Two local WWII submarine veterans honored; All veterans to receive free park admission throughout LCS-9 visit
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dec. 7, 2017 — The Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, together with the Erie County Veterans Service Office, honored two U.S. Navy veterans who served on submarines during World War II at today’s Pearl Harbor Day ceremony.
This annual event commemorates the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Navy fleet at the Hawaiian Naval Station of Pearl Harbor 76 years ago, an act that killed 2,403 American servicemen and drew the U.S. into World War II. The attack, which occurred without an official declaration of war from Japan, sank four U.S. battleships and damaged four others. The damaged also included three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Nearly 200 aircraft were destroyed as well, while close to 160 more were damaged, all of which led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to famously state that Dec. 7, 1941 is a date which would “live in infamy.”
“This has been a remarkable week for the armed forces in Buffalo, as we welcomed and are preparing for the commissioning of the new USS Little Rock LCS-9,” said Naval Park Executive Director Brian Roche, a retired Captain in the U.S. Coast Guard. “We are pleased to not only honor these two veterans today, but to also announce that all veterans are invited to visit the Naval Park for free until December 18 — throughout the visit of the new ship — to thank them for their service.”
The two veterans, members of the United States Submarine Veterans Inc. Buffalo Base, were joined by family, friends and base members. The parent organization formed in 1964 and has expanded across the nation to 165 “bases,” including Western New York’s, which comprises of over 100 members. The honorees were:
• Petty Offer 2nd Class Richard W. Bondi, a Radioman who served from 1943 to 1946. Bondi, qualified in 1943 on the USS O-2 SS 63 and then continued to serve on the USS Caiman SS 323, USS Raton SS 270, USS Boarfish SS 327 and USS Burrfish SS 312. He also severed on two submarine tenders, a ship that supplies and supports submarines, including the USS Griffin AS 13 and USS Anthedon AS 24.
• Chief Petty Officer Robert H. Stoll was an Engineman who served from 1943 to 1986. Stoll qualified on the USS Irex SS 482 as a Motor Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Petty Officer. He served on board the submarines, USS Clamagore SS 343, USS Tunny SS 282 and USS Tusk SS 426.
“It’s an honor to present Sub-Mariner veterans Richard W. Bondi RM2 (SS) and Robert H. Stoll ENC (SS) with certificates on behalf of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, thanking them for their service,” explained Erie County Director of Veteran Services David Shenk. “On Pearl Harbor Day and every day, Erie County treasures our veterans and thanks them for their service. The men and women who selflessly served our country and sacrificed for us deserve more thanks and gratitude than we can give, and today we pause to remember those who served 76 years ago today at Pearl Harbor.”
The ceremony began with the Presentation of Colors by the Western New York Maritime Charter School, a beautiful rendition of our national anthem by the City Honors Instrumental
Ensemble, led by Director Donna Kerr, and an Invocation and Benediction by Veterans of Foreign Wars, Erie County Chaplain David Willard. Additional comments were made by Park Board Chairman Don Alessi, and keynote remarks were given by Fire Control Chief Petty Officer Franco Montjoy on behalf of Commander Todd Peters, Commanding Officer of the USS Little Rock LCS-9, who served as honorary guest speaker.
“I am proud to say I have been a member of the Navy for the past 27 years, which is a short time considering its 242-year history,” said Commander Peters. “Saluting those who served before me is an honor, and I look forward, as does our crew, to carrying on the Navy’s mission to maintain, train and equip combat-ready forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining the freedom of the seas.”
The ceremony concluded with a memorial wreath placed by Petty Officers Dennis Staley and Larry Fuchs of the United States Submarine Veterans Inc. Buffalo Base; a gun salute from the American Legion Donovan Post 1626 Rifle Team; and the playing of Taps by Post 1626’s Laure Lombardo.