE HAS A SPECIAL DAD FOR SURE.

THANKS.

THANKS, MAN.

BE WELL.

AGAIN, THE BOOK IS CALLED 'TOUGH AS THEY COME' WRITTEN BY A TRUE AMERICAN HERO, ARMY STAFF SERGEANT TRAVIS MILLS.

WE'RE DELIGHT THAT THAT HE SPENT SOME TIME WITH US.

> IT WAS SHORTLY AFTER WORLD WAR II ROBERT MOSES PLANNED TO ERECT A TRIBUTE FOR THOSE WHO SERVED TO KEEP OUR NATION AND WORLD FREE IN EVERY ONE OF THE CITY'S FIVE BOROUGHS.

OF THE FIVE MEMORIALS PLANNED, ONLY THE WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL IN BROOKLYN WAS ACTUALLY COMPLETED IN 1951 TO HONOR THE OVER 300,000 MEN AND WOMEN FROM BROOKLYN WHO SERVED.

SHOCKINGLY, IT HAS NOT BEEN ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC FOR DECADES.

FOR OVER 60 YEARS, IT HAS STOOD IN THE PARK UNUTILIZED AND ALMOST FORGOTTEN.

ONLY A HANDFULFUL PEOPLE HAVE EVER SET FOOT INSIDE THIS BUILDING.

TO OBSERVE ITS SACRED WALL OF PLAQUES DEDICATED TO THE OVER 11,000 BROOKLYN-ITES WHO PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE DURING WORLD WAR II.

BUT THERE'S ONE MAN ON A MISSION FIGHTING TO BRING THIS MEMORIAL BACK TO THE PEOPLE.

HI, MY NAME IS TOBA.

WE'RE IN CABIN PLAZA PARK, HOME OF THE BROOKLYN WAR MOORE, BROOKLYN'S WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL.

300,000 PEOPLE FROM BROOKLYN SERVED IN WORLD WAR II.

12,000 OF THEM NEVER CAME HOME AGAIN.

THEIR SACRIFICE, THEIR LIVES IS MEMORIALIZED INSIDE THIS MEMORIAL.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS WALL IS THE WALL OF HONOR, AND ON THE WALL OF HONOR IS A LIST OF 12,000 NAMES OF PEOPLE FROM BROOKLYN WHO SERVED AND DIED DURING WORLD WAR II.

THIS MEMORIAL HAS BEEN CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC FOR 30 YEARS.

I LIVE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, AND I SAW EVERY HOLIDAY THE PARK WOULD BE FILLED WITH FLAGS AND IT TOOK ME ABOUT A YEAR OR SO TO FIND JACK AND ROY VA NASCO.

EVERY DAY ON VETERANS DAY, MEMORIAL DAY, THEY COME TO THE PARK AND LINE THE PARK WITH AMERICAN FLAGS.

I WAS IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY ON A DESTROYER.

JACK WAS IN A TANKER.

WE WERE FOUR BROTHERS WHO SERVED IN WORLD WAR II AT THE SAME TIME.

WE PUT THE FLAGS UP ALL AROUND THE BUILDINGS AND EVERYTHING TO REMEMBER SOME OF THE FALLEN AND VETERANS KILLED IN THE WAR.

SO WE'RE REMEMBERING THEM.

YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE OURSELVES LEFT HIGH SCHOOLS TO JOIN UP WHEN THEY WERE 17, 18 YEARS OLD.

ON MY SHIP, THEY WEREN'T MORE THAN 20 YEARS OLD.

IF ANYONE WAS ON THE SHIP THAT WAS 25 OR 30 YEARS OLD, WE CALLED THEM OLD MEN.

THE NAMES ON THE WALLS INSIDE THE MEMORIAL, THOSE NAMES ARE KIDS FOR JACK AND ROY, ALL THOSE GUY THAT'S ARE LISTED ON THE WALL OF HONOR WILL ALWAYS BE 17, 18, 19 YEARS OLD FOREVER.

♪♪

TALKING TO ROY AND JACK IS LIKE TALKING HISTORY.

EVENTUALLY AS I GOT TO KNOW THEM, I WENT BACK TO THEIR STORE.

THEIR SHOP IS AMAZE, ONE OF THE MOST AWESOME APPLIANCE STORES YOU COULD EVER WANT TO BE PART OF.

WHERE EACH DRAWER IS, WHATEVER IT IS.

THESE PICTURES OF JACK AND I ARE MEMORIES AS WE GREW UP.

HERE THEY ARE.

THAT'S JACK.

IT'S CALLED ALL APPLIANCES, BUT WHAT IT IS, IT'S ALMOST LIKE A MUSEUM.

IT IS A MUSEUM.

DEFINITELY A MUSEUM.

SEE, WE WORK WELL TOGETHER.

ROY, THIS IS YOU WITH PRESIDENT HOWARD GOLDEN BUT I DON'T KNOW WHO THIS IS.

JACK.

THAT'S JACK?

YES.

THREE WORLD WAR II VETS RIGHT HERE.

RIGHT.

JACK, YOU LOOK BETTER NOW.

