Albany - State Senator Michael Nozzolio has announced that the New York Senate has approved legislation he is sponsoring that would transfer land at the former Sampson Naval and Air Force Base to Seneca County. The land has been designated as the location of a world class Veterans Cemetery. Hundreds of thousands of brave men and women began their military service at the former Sampson Base during World War II.
“The Senate's approval of this legislation is a major step forward in making the dream of the Veterans Cemetery a reality,” said Senator Nozzolio. “I strongly urge the State Assembly to act quickly on this important legislation.”
Senator Nozzolio’s legislation must be approved by the Assembly and Governor Spitzer in order for this transaction to take effect. Assemblyman Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) is sponsoring the legislation in the Assembly.
Senator Nozzolio has committed over $500,000 in New York State funding in an effort to create a Veterans cemetery as the final resting place for our military heroes. The legislation approved by the Senate will allow Seneca County to take authority over land that has been designated for the Veterans cemetery.
“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 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.
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.
“I remain steadfast in my commitment to bring this cemetery to the former Sampson Naval and Air Force Base in Seneca County and is a fitting tribute to our veterans that this legislation was approved on the brink of Memorial Day,” Nozzolio concluded.