Free series to occur every Tuesday through Labor Day on the U.S.S. Little Rock fantail
BUFFALO, N.Y. – June 20, 2017 – Starting tonight, The Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park will feature free live music every Tuesday night through September 5 (excluding July 4) from 6 to 8 p.m. on the fantail of the U.S.S. Little Rock. The public is welcomed to join the festivities each week, including music from local artists or bands and an incomparable view of Buffalo’s beautiful waterfront. Food and beverage will be available for purchase. The line-up for the inaugural series is as followed:
- June 20: Jack Civiletto
- June 27: Robert Freight Train Parker
- July 11: Dark Horse Run
- July 18: Old School B Boys
- July 25: Joyce Wilson Nixon and Tom Lorentz
- August 1: Wendell Rivera and Wine Light
- August 8: Route Two 40 Ride
- August 15: Marsha McWilson
- August 29: The Buffalo Dolls and Richie & Debbie Derwald
- September 5: E life 7
Chairs will be available for guests. For safety purposes, personal chairs will not be permitted to be carried onboard. The event is rain or shine.
Naval squadron leader credited for turning the tide at the Battle of Midway — and WWII — 75 years ago
BUFFALO, N.Y. — June 4, 2017 — The Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park hosted a ceremony today to honor the legacy and memory of C. Wade McClusky, a South Buffalo native whose heroic actions have been widely attributed for leading to a decisive World War II victory during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942 — which many believe was the turning point in the war.
To mark the 75th anniversary of this event, the Buffalo Naval Park is installing a new sculpture and tribute plaque of McClusky, who rose to the rank of Rear Admiral (RADM) before retiring in 1956. He passed away 20 years later, in 1976, at the age of 74. A clay model of that sculpture, created by Youngstown, N.Y.-based artist Susan Geissler, was unveiled at the conclusion of the ceremony, which was highlighted with numerous guest speakers, including Lieutenant Commander George Walsh, (ret.), a living WWII Naval dive-bomber pilot and author of, “Battle of Midway: Searching for the Truth,” who traveled from Darien, Conn. — at age 96 — to be part of the celebration and to help put McClusky’s achievements in their proper context.
A graduate of South Park High School, then-Lieutenant Commander McClusky led his group’s dive-bombers at the Battle of Midway against superior Japanese naval forces. Running low on fuel, he risked going beyond the point of no return to locate the Japanese fleet. He found the enemy and directed dive-bomber attacks which destroyed two Japanese fleet carriers in minutes.
Upon returning to his fleet, he was attacked by Japanese fighter planes, which struck his plane with 55 bullets, which led to a serious wound to his left shoulder – a detail which is clearly represented in Ms. Geissler’s sculpture within McClusky’s flight jacket.
U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, 26th District, was also on hand to share his thoughts on McClusky’s heroism. He presented an official U.S. flag that had flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C., to Philip McClusky, RADM McClusky’s son, who made his very first visit to his father’s hometown. In turn, he surprised those in attendance by donating four of his father’s most prestigious war medals — the Navy Cross, Navy Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart — to the Naval Park to be added to its permanent collection.
Congressman Higgins, together with New York State Senator Chris Jacobs, 60th District, and Naval & Military Park volunteer Lee Simonson, both of whom also offered comments during the ceremony, collaborated with Buffalo Naval Park officials to bring this story and today’s event to fruition. Congressman Higgins’ office has worked to have more than 20 additional medals posthumously bestowed upon McClusky — the most his office has ever obtained for a single individual, he said.
Buffalo Naval Park honors memory of Lieutenant Commander Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. with dedication of new display, free admission to park
BUFFALO, N.Y. – May 11, 2017 – The Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park hosted an unveiling of a new display to honor the memory and naval career of Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.
LCDR Wilson, who left a gift to the Naval Park upon his passing in 2014, was a proud veteran who rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy and served as Commanding Officer of a World War II Minesweeper, the USS Picket, from March 1945 to January 1946.
