Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park Announce Special Event Hours

Check below for the updated winter hours

Closed Thanksgiving (November 23rd)
OPEN Friday November 24th–Sunday 26th  

November 27th–December 7th
Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday–Sunday
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Mon. Nov. 27 – OPEN
Tues. Nov. 28 – Closed
Wed. Nov. 29 – OPEN
Thurs. Nov. 30 – Closed
Fri. Dec. 1 – OPEN
Sat. Dec. 2 – Closed
Sun. Dec. 3 – Closed
Mon. Dec. 4 – OPEN
Tues. Dec. 5 – Closed
Wed. Dec. 6 – OPEN
Thurs. Dec. 7 – OPEN

Special hours while the USS Little Rock is in Buffalo

December 8th–18th
OPEN EVERY DAY— all three ships, the museum building, and the outdoor exhibit yard.
Weather permitting.

Special Winter hours:

December 19th–25th
Open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Ship access may be limited due to weather and ongoing maintenance.

Tues. Dec. 19 – Closed
Wed. Dec. 20 – OPEN
Thurs. Dec. 21 – Closed
Fri. Dec. 22 – OPEN
Sat. Dec. 23 – Closed
Sun. Dec. 24 – Closed
Mon. Dec. 25 – Closed

Special Hours for IIHF World Junior Hockey Tournament

December 26th–January 5th
Open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Ship Tours will be limited depending on weather conditions and maintenance work; however, the museum building will be open normal hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).
A reduced admission price will be in effect when ships are closed – $5.00/adult – $3.00/child

Tues. Dec. 26 – OPEN
Wed. Dec. 27 – OPEN
Thurs. Dec. 28 – OPEN
Fri. Dec. 29 – OPEN
Sat. Dec. 30 – OPEN
Sun. Dec. 31 – OPEN
Mon. Jan. 1 – OPEN
Tues. Jan. 2 – Closed
Wed. Jan. 3 – OPEN
Thurs. Jan. 4 – Closed
Fri. Jan. 5 – OPEN

Regular Winter Hours:

Remainder of January 2018 thru March 2018
Ships will be closed for maintenance & repairs. On certain occasions, one or more ships may be open.
Check our Facebook page for daily updates.

Veterans Day Weekend Wrap-up

Last weekend, the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park hosted several events including Friday’s Veterans Day “Wall of Honor Ceremony” that included a tribute to the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Juneau. The Naval Park’s Hall of Honor was packed with family, friends and the media.

On Saturday, the Naval Park announced the first African American Military Veterans Monument that will be built in the Garden of Monuments. Once again, the Hall was a full crowd that included political dignitaries such as the Lt. Governor, Mayor, various State Senators, and members of the Assembly and County government. Also in attendance were Assemblywomen Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who is chair of the committee, and Board member Laura Zaepfel.

Capt. Roche spoke, on behalf of the Park, about this ambitious project which plans to raise $800,000 to complete the project. The committee is selling bricks that will be placed at the site for $250 each.

Here are some videos from last weekend:

96-year-old Priest Honored for Service (WKBW Channel 7, Nov. 10, 2017)
Plan Unveiled to Honor African American Military Veterans (Spectrum News, Nov. 11, 2017)

Buffalo Naval Park celebrates Veterans Day with Wall of Honor ceremony

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Nov. 10, 2017 – The Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park added six new Western New Yorkers to its Wall of Honor this morning during its annual Veterans Day (observed) ceremony held in the park’s Hangar Building. In addition, park officials announced that all veterans who wish to come tour the ships and museum on Saturday, Nov. 11, will receive free admission from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with proper military I.D.

A wonderful crowd as the Naval Park adds six new Western New Yorkers to its Wall of Honor during its annual Veterans Day (observed) ceremony held on Friday, Nov. 11 in the Hangar Building.

“Veterans Day, unlike Memorial Day, is a day to celebrate all of our veterans, past and present, throughout our communities,” said Naval Park Executive Director Brian Roche, a retired Captain in the U.S. Coast Guard. “What better way for a park dedicated to honoring their service than to invite them to join us on a day that’s dedicated to thanking them for their sacrifices.”

