Nozzolio: Veterans Cemetery Project Moving Forward

Michael F. Nozzolio

November 08, 2007

Albany – In anticipation of Veterans Day, State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio announced that the project to establish the Sampson Veterans Cemetery at the former Sampson Naval and Air Force Base in Seneca County is proceeding and is awaiting final approval by the Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

“The establishment of the Sampson Veterans Cemetery is nearing the final stages of approval at the local level,” said Senator Michael Nozzolio. “With the adoption of my legislation to transfer the land to Seneca County, along with $500,000 in state funding that I have been able to secure, we will be able to establish a cemetery that will be a lasting tribute to the brave veterans that gave so much for our country.”

In July, legislation sponsored by Senator Nozzolio was signed into New York State law authorizing the transfer of land at Sampson State Park to Seneca County to be used as the grounds of the cemetery. The final action needed to transfer the property is the adoption of a resolution by the Seneca County Board of Supervisors authorizing receipt of the land from New York State.

Senator Nozzolio has secured $500,000 for the project, which will be made available as soon as final approval from Seneca County is received. Once approved by the county, a not-for-profit organization to be determined will operate the Veterans cemetery.

Senator Nozzolio also announced that he has reached an agreement with the New York State Department of Correctional Services whereby inmates at the Willard Drug Treatment Center, located in Romulus, will provide maintenance and operations of the Sampson Veterans Cemetery when it is completed.

“After describing this project with him, Commissioner Brian Fischer of the State Department of Correctional Services agreed to allow inmates at Willard to mow the lawns and maintain the property of the Veterans Cemetery. This will allow the Veterans Cemetery to be properly maintained without expense to local taxpayers,” said Nozzolio.

Commissioner Brian Fischer of the New York State Department of Correctional Services said, "I am pleased that the inmates at the Willard Drug Treatment Center will have the opportunity to maintain the Sampson Veterans Cemetery, thereby giving back something to society. For the Department of Correctional
Services to partner with Senator Nozzolio on such a noble undertaking is a
win-win situation for everyone."

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.

All honorably discharged veterans and their spouses 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.