As the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Invasion approaches, we'd like to remind you of some local history and the impact that World War II had on Rockland County. The Camp Shanks Museum is now under the care of the Town of Orangetown. https://www.orangetown.com/document/camp-shanks-museum/
More than 25 years ago, with the help of then-New York State Senator Joseph Holland, Jerry Donnellan with New York Vets, as well as the Historical Society of Rockland County, created the Camp Shanks Museum on the grounds where Camp Shanks was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1942.
This link from History.com https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/d-day will reveal the course of the war after the troops left Camp Shanks for North Africa and the European Theatre of Operations in preparation for the D-Day Normandy Invasion.
Camp Shanks Museum and Wall of Honor
Camp Shanks Museum
The Camp Shanks Museum in Orangeburg, New York was dedicated on June 6th, 1994 to honor World War II veterans on the 50th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion – D-Day + 50. We are once again remembering the troops who came through Camp Shanks in preparation for the Normandy Invasion 75 years ago.
That weekend of celebrations in June of 1994 also included a dinner dance in a huge Army tent at Tappan Zee High School, with music of the 1940s played from a deuce and a half truck, and a buffet dinner complete with SPAM and SOS! Some of the World War II veterans were very proud that they could still fit into their uniforms! Of course, since Jerry was the prime mover in all of this, we had to have a fireworks display! And our local veterans 25 years ago staged a march to the end of the Piermont Pier as the soldiers had done 50 years previously, to board the vessels that would take them to North Africa and the ETO.
If you haven't been to the Museum lately, now is your opportunity. It is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. during June, July, and August. There is no admission fee. It would be a nice field trip for you and the kids or grandkids to view this piece of history so close to home.
Camp Shanks Wall of Honor The Camp Shanks Museum Wall of Honor lists the names of almost 1,000 veterans who passed through Camp Shanks on their way to Africa and the European Theatre of Operations. These names were sent in from veterans all over America, and from their grown children who wanted to honor their fathers. Many of the veterans or their families recalled stories and memories from the soldier’s stay at Camp Shanks 50 years earlier. In their letters, they told us about going to the big city of New York, and enjoying the entertainers who came to Camp Shanks. They mentioned how they spent their time waiting for the inevitable march to war, missing their wives or girlfriends back home, and talked about their buddies who didn’t make it home. This Wall of Honor is a tribute to all of those who served.
Camp Shanks, NY (1942–46) The sun now rises and sets on suburban tract houses and the only reveille sounds are those of mothers rousting the young from their beds for school. Long gone are the rectangular wooden barracks placed on stretches of macadam with the precision of an Army Corps of Engineers site plan. No longer heard are the footsteps of soldiers drilling or card-playing in the bunkhouse. Never to be felt again are the initials carved by soldiers in the recreation and orientation area benches in this "Last-Stop, U.S.A.," as Camp Shanks was called, especially by those who never returned from the European Theatre in World War II.
Camp Shanks, NY was the largest U.S. Army port of embarkation for the European Theatre of War from 1942 until the end of hostilities. Overnight, 2,040 country acres – mostly farmland – in Orangetown, Rockland County, (18 miles north of New York City) were transformed by 17,000 workers into a city for 50,000 service people.
About 1.3 million troops passed through Camp Shanks enroute to North Africa and then England to await the Normandy landings in June 1944. The camp was also used to house 290,000 German and Italian prisoners of war, and camp records show that 533,869 persons were debarked at Shanks on returning to the United States.
Some of those soldiers would live again at the camp from 1946 until 1956, when it was renamed Shanks Village and became a residential civilian housing project for students under the G.I. Bill. Many of the GIs who came through Camp Shanks or lived at Shanks Village, would later choose Rockland County as the place where they would settle down, marry their sweethearts, and raise their children.
The Camp Shanks Story... [RockVets Newsletter - June 2012]
In the autumn of 1942, Western Highway in Orangeburg looked like it had for many years past. Dotted with aging farmhouses, the old road made its way through corn and tomato fields. At night, people whose families had lived there for generations were lulled to sleep by the incessant chirping of crickets. Only the radio told of world-wide war elsewhere.
Then one day in September, a U.S. Army trailer pulled up near the Orangeburg Post Office. Major Drew Eberson of the Army Corps of Engineers arrived, and surveys began. Eberson liked what he saw: mostly all farmland, Route 303 connecting easily with Route 9W, quick access to the Hudson River by the Piermont Pier, and most importantly, two railroads serving the area. It was only 15 miles to the shipping docks at Hoboken. This was perfect.
On September 25th, 1942, Eberson summoned over 100 property owners from Blauvelt Road to Washington Street two-and-a-half miles south of Tappan, to tell them they had two weeks to get out of their homes. The Army was seizing their land under the War Powers Act. They would be paid for their property with first option to buy it back after the war. The 2,040 acres would be made into a U.S. Army New York Port of Embarkation Center through which ready-trained troops would be processed to North Africa and later England. The Camp would be named after Major General David Shanks, Commander of the New York Port of Embarkation during World War I.
By mid-October, the land was a major construction site. Some 17,000 workers hired by the Army from the nearby metropolitan area were converting the old farmlands into a city for 50,000 people. Work went on non-stop as bulldozers cleared the land, sewers were installed and roads were built through the mud-fields. Over 1,500 barracks were constructed as well as mess halls, theaters, service clubs, central latrines, gymnasiums, and office buildings. Some of the old smaller houses were left standing to serve as Officer quarters.
Camp Shanks officially opened on January 4, 1943. Troops from across the nation began arriving by train around the clock to be processed onto ships that would carry them across the Atlantic to fighting fronts. A permanent staff of 5,000 Officers, men, and women (400 members of the Women’s Army Corps, or WACS) was needed to operate the post 24 hours a day, supported by 1,500 civilians who worked a 48-hour, six day week for an average monthly wage of $250.00.