The honorees added to the Wall of Honor include:

  • Dolores Kwiatkowski was one the Naval Park’s first employees when its doors opened in 1979. Upon the death of the park’s first superintendent, Kwiatkowski became the subject matter expert and unofficial park historian. She was frequently relied upon by all staff members for her extensive knowledge. Sadly, in 2016 Dolores passed away after a long series of illnesses.
  • Monsignor Dino Lorenzetti served as a Staff Sargent in the Army from Nov. 1942 to Dec. 1945. He was ordained as a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in 1954 and still today — 63 years later — celebrates mass for Protestant, Catholic and Jewish service members and their families.
  • Edmund Mozgawa served as petty officer second class in the U.S. Navy. Mozgawa was killed on Nov. 13, 1942 when the USS Juneau was sunk by a Japanese submarine, killing the majority of the 700 crewmembers aboard, including the five Sullivan Brothers, for whom the Buffalo Naval Park’s Destroyer is named.
  • Jeremiah Reilly served as a Gunner’s Mate, Third Class, originally assigned to the USS Brooklyn but reassigned to the USS Juneau. Reilly was also among the casualties on Nov. 13, 1942.
  • Gerald Sansone enlisted in the Navy in 1961 at just 17 years old with his father’s written consent. He served in active duty on the USS Independence from Jan. 1961 to Dec. 1965. He was honorably discharged on March 12, 1968.
  • Harry Uhl was drafted into the U.S. Army in Sept. 1965. He was sent to Vietnam in Feb. 1966 and was part of the Mortar Platoon of Company B, 1st Infantry Division. Uhl, earned a Bronze Star in Oct. 1966 and earned the rank of Sergeant E5 in Jan. 1967. His service of Vietnam ended in Feb. 1967.
  • The ceremony included speeches and stories from family members as well as personal accounts from surviving Wall of Honor Inductees.

​”This is a moment to reflect upon the dedication, courage, and willing sacrifice of all those who wear the nation’s uniform,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Regardless of where they are stationed or the nature of their service, in peace and in war, these men and women have answered the call of duty. Today’s ceremony at the Buffalo and Erie Naval Park honors their service and reminds us all of the price of freedom.”

In addition to comments from the Lt. Governor, New York State Senator Tim Kennedy (63rd District) reflected on the generations of men and women that served for the great country we live.

“I am humbled to participate in today’s ceremony honoring the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “On this Veterans Day, we should take stock of how lucky we are to live in a nation where generations of service members have selflessly given so much of themselves to protect our freedom.”

State Assemblyman Mickey Kearns (142nd District) spoke to the level of pride we should have for our veterans.

“The commitment, bravery and devotion embodied by this country’s veterans is something, as a citizen, to be deeply proud of,” said Assemblyman Mickey Kearns. “Their great sense of selflessness and courage represents the best of the best in our community. We know that our veterans didn’t join the service, that their families didn’t make sacrifices, for the awards and recognition, but we as a society owe these men and women a debt of gratitude for putting us before themselves. For dedicating their lives to ensuring that this country can continue to strive to reach its greatest ideals. I am humbled and honored to stand beside these great men and women, and say thank you to all those who have served.”

A proclamation was read by Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo and the ceremony was emceed by Naval Park Board Chairman Don Alessi.

“Veterans Day is celebrated each year on Nov. 11, commemorating the end of World War I — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 — when the peace treaty with Germany went into effect,” Mr. Alessi added. “Like this day, our Wall of Honor provides an everlasting tribute to all who have served in our armed forces.”

Whether honoring those who are still with us or remembering those who have gone before us, an inscription on the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park Wall of Honor not only serves as a lasting memorial for all to see, but it also celebrates that veteran’s life for generations to come. To submit a veteran’s name to be inscribed on the Wall of Honor, please visit: buffalonavalpark.org/support-us/wall-of-honor/.

The family of Edmund Mozgawa, a petty officer second class in the U.S. Navy. Mozgawa was killed on Nov. 13, 1942 when the USS Juneau was sunk by a Japanese submarine, killing the majority of the 700 crew members aboard, including the five Sullivan Brothers, for whom the Buffalo Naval Park’s Destroyer is named.

The family of Jeremiah Reilly, a Gunner’s Mate, Third Class, originally assigned to the USS Brooklyn but reassigned to the USS Juneau. Reilly was also among the casualties on Nov. 13, 1942.

The family of Dolores Kwiatkowski, one the Naval Park’s first employees when its doors opened in 1979. Upon the death of the park’s first superintendent, Kwiatkowski became the subject matter expert and unofficial park historian. She was frequently relied upon by all staff members for her extensive knowledge. Sadly, in 2016 Dolores passed away after a long series of illnesses.

