Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the location where hundreds of thousands of brave men and women began their military service, State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (R-Fayette) today announced he has taken action to create a world class Veterans Cemetery at the former Sampson Naval and Air Force Base.

Senator Nozzolio has committed over $500,000 in New York State funding to create a Veterans cemetery as the final resting place for veterans, and has drafted legislation that transfers over 450 acres of surplus New York State property back to Seneca County, of which 350 acres will go back on the tax rolls. Approximately 100 acres will be set aside for the establishment of the Veterans Cemetery that will be open to all military veterans throughout the United States.

“Throughout our nation’s history, veterans have made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our democracy, said Senator Nozzolio. “In fighting for freedom and peace, our veterans secured America’s greatness, a greatness that prevails today because of all our veterans’ tremendous collective sacrifice. America’s veterans are our true heroes, and this cemetery will be a lasting tribute and place of honor where they will be appropriately remembered.”

“The Finger Lakes region is home to a remarkable and unique military history, added Senator Nozzolio. “The Sampson site is a place of hallowed ground, where over three quarters of a million Americans were trained to defend and preserve our freedom. These Americans trained at Sampson to serve America and the country they loved. Just a few miles from Sampson is Waterloo, the nationally recognized birthplace of Memorial Day.

The historical significance of Sampson, coupled with our region’s military history and home to the birthplace of Memorial Day, makes this area a fitting site for a veterans’ cemetery. Our efforts to create this veterans’ cemetery take on even more significance as our troops overseas continue to put themselves in harm’s way to defend America and its liberty.”

The site of the proposed cemetery, the Sampson United States Naval and Air Force Base, served as a naval training station during World War II and was later used as an Air Force Basic Training Center. Constructed in 1942, Sampson trained over 400,000 naval recruits during its years of operation. Sailors trained at Sampson fought and participated in every major battle of World War II. During the Korean War the property was converted to the Sampson Air Force Base and over 300,000 airmen received their basic training there from 1950 until 1956. The Sampson Memorial Naval Museum and Air Force Museum are currently located at the site.

Creation of a veterans cemetery on the former Sampson Naval and Air Force base has been one of the highest legislative priorities for many veterans’ groups throughout New York State. Over the years, New York State Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, Korean Vets, New York State Council of Veterans Organizations, the Sampson WW-2 Navy Veterans and Sampson Air Force Veterans have all advocated on behalf of the development of a cemetery at Sampson.

“I applaud Senator Nozzolio’s efforts and long-term commitment on behalf of our veterans”, said Assemblyman Brian Kolb. “This cemetery would be a wonderful tribute to the millions of veterans who have served our great country throughout its history, and I will do all possible to ensure that the appropriate legislation is enacted.”

Stephen Bull, President of the Sampson WW-2 Navy Veterans said “Establishing a veterans cemetery in our region is something we Sampson veterans have been advocating for many, many years. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and commitment of Senator Nozzolio, we will now have a veterans cemetery to honor our members. This is great news for the several hundred thousand veterans living in the Finger Lakes region.”

Jim Dockstader, President of Air Force Veterans said “The Sampson site brings back a lot of fond memories for me and thousands of other veterans. I am extremely excited with Senator Nozzolio’s efforts to establish a veterans cemetery at a place where many of us in the military grew up and became men.”

Bob Shipley, Chairman of the Seneca Board of Supervisors said “I appreciate Senator Nozzolio’s efforts in making this great project become a reality and commend the tremendous leadership he has shown in recognizing veterans across the nation. Seneca County will do all possible to assist this great effort and look
forward to the further economic development the cemetery will bring to the county.”

Senator Nozzolio has been working with the Town of Romulus and the New York State Department of Corrections to coordinate various administrative services as well as general maintenance and grounds-keeping for the proposed cemetery. Additionally, Hillside Children Center’s horticulture program, located in Romulus, will aid with the landscape development of the property.

David Kaiser, Town of Romulus Supervisor said “I very much support Senator Nozzolio’s vision for a veterans cemetery and feel that the former Sampson Naval Base would make an excellent home. The Town of Romulus has a history of service to the community and fully intends to be a participant in this exciting project.”

Ken Lewter, Resident Services leader at Hillside Children Center said “I am excited for the opportunity this presents for our horticulture program at Hillside. We have a strong record of community service and welcome the chance to participate in such a worthwhile endeavor.”

All honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and dependent children will be eligible for burial at the proposed cemetery. The guidelines for the cemetery will be based on federal veteran cemetery standards. This will include opening and closing of the graves, perpetual upkeep and maintenance, government headstone or marker, burial flag and presidential certificate.

A Governing Board will be established at a later date to create the design of the cemetery in conjunction with the current infrastructure at the Sampson Site. All veterans across the state and nation who are interested in providing input and want more information are encouraged to contact Senator Nozzolio’s office for more details. Senator Nozzolio can be reached toll free at 1-888-568-9816 or by visiting his website at

The Sampson Naval base was named in honor of a local native, Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, from Palmyra, NY, a hero of the Battle of Santiago during the Spanish-American War.

Assemblyman Gary Finch said “I have long been supportive of establishing a veterans cemetery in our region. I look forward to working with Senator Nozzolio and Assemblyman Kolb to achieve this objective.”

Senator Nozzolio and Assemblyman Kolb will jointly sponsor the legislation to transfer the Sampson property from New York State to the Veterans Cemetery and Seneca County.