From Saturday's Washington Post:
David Pogoloff Veterans Affairs Official
David Pogoloff, 83, the Veterans Affairs Department's longtime liaison with the U.S. House of Representative, died of cancer Jan. 24 at his home in Silver Spring.
Known among the legion of federal agency representatives on Capitol Hill as the dean of liaisons, Mr. Pogoloff worked out of an office in the Rayburn Building for more than 30 years until his retirement in 1985.
It marked one of the longest tenures in a line of civil service work where the turnover rate remains fairly high.
Mr. Pogoloff's mild temper and good-natured attitude suited him well in a job that put him in constant contact with lawmakers and their staffs on a variety of issues, from a constituent's question about veterans' benefits to the legislative history of veterans' health care programs.
"If he could find a way to help improve someone's life, he would do it," said Philip R. Mayo, who succeeded Mr. Pogoloff as the VA's chief House liaison and later became director of both the House and Senate liaison offices when the two operations were consolidated.
A major part of Mr. Pogoloff's demeanor came from a thirst for life he felt after a near-death experience in World War II when he was a glider infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.
At that time, he was badly wounded while fighting in the Battle of San Pietro, a small village in Italy. His company was nearly decimated by the exploding mortar shells. He suffered wounds to both legs.
Unable to move, he lay on the battlefield for three days. "He could feel the bullets whizzing over his head and could hear the terrifying screams of his dying buddies," a family member wrote.
Finally, a truce was reached to allow soldiers to recover their fallen comrades from a mountainside. Mr. Pogoloff was evacuated on the back of a mule and taken to a camp, where his right leg was amputated above the knee.
When his health worsened, an Army chaplain administered last rites, even though Mr. Pogoloff was Jewish. He began to do better and eventually was taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for rehabilitation. There, he met his future wife, Florence.
He briefly returned to his native Brooklyn but came back to Washington in 1945 to train as a national service officer with Disabled American Veterans, a national nonprofit service organization.
He received the Veterans Administration's highest honor, the Exceptional Service Award. His World War II medals include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Florence Pogoloff of Silver Spring; two children, Marilyn Raphael of Silver Spring and Stephen Pogoloff of Durham, N.C.; a brother; and four grandchildren.
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