Sgt. Harry Uhl being presented his Wall of Honor plaque by Board Chairman Don Alessi. Sgt, Uhl was drafted into the U.S. Army in Sept. 1965. He was sent to Vietnam in Feb. 1966 and was part of the Mortar Platoon of Company B, 1st Infantry Division. Uhl, earned a Bronze Star in Oct. 1966 and earned the rank of Sergeant E5 in Jan. 1967. His service of Vietnam ended in Feb. 1967.

The daughter of Gerald Sansone speaking on his behalf, as he and his wife stand alongside her. Sansone enlisted in the Navy in 1961 at just 17 years old with his father’s written consent. He served in active duty on the USS Independence from Jan. 1961 to Dec. 1965. He was honorably discharged on March 12, 1968.

96-year-old Monsignor Dino Lorenzetti speaking about his time in war and priesthood. Lorenzetti served as a Staff Sargent in the Army from Nov. 1942 to Dec. 1945. He was ordained as a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in 1954 and still today — 63 years later — celebrates mass for Protestant, Catholic and Jewish service members and their families.

Making Way for History: Kearns Awards Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park $250,000 in State Grant for Museum Expansion Project

The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park will convert hangar building into ‘Hall of Honor’ to make room for historic items and memorabilia.

 

Buffalo, NY– On Friday, October 27th 2017, Assemblyman Kearns announced $250,000 in state funding for the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park. Kearns was joined in the Hangar Building at the Naval & Military Park by the park’s chairman of the Board of Directors Donald A. Alessi, and Executive Director Captain Brian Roche. The money awarded to the Naval & Military Park will be used for renovating, updating and expanding Buffalo’s exceptional Naval and Military Park’s Hall of Honor, formerly The Hangar Building.

As popularity of the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park continues to grow, so has the desire from the public to donate historic items and personal memorabilia to the park. The limited amount of exhibition space for such items has led to the development of a plan to convert the hangar building, currently used mainly for storage and events, into a ‘Hall of Honor” with exhibit space. As of now, the only space readily available to display artifacts and other historical items is on the second floor of the museum’s main building. This expansion and renovation of the hangar building into a ‘Hall of Honor’ would provide the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park the opportunity to take in and showcase a variety of historic exhibits, items and personal memorabilia donated to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park and space to expand its educational programs.

“As the son of a Korean War veteran, the dedication of the Buffalo Naval & Military Park to capturing Buffalo’s rich military history is admirable,” said Kearns. “I am grateful to New York State for contributing this funding to a worthy project, aimed at continuing the renaissance in Buffalo. Walking through the Naval Park offers a calm and soothing environment of remembrance for our veterans. I am honored to help in any way to ensure the continued success of the Naval Park and the vital role it serves in our community.”

“The Naval Park’s Board of Directors and staff is grateful to Assemblyman Mickey Kearns for recognizing the importance of the Park as one of the top tourist attractions in Western New York and its mission to honor Veterans,” added Naval Park Board Chairman Don Alessi. “The grant will greatly help foster that recognition as we reconstruct our Hangar Building into a “Hall of Honor.”

“Assemblyman Mickey Kearns is a devoted supporter for veterans and his most gracious grant is a true example of his deep commitment to the Park,” said Captain Brian Roche, executive director of the Naval Park. “The Assemblyman’s grant will further enhance momentum to the building of the Naval Park’s Hall of Honor.”

Support for the project has also come in from the City of Buffalo, which dedicated bond funds of $240,750 in 2016 to develop design plans and construction documents for the ‘Hall of Honor’ expansion. The design process is currently underway, with completed plans expected in 2018. Erie County has also dedicated bond funds of $960,000 in 2016 to implement Phase 1 of construction.

buffalo naval park, mickey kearns, don alessi

Board Chairman Don Alessi thanking Assemblyman Mickey Kearns for the generous $250,000 grant for the Park.

Captain Brian Roche, BNMP, Buffalo, NY, Buffalo Naval Park

The media looking on as Captain Brian Roche welcomes guests to the press conference.

Mickey Kearns, Captain Brian Roche, Don Alessi

(From left to right) Don Alessi, Board Chairman, Assemblymen Mickey Kearns and Capt. Brian Roche.

Join us in November for a Toast to the Troops!

Throughout November – Veterans Appreciation Month – the Buffalo Naval & Military Park is partnering with several WNY craft breweries and bars — together with 7 Eyewitness News WKBW and Country 106.5 WYRK— in a fundraiser to honor our veterans and support the Naval Park.

