Today, Senator Rob Ortt (R,C,I,Ref-North Tonawanda) is proud to announce that his legislation renaming Lewiston’s Highway 104 has been signed into law by Gov. Cuomo. Sponsored by Senator Rob Ortt (S7827) and Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello (A10548), this bill sees that Highway 104 be renamed the “General William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan Memorial Highway.”
“General Donovan is one of the greatest military heroes our country has ever seen, and it is important that we have something that celebrates the contributions he made to our country,” said Ortt. “While many may not be aware of the extraordinary life this patriot lived, hopefully by renaming this highway, it will spark interest from others into learning who this man was, while also honoring his legacy.”
A Buffalo native and pre-law undergrad at Niagara University, William Donovan served his country on the front lines in France during World War I, earning the Croix de Guerre, which was a medal of France awarded to those who displayed deeds of extraordinary heroism. After the first great war, Donovan would go on to work in in the field of law while doubling as an intelligence gatherer for a U.S. government that was interested in monitoring the rise of communism in Europe. While back in Buffalo, Donovan would serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York.
In 1941 Donovan would become the Coordinator of Intelligence (COI) for the Office of Strategic Services (the first incarnation of the CIA). Assigned to the position by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Donovan would be instrumental in setting up the first formal U.S. government spy agency. Eventually, Donovan would become the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, serving as the eyes and ears for the U.S. in a part of the world that, at the time, was susceptible to a communist takeover.
In 1959, Donovan passed away at the age of 76. General William “Wild Bill” Donovan is the only American to ever be awarded our four highest military awards: the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Security Medal. Known as the Father of American Intelligence, Donovan is buried in Arlington Cemetery.