Spotlight on Veteran Patrick “Pat” Dolan

By Jeremy Warneke

Enlistment Photo

WWII enlistment photo

Born in 1921 in East Harlem to Irish immigrants, Patrick “Pat” Dolan grew up in the Bronx, where he raised his own family and continues to reside. He fought for his country in World War II and went on to be an impassioned labor leader, community activist and actor.

Since he was the oldest among seven brothers and sisters, Pat began working at the Horn and Hardart automat in lower Manhattan in 1938 to help his family through the Great Depression. Four years later, at the age of 20, he was drafted into the Army and trained first as a mechanic in Mississippi. In Alabama, he studied chemical warfare and combat training. In early 1944, he sailed for Sicily on a ship that broke down while traveling the Atlantic Ocean unescorted. Many days alone at sea, the ship was eventually rescued by destroyers, which helped Pat arrive safely in Italy 28 days after leaving port.



While serving in Rome, Pat caught three Italian men stealing. When he apprehended them, a Captain from Massachusetts ordered the three men to dig their own graves. He then ordered Pat, a private, to shoot the men, but Pat refused, sparing them their lives.

In another Italian city, Pat and two paratroopers saw an English soldier kick a little girl who was digging through the trash for food. Enraged, Pat pulled his rifle out on the limey, threatening to shoot him if he kicked her again. Pat’s two comrades also pulled their guns out, causing the man to flee.

In May 1945, Pat left Italy for Trinidad in preparation for the invasion of Japan, which was cancelled as a result of Japan’s surrender in August. Pat was honorably discharged in early December of the same year.

Pat received the following awards and medals for his service:

  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Bronze Battle Star (Rome-Arno)
  • American Campaign Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII
  • World War II Victory Medal
On the set of "Mona Lisa Smile"

On the set of Mona Lisa Smile

Pat worked for Consolidated Edison from 1946 until he started working for the Transit Authority in 1962. Very involved with the Transport Workers Union, he became a general organizer for over 6,000 employees before retiring in 1986.

Pat was appointed to Community Board 11 in 1993 as a Council Member Provenzano nominee. Around this time, he became an actor, serving as an extra in big time productions which include but are not limited to movies such as Boomerang, Money Train, For Love of the Game, Mona Lisa Smile and The Interpreter, and TV shows such as Chappelle’s Show, Law & Order, and Sex and the City. In 2003, Pat became a member of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artist One Union.

Acting Portrait

Acting Portrait

A lifetime member of the VFW Gunhill Post 271, Pat continues to advocate for the rights of all veterans. He often attends the Public School 108 Tribute to Veterans event every year.

An active member of Saint Francis Xavier Church in Morris Park, Patrick is a devoted family man who has been married to his lovely wife Rita since 1955. Together, they have two daughters and three grandchildren.


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