Simply stop into any of the establishments listed below, donate whatever amount you like, and sign a “Toast to the Troops” card which they’ll post proudly at that location. Then — raise your glass with those around you to salute and give thanks to our veterans for all they’ve done for our country!

Flying Bison Brewing Company
Big Ditch Brewing Company 
Hamburg Brewing Company
Liberty Hound restaurant
Ebenezer Ale House
Ulrich’s Tavern
Caputi’s Sheridan Pub
Thirsty Buffalo
Lafayette Brewing Company Buffalo
Fred’s Buffalo
Wing City Grille
12 Gates Brewing Co.
Public House on the Lake

Would you like to see your establishment on this list? There’s no cost to participate!

Just call the Naval Park at (716) 847-1773 and ask for Paul.

See invite letter below.

Dear Friend of the Naval Park:

In honor of Veterans Month – November – and in support of the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, we are partnering with area microbreweries, locals pubs, and restaurants throughout the region on a campaign we’re calling “Toast to the Troops.”

The concept is simple: whenever patrons stop in, we just ask that your servers/bartenders ask them if they’d like to make a Toast to the Troops.  And for whatever monetary donation they’d like to give ($1 minimum suggested), they’ll get the attached card, which they can sign and give back to the server, who will then display it on a wall in your bar/restaurant throughout the month.  All proceeds benefit the Naval & Military Park.

There’s no cost to you to participate, and we only ask that you hang on to the money for us in between our weekly pick-ups.  Our support package includes a stack of cards, a sharpie marker, a roll of masking tape and a collection envelope, so hopefully, this will be virtually effortless on your part.  In return, we’ll include your establishment’s name on our Naval Park website and in social media posts as a participant with the intention to drive some traffic your way as well. Please share your photos with us on our Facebook page.

By the way, Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11, so this could be a nice way for you to gain some extra patrons that day by promoting this on your own web/social media!

If you have any questions, feel free to call me on my cell 716.207.3992 or email me at
paul@buffalonavalpark.org.

Thank you for your support.

Paul Marzello
Director of Development
Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park
Office: 716.847.1773, ext.14
Cell: 716.207.3992
paul@buffalonavalpark.org

Commissioning USS Little Rock (LCS 9) Set for Saturday, December 16, 2017

The future USS Little Rock LCS 9, one of the newest US Navy littoral combat ships (LCS), will make her way to Buffalo for an official Commissioning Ceremony on Saturday, December 16, 2017. A ship commissioning is an event that marks the time when a new ship officially enters the US Navy fleet. LCS 9 and her crew are expected to arrive in Buffalo on Friday, December 8, 2017 for a week-long commissioning celebration. A schedule of events for Commissioning Week (December 8 – December 17) is being finalized and will be released next week.

read the full press release on the USS Little Rock Commissioning Committee website. 

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival Artists embark to Buffalo

Buffalo, New YorkVeterans from around the nation will be coming to Buffalo, October 23–30 for the 2017 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF). This national event is the celebration and grand finale stage and art show of talent competitions representing 51 categories of art, creative writing, dance, drama and music, for Veterans across the nation, treated in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system.

Over 120 Veterans will exhibit their artwork or perform musical, dance, dramatic or original writing selections in a gala variety show to be held Sunday, October 29 at UB Center for the Arts. The art exhibit and creative writers’ meet and greet takes place from noon–1:45 pm in the Atrium, and the stage show begins at 2 pm on the Mainstage Theatre. A professional orchestra will accompany the performance. VA medical facilities incorporate creative arts into their recreation therapy programs enhancing rehabilitation for both inpatients and outpatients. This annual competition recognizes the progress and recovery made through creative arts therapy, and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our Nation’s Veterans after disease, disability or life crisis.

Two local winners will participate; James Becker’s “Intraflection” stood out in the Military Combat Experience category and David Krieger’s, “They Call Me Jake” in the essay (other) category.

“This showcase of talented Veterans highlights the therapeutic benefits of the arts,” shared Pamela Kaznowski, VA Western New York Healthcare System Recreation Therapy Supervisor and Host site coordinator. “This is an exciting event for Veterans, VA staff, volunteers and the community. Everyone is welcome to attend the October 29th event! ”

Tickets are available by calling 716-862-6814 for this free event open to the public, presented by Department of Veterans Affairs and American Legion Auxiliary.