The new display was unveiled during a ceremony in the Hangar Building, the future site of the Naval Park’s new Hall of Honor, currently in the design stages. The ceremony included a presentation of colors by the Maritime Charter School Honor Guard and a performance of the National Anthem by Buffalo Dolls Vocalist Donna Kerr
Also, a surprise announcement was made to the public and to Mrs. Mary Wilson, LCDR Wilson’s widow, that tomorrow — and the Friday of every annual Western New York Armed Forces Week thereafter — will now be known as “LCDR Ralph C. Wilson Day” at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park. On that day, admission will be free for all visitors, to honor his legacy.
“By creating this day, we hope to immortalize LCDR Wilson for generations to come, so that we will always remember how much he meant to and cared for Western New York,” said Captain Brian Roche, Executive Director of the Naval Park. “We are honored to display his personal military effects here at the park, and we thank his family for their generosity in sharing and entrusting these items to us.”
To commemorate the occasion, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown read a city proclamation. Proclamations were also delivered from the New York State Senate and Assembly via Senator Chris Jacobs’ office and Assemblywoman Monica Wallace’s office, respectively. Representatives from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were also on hand to mark the occasion, as were members of the park’s board of directors and staff.
“It is wonderful and heartwarming to see the support from our elected officials regarding this initiative,” added Naval Park Board Chairman Don Alessi. “They understand how great of an impact LCDR Wilson had on this community, and the pride he felt for his military and civic service.”
The Naval Park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the end of October. Its World War II era ships include the USS Little Rock — the only guided missile cruiser on display in the U.S. today; the USS The Sullivans, a destroyer named after five brothers who died when their ship sank during the Battle of the Solomon Islands; and the USS Croaker, a Gato-class submarine. A variety of military vehicles and aircraft are also on display, in addition to a museum building filled with artifacts, interactive exhibits and historical information spanning virtually all of our nation’s wars and military conflicts.
“The Impresario” by Mozart on board the USS Little Rock! Enjoy an evening on board the USS LITTLE ROCK at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park with the short hilarious opera “The Impresario” about the backstage difficulties of producing an opera! Bring a date or your family. Presented in English with English dialogue. Don’t miss this special evening at one of the most picturesque venues in WNY. Finger Foods and Cash Bar.
Buffalo Naval Park announces passing of Colonel Patrick J. Cunningham
Served as Executive Director since 1993; Captain Brian W. Roche named new director
Buffalo, N.Y. – March 24, 2017 – Colonel Patrick J. Cunningham, who spent 30 years in active military service with the U.S. Army, and served as Executive
Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park since 1993, has died. He would have been 79 on April 1.
Colonel Cunningham, who grew up in Kenmore, N.Y., returned to Buffalo in 1989 after retiring from the U.S. Army, with which he held a variety of sensitive and demanding command and staff positions, including 13 years at the Pentagon. His assignments there included handling the budget for all active duty and retired Army personnel, and coordinator of new and innovative projects for the Department of Army Inspector General. His Washington tours culminated in successive assignments as Executive Officer for the Director of the Army Budget, and subsequently, the Comptroller of the Army. His last five years of active duty were spent as Garrison Commander and Chief of Staff of Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. The Colonel’s military decorations include the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
“Colonel Cunningham will be remembered in Buffalo for his tireless efforts at building the Buffalo Naval Park into the wonderful education and historic attraction it is today,” said Naval Park Board Chairman Donald A. Alessi. “He was instrumental in moving the park from its former site underneath the Skyway to its beautiful current location. He spent a career in service and sacrifice to his country — and he continued that commitment throughout his retirement. His vision turned our Naval Park – which is today the largest inland Naval Park in the U.S. — into the crown jewel we have on our waterfront today.”