JACK AND I HAVE BEEN GOING TO AMERICAN LEGION POSTS ALL THESE YEARS, AND EVERYONE PROMISED THEY WERE GOING TO HELP KEEP THIS PLACE OPEN.

SO PEOPLE COULD AT LEAST WALK IN AND WALK OUT AND SEE WHAT THEM 12,000 NAMES THAT ARE ON THAT WALL.

THE BUILDING NEEDS A LOT OF REPAIRS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE.

VETERANS WHO ARE DISABLED IN WHEELCHAIRS CAN COME THERE, PUT THEMSELVES ON AN ELEVATOR, AND GET UP TO THE FIRST FLOOR AND GO INTO THE BUILDING.

IN THE 1940s, ROBERT MOSES, THE INFAMOUS ROBERT MOSES, COMMISSIONED FIVE WORLD WAR II MEMORIALS, ONE IN EVERY BOROUGH, BUT THIS IS THE ONLY ONE THAT WAS BUILT.

WHEN I TALKED TO THE VETS, THE VETS WHO WERE AROUND AS THE MEMORIAL WAS BEING BUILT, THEY SAID THE CONCEPT BEHIND THIS MEMORIAL WAS TO COUNTER WHAT HITLER WAS TRYING TO CREATE AND SORT OF THAT THIS WOULD BE A FREE CENTER SO THAT ANY FAITH, ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE COULD COME IN AND RENT THIS SPACE AND HAVE A CELEBRATION IN HERE OR HAVE, LIKE, AN EDUCATIONAL SEMINAR IN HERE.

THIS IS A COMMUNITY SPACE.

THIS WAS A CIVIL ARTS SPACE.

SO THAT'S WHAT WE HOPE THAT IT WILL BE.

WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR ABOUT FOUR YEARS OR SO.

RAISING AWARENESS.

ON THIS DECK OUT HERE WE HAD 26 WORLD WAR II VETERANS LAST MAY THAT WE HONORED.

JUST TO SAY THANK YOU.

TWO OF THEM ARE NO LONGER WITH US IN A MATTER OF JUST A COUPLE OF MONTHS, AND I'M JUST HONORED BY THE FACT THAT I GOT A CHANCE TO KNOW THEM.

THIS IS ABOUT SAYING THANK YOU.

THOSE PEOPLE WHO SACRIFICED, WHETHER THEY WERE IN EUROPE OR WHETHER THEY WERE IN THE PACIFIC, THEIR SACRIFICE BEN FITD THE REST OF THE WORLD.

I THINK IT WILL BE INSPIRING TO FUTURE GENERATIONS.

I THINK THAT IT WILL INSPIRE PEOPLE TO LOOK AT THE NAMES MUCH THE PEOPLE WHO DID SACRIFICE.

AND IT COULD HAVE A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THEIR LIVES, WHETHER IT LEADS TO ANY KIND OF SERVICE, WHETHER IT'S MILITARY SERVICE OR POLITICAL SERVICE OR SERVICE IN THE COMMUNITY.

I THINK THAT THAT IS INSPIRING.

JOINING US NOW IS THE MAN BEHIND THE MOVE TO MAKE BROOKLYN'S WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL A PLACE FOR ALL OF US TO ENJOY.

TOBA, WELCOME.

WHAT SORT OF REACTION ARE YOU GETTING WHEN YOU'RE GETTING OUT THERE AND SAYING TO PEOPLE, WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING TO BRING THIS MEMORIAL BACK.

EVERY TIME WE TALK TO SOMEBODY, PEOPLE TURN TO US AND SAY, HOW CAN WE HELP?

IT STARTED WITH OUR STATE SENATOR DAN SQUADRON AND THEN JOANNE SIMONS OUR ASSEMBLYWOMAN.

HE TALKED TO US ABOUT BECOMING A 501 C 3 NONPROFIT.

SHE HELPED US BECOME A 501C3.

OUR CITY COUNCIL GOT US MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF THE GROUNDS FOR THE MEMORIAL.

AND THEN OF COURSE IN AUGUST THE BOROUGH PRESIDENT ERIC ADAM CONTACTED US.

TELL US THAT STORY.

THAT WAS AMAZING.

AS YOU SAW, WE -- IN MAY WE HONORED THE 26 WORLD WAR II BROOKLYN VETERANS WHO ARE STILL WITH US, AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

THE NAVY CAME OUT WITH A MARCHING BAND, THE AIR FORCE CAME OUT.

AND ERIC ADAMS WAS ONE OF THE SPEAKERS.

HE SAW WHAT WAS HAPPENING AND WHAT WE WERE DOING.

AND THEN HIS CHIEF OF STAFF SAID TO ME AT THE HE END OF THE EVENT, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

THIS IS AT THE FOOT OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE.

AS YOU COME OVER THE BRIDGE, HERE IS THIS MEMORIAL THAT NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT.

HE SAID, WE SHOULD REALLY FOCUS A LITTLE BIT ON IT.

THEN IN A MATTER OF WEEKS, THEY CALLED ME AND SAID, YOU KNOW, WE WANT TO TALK TO YOU.

WE'RE GOING TO COMMIT $1 MILLION TOWARDS THE RESTORATION OF IT.

WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD THAT?

WHEN HE SAID THAT TO US, TO ME AND THEN I GOT THIS BIG PAPER CHECK THAT SAID $1 MILLION, IT'S BEYOND BELIEF.

IT'S BEYOND BELIEF.

BUT I TELL YOU SOMETHING, FOR ANYBODY WHO'S BEEN INVOLVED IN SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT, I KNOW WHAT THE GOAL IS, RIGHT?

SO $1 MILLION I KNOW THE CHECKLISTS AND I KNOW NAVY THE GET IT A RAMP BECAUSE IT'S NOT HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE.

A RAMP NEEDS TO BE BUILT.

IT'S A GRANITE AND LIMESTONE BUILDING SO IT NEEDS TO HAVE THAT TYPE OF RAMP.

WHAT'S YOUR VISION FOR IT WHEN I SAY YOU, I MEAN EVERYBODY INVOLVED.

FOR ALL OF US, JUST SO YOU KNOW, TO BE FAIR, WE'RE PARTNERED UP WITH THE PARKS DEPARTMENT.

WE'VE PARTNERED UP WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS AND PRIVATE DONATIONS.

THE VISION FOR THE MEMORIAL IS SELF-SUSTAINING.

IT HAS TO BE A SELF-SUSTAINING MEMORIAL, EDUCATION CENTER, VETERAN CENTER, A PLACE FOR SEMINARS AND ALSO CELEBRATIONS, WHICH WAS THE ORIGINAL GOAL.

I THINK WE HAD TALKED EARLIER AND I HAD SAID, YOU KNOW, IT'S AMAZING THE MORE I LEARN ABOUT HOW THE MEMORIAL BEGAN AND HOW WE PARALLEL THAT GROUP.

THERE WAS A GROUP OF PEOPLE IT STARTED WITH THE PUBLISHER OF THE BROOKLYN EAGLE WHO HAD SAID, YOU KNOW, WE REALLY NEED TO MOVE ON THIS.

IT WAS REALLY IN 1944 WHEN HE STARTED TALKING ABOUT IT.

AND THEY STARTED A NONPROFIT AND RAISED $520,000 AND THE CITY WITH THE HELP OF THE PARKS COMMISSIONER ROBERT MOSES DONATED THE LAND WHICH BECAME PARK LAND AND SO TOGETHER THEY PUT IT TOGETHER.

NOW WE'RE WORKING WITH THE PARKS DEPARTMENT.

SO IT'S A CLOING OF THE CIRCLE.

IT IS AMAZING.

I HAVE TO SAY, TO GET TO YOUR QUESTION, THAT PEOPLE HAVE REACHED OUT TO US IN EVERY WAY THAT THEY CAN, AND THEY'VE SAID, WE WANT TO BE A PART OF IT.

EVEN BEING SMALL, WE RAKE LEAVES ON WEEKEND AROUND THE MEMORIAL, WE TEND GROUNDS IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PARKS DEPARTMENT.

YESTERDAY WE HAD 20 4-YEAR-OLDS COME IN FROM A PRESCHOOL AND WE BOUGHT RAKE BZ THIS SIZE AND THEY CAME IN AND CLEANED UP AND ARE PART OF THE PARK.

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT THE BROOKLYN PARKS COMMISSIONER SAID TO ME.

ONE THING WE'RE DOING IS CONNECTING PEOPLE TO THE PARK LIKE NEVER BEFORE.

AN EXAMPLE OF IT, BECAUSE I'VE LIVED ACROSS THE STREET FOR 30 YEARS NOT KNOWING WHAT THIS BUILDING WAS.

WELL, IT'S A GREAT STORY OF WHAT PEOPLE OF GOOD HEART AND GOOD SOUL CAN DO TO REMIND US OF THAT GREATEST GENERATION, ESPECIALLY AS WE'RE LOSING THEM.

THANK YOU FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US AND GOOD LUCK.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

WE THANK ALSO ALL OF OUR VETERANS WHO SERVE DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM.

THIS ENTIRE VETERANS DAY EPISODE OF 'METROFOCUS' AND ORIGINAL CONTENT IS AVAILABLE ONLINE OR THE APP.

WHILE YOU'RE ON THE WEBSITE, CATCH THE LATEST NEWS, TRAFFIC AND WEATHER REPORT.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK.

ALL JUST A CLICK AWAY ON METRO FOCUS.ORG.

UNTIL THEN, FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER.

FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE INFORMATION IMPACTING YOUR COMMUNITY.

Announcer: FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY -- CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY --

IT SEEMED VERY SIMILAR TO WHEN A FLASH BULB GOES OFF IN YOUR EYES AND YOU'RE JUST STUNNED.

I COULD BE THE LUCKIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD, THE FIRST AMBULANCE THAT CAME WAS NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN.

EVERYBODY AT THE HOSPITAL, DR. STEEG, HIS STAFF, THE CUTE RESIDENT, AND LIFE IS GOOD.

THEY MADE IT EVEN LONGER AND BETTER FOR ME.

-- Captions by VITAC -- www.vitac.com

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019