Buffalo native aboard doomed World War II ship died 75 years ago with the five Sullivan brothers

Source: The Buffalo News
By: Lou Michel
Date: September 22, 2017

Earlier this week Jerry Reilly’s 91-year-old cousin sat on the porch of her Old First Ward home the two had shared as children.

She reminisced about the World War II sailor who died 75 years ago with the five Sullivan brothers and nearly 700 other shipmates aboard the USS Juneau.

Betty Barrett did not hold back in sharing Reilly’s tough upbringing. She knew it would be tempered by the praise her cousin received at Friday’s memorial service on the cobblestone sidewalk next to the USS The Sullivans at Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park.

The story of the Sullivan brothers is well known. From Iowa, they had all enlisted following the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite resistance from the Navy, they were granted their wish to “stick together” and were all assigned to the doomed Juneau.

Click for the full article.

Buffalo Naval Park hosts ceremony to unveil and dedicate new Gold Star Memorial marker

Ceremony and memorial honor families who have lost loved ones during military service

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sept. 24, 2017 — Today the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park officially unveiled a new plaque that will serve as a memorial to families who have lost a family member during military service. Known as “Gold Star” families, they were honored on National Gold Star Mother’s Day, the last Sunday of September annually.

Buffalo Naval and Military Park, Gold Star Mothers, BNMP,

Several Western New York Gold Star Mothers gather at the new Gold Star Memorial marker unveiled today at the Buffalo Naval Park. Each has lost a child during military service to our country. This new memorial serves to remind our community of the sacrifice which they and their families have endured.

The new Gold Star plaque is adjacent to the previously existing Blue Star plaque, which recognizes the sacrifice all families with loved ones serving in the military endure. The new marker was funded by the Bowmansville Garden Club, which has a special focus on Gold Star families in many of the gardens they design, including the Russell J. Salvatore Patriots and Heroes Park and the Theodore Roosevelt Inauguration site.

The ceremony was held on the Veterans Park Promenade, which is open year around to the public at no cost. State Senator Chris Jacobs and State Assemblyman Mickey Kearns were on hand to express their gratitude and honor the sacrifices made by the Gold and Blue Star families present. They were joined by Naval Park board and staff members, the Erie County Sheriff’s Pipes & Drums Patriot Guard Riders, and numerous veterans.

The Blue Star military service flag was first created during World War I by a father to recognize his two sons battling in the front line of duty. It features a red border and white interior with a blue star in the center. In more recent years, the Gold Star flag was developed, following the same design. It is hung during wartime to recognize the families of those who have lost loved ones through their military service.

The ceremony began with remarks from the Naval Park’s Executive Director, Captain Brain Roche, who expressed his deepest condolences for the relatives of our fallen heroes.

“The families who have joined us here today, as well as many more across Western New York and beyond, have suffered the ultimate grief, while their sons, daughters or family members gave us the ultimate sacrifice,” Capt. Roche said. “This marker now displayed here on the Veterans Promenade will remind passersby — including the visitors we receive annually from all 50 states, and over 100 countries — of these sacrifices. We hope it will cause them to pause, reflect and express some form of gratitude to you and your loved ones for all you have given us, and all you have endured.”

An invocation was led by Gold Star Mother Holly Baker of Springville, N.Y., the mother of U.S. Army Specialist Brain Baker (10th Mountain Division), who was killed in action in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ms. Baker is a former President of the American Gold Star Mothers South Buffalo Chapter No. 26.

Sandra Krege, Gold Star Mothers, South Buffalo, BNMP, Iraqi Freedom, Travis Krege

Sandra Krege, president of the American Gold Star Mothers South Buffalo Chapter No. 26, addressed those in attendance about the significance of the new addition of the Gold Star Memorial marker. Ms. Krege’s son, U.S. Army PFC Travis Krege, was killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006.

“It is certainly fitting that today, on Gold Star Mother’s Day, we unveil this Gold Star marker in recognition of your devoted presence in this community,” Naval Park Chairman Don Alessi added, addressing those mothers in attendance. “Yet, it is even more fitting that this ceremony follows the 75th anniversary of the death [during the sinking of the U.S.S. Juneau] of the five Sullivan brothers, for which our destroyer is named. While the Sullivans reunion committee paid tribute to the five brothers for their ultimate sacrifice, they did not forget Aletta Sullivan, perhaps the most well-known Gold Star Mother, for her enduring loss.”