Colonel Cunningham’s passing comes, ironically, on the eve of the opening ceremony for the Naval Park’s 2017 season. The event, which will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the arrival of its first two ships, the USS Little Rock and USS The Sullivans, and posthumously honor the roles of three servicemen who were instrumental in the delivery of these ships to Buffalo’s Harbor, will now include a dedication of the 2017 season to the memory and spirit of Colonel Cunningham.
“Many years ago when the park was struggling financially, Colonel Cunningham used his own money to make ends meet — to literally keep us above water. And he did so without a word or expectation of thanks,” added Chairman Alessi. “Today, and for years to come, the greater Buffalo community and Western New York Veterans owe him a great deal of thanks and gratitude.”
Colonel Cunningham was a graduate of Canisius College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. He went on to earn an M.B.A. from Syracuse University in Comptrollership, in addition to completing U.S. Army Command and General Staff college.
In addition to the Naval Park, he served numerous organizations in many capacities, including past president of the Historic Naval Ships Association, Military Officers Association of Western New York, Navy League, and the New York State Council of Chapters, Military Officers Association of America. He also belonged to the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Legion, and Rotary Club of Buffalo. He also served as a game official for both High School basketball and football in Western New York.
He was pre-deceased by his wife of 53 years, Shelia, with whom he had five children.
The Buffalo Naval Park Board of Directors met Thursday evening and named Captain Brian W. Roche as its new Executive Director, naming Colonel Cunningham as Executive Director Emeritus in the process.
Captain Roche served for 36 years in the United States Coast Guard, rising through the ranks of Seaman Apprentice (E-2) to Captain (O-6). He is an accomplished leader and dynamic planner with unique team building skills and broad experience in fiscal management, operational execution, human resources and risk management. He came to Buffalo in 2013 as Chief Executive Officer/Sector Commander of the Coast Guard’s Sector Buffalo, were he managed 1,200 employees accomplishing missions across 540 miles of coastline, including 2,300 search and rescue efforts. He retired in 2016. His selection comes at the recommendation of Colonel Cunningham, whose declining health had been eminent.
Captain Roche most recently served as Vice President with Harkon, Inc., where he oversaw human resource doctrine development/review and international training program management. He resides in Clarence Center with his family.
To learn more about the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, including the Colonel Patrick J. Cunningham Legacy Society, visit www.buffalonavalpark.org or call (716) 847-1773.
ABOUT THE BUFFALO AND ERIE COUNTY NAVY AND MILITARY PARK
The Buffalo and Erie County Military and Naval Park takes you inside history with incredible exhibits and displays including actual historic documents, uniforms, military gear, photographs and so much more. Its mission is to honor veterans and inspire citizens. It fosters an appreciation of the U.S. Armed Forces in the community by promoting visits to the Park and taking part in activities related directly or indirectly to military affairs. It also promotes and fosters an interest in historic Armed Forces artifacts of our nation. For those interested in supporting the Naval Park by volunteering or making a gift, please call 716-847-1773 or visit www.buffalonavalpark.org/support-us.
Dedicated 2017 season ‘to the spirit and memory of Col. Patrick J. Cunningham;’ celebrated 40th anniversary of USS Little Rock and USS The Sullivans arrival
Buffalo, N.Y. – March 25, 2017 – The Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park kicked off its 2017 season this morning with an Opening Day Ceremony. The Naval Park, a defining component of Buffalo’s waterfront since 1979 and a key part of its recent resurgence, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the arrival of its first two ships, the USS Little Rock and USS The Sullivans, in 1977.
The ceremony began with a dedication of the 2017 season to the “spirit and memory of Col. Patrick J. Cunningham,” the Naval Park’s Executive Director since 1993, who passed away yesterday. Park officials also introduced their new Executive Director, Captain Brian W. Roche, a 36-year Coast Guard veteran who was appointed during its Thursday board meeting.
Officials also posthumously honored three servicemen who were instrumental in the delivery of the Little Rock and the Sullivans to Buffalo: Michael Bertini, Thomas Heilig and Leonard Sniadecki. Their families received Recognition Award Certificates from Naval Park Board Chairman Donald A. Alessi.
