Updated: May. 29, 2024, 1:35 p.m. | Published: May. 28, 2024, 10:26 p.m.

By Carol Ann Benanti | benanti@siadvance.com

City Councilman Joe Borelli, fourth from right, presents a street sign to the family of USAF Capt. Retired Ted Cohen’s family. Center left is Borough President Vito Fossella. (Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Councilman Joe Borelli conducted a street co-naming ceremony in Great Kills last week to pay tribute to USAF Captain (Ret.) Ted Cohen, who served in the Air Force from 1959 to 1969 and continued to encourage and support military causes until his passing last year.

U.S. Air Force Cpt. Theodore “Ted” Cohen. (Office of Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis)

Present at Ridgewood and Barlow avenues in Great Kills were Borough President Vito Fossella, family members and friends of Cohen and fellow veterans and representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblymen Michael Reilley, Michael Tannousis and Sam Pirozzolo, and District Attorney Michael McMahon.

Cohen’s fellow veterans salute the flag. (Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)
City Councilman Joe Borelli begins the street co-naming ceremony, while Borough President Vito Fossella and family members look on. (Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)
Dr. Vincent Maligno leads the Pledge of Allegiance. (Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)
Cohen’s grandson, Jared Carbone, and his dog. (Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)


City Councilman Borelli: “Ted Cohen was a friend and advocate for Staten Island and our veterans. I am honored to co-name this street in his honor for serving our country and our community so nobly. He was a true hero and a gentleman.”

(Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)

Borough President Fossella: “Ted was an example of devotion to his country, and devotion to his fellow man. He sacrificed his time and service defending his fellow soldiers by air in Vietnam, and carried most of his life supporting important charities for veterans and the Staten Island community. Ted was a champion for fairness and humble servant of his community, and an overall good man.”

Retired Hospice staffer Janet Maccario: “Ted loved his family, he loved Staten Island, he loved his fellow veterans, and he loved to talk. He was a larger than life personality. When I think of Ted I am reminded of the Maya Angelou quote, ‘A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again and again.’”

Janet Maccario, a retired Hospice staffer. (Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)

Lori Cohen-Carbone, Cohen’s daughter: “I am overwhelmed to see how involved my father was with his fellow veterans and Staten Island as a whole. The showing of love and support today shown to me and my family is overwhelming. I was able to meet so many people who told me stories of my father and it was a truly amazing day. I am very grateful for the experience and for the kindness of all the people who made this happen.”

Lori Cohen-Carbone, Cohen’s daughter. (Courtesy of Frank Rapacciuolo)

Born in Brooklyn on Feb. 20, 1939 to Ida and Harry Cohen, Theodore “Ted” Cohen attended James Madison High School and Brooklyn College where he was one of seven accepted to the Air Force ROTC.

In June 1959 at the age of 19, he received the Second Lieutenant’s Bar.

Sent to Greenville Air Force Base in Mississippi, Cohen began basic training for pilots and aircrews on old World War II single engine aircraft.

Capt. Theodore “Ted” Cohen when he was in the U.S. Air Force. (Courtesy/Office of Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis)

On his way south of the Mason/Dixon Line, along with several other cadets from Brooklyn, Cohen and the others protested when Black cadets were sent to the back of the bus. An early example of his commitment to advocating for fairness and justice, his actions resulted in spending the night in jail.

From 1959 to 1964, he was appointed to Strategic Air Command (SAC), assigned to B-47 medium bombers at the 16th Air Force in Southern Spain and then to the 8th Air Force Unit at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire.

While Cohen was stationed at Pease, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred and he served as a backup unit to a SAC B-52 fleet where he sat on the runway for nearly 24 hours with nuclear weapons onboard the bomber.

He also had a decisive impact during the Vietnam War, flying 26 close air support missions, protecting his fellow soldiers on ground.

In 1964, he ended his tenure in the Air Force at the rank of captain before he joined the New York Air National Guard 106th Combat Support Group in 1969.

In 1973, Cohen earned a master’s of business administration degree from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business and taught Economics at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.

Married in 1960 to Janice Levi, the couple, along with their young daughters Lori and Lisa, moved to Great Kills in 1968.

Their second daughter, Lisa, born on Jan. 12, 1967, died tragically in her sleep at the age of 24, after attending Cornell University and working for Solomon Brothers.

A scholarship in Lisa’s name, established by the Cohens, is awarded annually to a graduating student from Tottenville High School, Lisa’s alma mater.

Cohen retired at 52 to spend more time and care for his wife, Janice, who was diagnosed with a rare illness that causes brain atrophy, strokes and dementia,until her death in 2013.

Despite his losses, he continued to offer encouragement, inspiration and care of others, especially serving his fellow veterans by delivering food to homebound service members, driving them to appointments, and offering assistance in completing VA paperwork.

A member of the Air Force Association, the United Staten Island Veterans Organization, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, Cohen organized the annual Poppy Sales and funding for a charity called Project 2 Heal which raises puppies as supportive service dogs for veterans.

Cohen also ran fundraising efforts for not-for-profits such as Michael’s Cause, VFW National Home, VFW Patriots Pen, VFW Patriots Pride, The Air Force Association, The American Legion Boys State and Father Capodanno Academy.

Along with other veterans, Cohen successfully advocated for the return of the Staten Island Memorial Day Parade which had been cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Veteran’s Day 2022, the Progressive Insurance Company, in collaboration with Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, honored Cohen by presenting the keys to a 2020 Nissan Rogue as the recipient of the Keys to Progress Award.

Ted died on March 25, 2023.

He is survived by his daughter, Lori, son-in-law, Joseph Carbone, grandsons Jared and Kevin, and his sister, Anita.