Mr. Alessi also expressed his gratitude to the Bowmansville Garden Club for its generosity before introducing Sandra Krege, the current president of the American Gold Star Mothers South Buffalo Chapter No. 26. She lost her son, U.S. Army PFC Travis Krege, who was also killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006.

“This is not a club that anybody chooses to belong too,” Ms. Krege explained. “I hope, when people read this new marker, they understand what these families have gone through, and what they have sacrificed for us all. We lost our only son, our first born. His sibling lost her big brother. At every holiday, there is a hole at our table. There’s a birthday that we never get to celebrate. But a history unlearned is doomed to repeat itself, and there are many lessons to be learned here in this park. I really appreciate the significance of today. It’s very special and important to me.”

The ceremony concluded with the unveiling the new marker, the playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes, and several photos with the Gold Star Mothers, all dressed in white and gold, around the new memorial.

 

Buffalo Naval Park Hosts Veterans Tribute Awards Ceremony

Ceremony honors the late Col. Cunningham, Park Executive Director

BUFFALO, N.Y. Aug. 26, 2017 Colonel Patrick J. Cunningham spent 30 years in active military service with the U.S. Army. He went on to serve as Executive Director of the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park from 1993 until his death this past March. Today, he was honored at the Louis R. Palma Veterans Tribute Awards Ceremony, as the Park unveiled a new display that included the late colonel’s U.S. Army mess dress dinner jacket with medals, an array of photos and a special portrait.

Col. Cunningham grew up in Kenmore, N.Y., and returned to Buffalo in 1989 after retiring from the U.S. Army, with which he held a variety of high-profile command and staff positions, including 13 years at the Pentagon. As executive director of the Naval Park, he spent the final 24 years of life dedicated to celebrating Western New York’s veterans, creating the nation’s largest inland naval park, and launching Buffalo’s initial Canalside waterfront attraction.

“Colonel Patrick J. Cunningham was a pillar of leadership, professionalism and team building on the Buffalo waterfront for over two decades,” said Captain Brian Roche, who was named the park’s Executive Director following the colonel’s passing. “The Naval Park’s Board of Directors and staff have dedicated this year to remembering Col. Cunningham, to formally recognize him for all that he did for the park and the Western New York Community.”

He always viewed the park as “a symbol of the region’s patriotism, dedication and sacrifice,” he once said. His dedication to it was so great that he personally funded the park, including its payroll, during its leanest times, without ever saying a word or expecting to be repaid.

“No one was more dedicated to preserving, maintaining, and promoting the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park than Col. Patrick Cunningham,” added Naval Park Board Chairman Don Alessi. “Without him the Park would not have the physical or historic presence that it enjoys today. He was truly the heart and soul of the operation and we were all honored to have served with him.”

The ceremony was attend by many members of the Colonel’s family, including his brother, Bishop Robert J. Cunningham of the Diocese of Syracuse, who delivered the invocation, and his daughter, Colleen Burns, who delivered the eulogy. It also featured Master of Ceremony Domenic Cortese, a radio host with WBEN-AM, presentation of colors by park docents, and music from The Friends of Harmony.

The exhibit that was unveiled during today’s ceremony honoring Col. Cunningham will be in the Hangar Building for the remainder of the season, and then moved up to the USS Little Rock’s Chief of Staff office for permanent display.

ABOUT THE LOUIS R. PALMER TRIBUTE AWARD

A veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, Louis R. Palma, began active duty at the age of 15 as a Navy Air Crewman in the South Pacific during WWII. He served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1952, and joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 1953, where he served on special assignments as a flight engineer in Vietnam. In between those calls to duty, Mr. Palma obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Canisius College in 1955. Although he eventually retired from the reserves in 1988, Louis Palma returned to civilian life demonstrating many more years of exemplary service to the Western New York veteran community.

Most notably, it was primarily due to his leadership and commitment to the veterans and their families that the organizational structure and management of the veterans’ service division of Erie County was re-established, and state accreditation for the region was reclaimed. In 2000, at the age of 72, Mr. Palma worked to assist countless veterans and their families by accepting an appointment as Erie County director of veteran’s services, a post he held until 2009. He passed away just three years ago, in August 2014, at the age of 86. If it were not for the efforts of Palma, the veterans’ division would have remained ineligible for state certification.

In acknowledgement of his committed service, Palma received numerous medals such as the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal – with six battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. As such, it is with respect to the aforementioned-service and work history of Mr. Louis R. Palma that the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park honored Mr. Palma with this annual awards tribute distinction.