The ceremony included a ribbon-cutting ceremony by local dignitaries; the National Anthem performed by The Buffalo Dolls, the popular local swing-style vocal group; a brief history of the park; music by Union Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps, and representation from the Naval Park docents, U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps – The Sullivans Division, and the Greater Niagara Frontier Council Boy Scout Honor Guard.
“It is with very mixed emotions that we kick off our season today,” said Chairman Alessi. “We are excited to begin it by honoring the memories of these three fine servicemen, who played such pivotal roles in bringing us these two iconic vessels. We’re proud to continue to provide military and naval history right here on the Buffalo Waterfront. It is going to be a great season.”
However, attendees were saddened by the loss of Colonel Cunningham, who will be remembered for his tireless efforts at building the park into the wonderful attraction it is today.
“Colonel Cunningham was instrumental in moving the park from its former site underneath the Skyway to this beautiful location we enjoy today,” Chairman Alessi continued. “He spent a career in service and sacrifice to his country — and he continued that commitment throughout his retirement. His vision turned our Naval Park — the largest inland park in the U.S. — into the crown jewel we enjoy on our waterfront today.”
In addition, attendees were excited to meet and hear from Captain Roche, who Colonel Cunningham fully endorsed as his successor.
“Captain Roche served for 36 years in the U.S. Coast Guard,” Chairman Alessi concluded. “He is an accomplished leader and dynamic planner with broad experience in fiscal management, operational execution, human resources and risk management. He has been in Buffalo since 2013, so he’s no stranger to Western New York. He has a strong vision for our Naval Park, and we’re excited to support him in making this resource even more valuable to our veterans and our community.”
“It is truly an honor to be appointed as the Executive Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park,” said Captain Roche. “The Naval Park is one of Buffalo’s true, unique treasures that the park staff and I feel privileged to be a part of. The Park has new exhibits to see and more to come in the future, and I hope every family takes a trip to Canalside to experience our park this year.”
The Naval Park has many large-scale events happening this season including its annual Party in the Park fundraiser on Aug. 22. This popular event is hosted right on the deck of the USS Little Rock and raises money to support all aspects of the Park, which receives less than three percent of its funding from government entities. Then, in late September, Buffalo hopes to be the site of a national first when it welcomes the newly constructed USS Little Rock LCS-9, which is tentatively scheduled to be officially commissioned into service. This would be the first time in U.S. Navy history that a new ship is commissioned alongside her original namesake.
The Buffalo Naval & Military Park will be opening earlier this year to accommodate the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament crowd. Our hours for the month of March are:
Thursday, March 16, 2017 – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Friday, March 17, 2017 – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday, March 18, 2017 – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
The official opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony is still set for March 25th at 10:00 AM. We are excited to kick off the season and hope to see you soon!
Source: The Buffalo News
By: Patrick Cunningham and Donald Alessi
Date: January 13, 2017
For over three decades, the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park sat as downtown’s lone waterfront attraction. Now Buffalo’s waterfront is the place to be, year-round.
Buffalo boasts the world’s largest inland naval park. In addition to our three major ships, there are 13 memorials, tanks, planes and helicopters, and our Wall of Honor. Our museum contains exhibits from World War II, the Civil War, the War of 1812 – and soon, World War I – all honoring our veterans’ sacrifices.
Since opening in 1979, the park has hosted over 1,000 reunions, corporate/private parties, veterans’ honor ceremonies and U.S. citizenship ceremonies. Over 75,000 Scouts/Sea Cadets have slept aboard our ships, and our Memorial Walk of Heroes and Promenade attracts over a million annual visitors.
Source: WBFO 88.7
By: Michael Mroziak
Date: June 25, 2016
They came from more than two dozen nations around the world. Following a Thursday morning ceremony at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park, 53 people are now officially citizens of the United States of America.