Camp Shanks, along with Camp Kilmer in New Jersey (which opened in 1942,) was the largest Army port of embarkation on the East Coast and became known as “Last Stop-USA.” Together, they sent over three million troops overseas. Shanks alone handled more than 1.3 million from 1943 into the Spring of 1945. The Camp’s busiest month came in October 1944, when 27,626 troops (roughly two Divisions,) were processed in one 19-hour period.
Combat-ready soldiers were brought to the Camp on long trains pulled by steam locomotives on the Erie and New York Central railroads. They were assigned to barracks, had their equipment checked and their medical and personnel records examined and put in order. Once through the paperwork, they were on standby until space became available on ships anywhere in the New York area.
When they got the word, they were taken by train or ferry to ports at Hoboken or on Manhattan’s West Side. Later in the war, they would board ships directly from the Piermont Pier. Some were fortunate enough to travel on either the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth. Too fast for German U-boats, these ocean liners crossed the ocean without escort.
Years later, one former WAC remembered shivering in her overcoat and pajamas as she stood by her barracks in the cold night and watched a Company of troops marching to the loading area on the East Side of Western Highway. They were singing, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” as they headed for the trains and the European battlefront.
Shot Down Over France
Shot Down Over France - Official Blog of Fold3.com
May 14, 2019 by Jenny Ashcraft
On May 29, 1943, 1st Lt. Theodore “Ted” Melvin Peterson was shot down near St. Quay-Portrieux in German-occupied France. He was rescued by brave villagers and the French resistance, spent two months making his way across France, and then hiked 11 days over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain and freedom. In a remarkable twist of fate, Peterson and his rescuers would meet again in an emotional reunion 33 years later.
A member of the 8th Army Air Corps, 379th Bomb Group and 526th Bomb Squadron, Peterson was based out of Kimbolton Airbase near London. On the afternoon of May 29th, Peterson and his crew received mission orders. They were to fly their B-17 “Flying Fortress” and bomb the submarine pens at St. Nazaire. As they approached the French coastline, a volley of German anti-aircraft fire riddled Peterson’s plane, blowing a large hole in the wing. Several engines caught fire and they were losing altitude. Peterson ordered everyone to bail out.
As captain, Peterson was the last man out, and just 1,000 feet off the ground when he donned a parachute and jumped. “The ride to the ground took about 30 seconds. I landed by a small tree in an open field. I quickly pulled out my pocket knife and cut the shroud line. One of the procedures in attempting to escape from enemy territory is to destroy the evidence that you have landed,” said Peterson. The plane crashed into the bay moments after Peterson bailed out.
The Germans saw Peterson’s chute descending and were speeding towards his position when villagers quickly came to his rescue. They escorted him to a quiet, wooded ravine. “I had a few moments to contemplate my position. I remember being alone on my knees thanking my Father in Heaven for my life being spared,” he said. Villagers brought him a change of clothes and guided him to the center of a tall wheat field where they directed him to lie down and hide.
As darkness fell, Peterson heard the snapping twigs of someone approaching. To his surprise, a small boy about 2-years-old emerged from the wheat. He presented Peterson with a gift – a rose and a handkerchief. To the French, Peterson was a hero. The boy snuggled up next to Peterson and fell asleep.
Over the next two months, with the aid of the French underground, Peterson made his way to Paris and across France. By August, he arrived at the foothills of the Pyrenees. For 11 days, often without food or water, he was guided over the snow-packed mountains. Finally, on August 16, 1943, he made his way to Barcelona and hitched a ride on a Royal Air Force plane back to England. Peterson had become the 69th Allied aviator to escape occupied France.
The passing of time and the trauma of war dimmed some of Peterson’s memories. He’d returned home with the rose and the handkerchief as mementos from the war and kept them carefully stored, but had forgotten where he received them. In 1976, Peterson and his family returned to St. Quay-Portrieux. With the help of local people familiar with the Resistance, Peterson attempted to identify significant landmarks, specifically the field where he landed. Finally, at a loss, the Petersons’ pulled their car to the side of the road and got out to reevaluate. They hailed a passing truck to ask for assistance. The driver got out of the truck and immediately threw his arms around Ted in recognition, despite the many years. He said, “Do you remember my little brother, Gilbert? He came out to visit you in the field the day you were shot down. He fell asleep next to you and we searched frantically for him all night long! Did you get the rose and handkerchief my mother sent for you?” A sudden spark of memory flooded over Peterson as he remembered the boy presenting him with the gift. The two men embraced with tears streaming down both of their cheeks.
As a tribute to young aviators like Peterson, the village of St. Quay-Portrieux salvaged the propeller of Peterson’s plane from the ocean floor and restored it to stand as a monument to Peterson and others who came to save France.
May 31, 2019 by Jenny Ashcraft
June 6, 2019, marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Codenamed Operation Overlord, D-Day was one of the largest military invasions by air, land, and sea in the history of warfare. It involved 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and more than 155,000 Allied forces who landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of German-occupied France. More than 4,000 Allied soldiers died on the day of the invasion. The bold operation resulted in the liberation of France by late summer and a complete victory by Allied forces the following year.
Of the 16 million Americans who served during WWII, the US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that less than 400,000 are still living, with 348 veterans dying each day.
To honor the service and sacrifice of those veterans, Fold3 is teaming up with Newspapers.com to allow free access to their newspaper archives from June 6-9. Search for your ancestor’s military records on Fold3, then search for their story on Newspapers.com! There are remarkable D-Day stories like that of Navy Seaman Carl Arnold Boedecker.
Boedecker served aboard the destroyer USS Rich when it struck a mine and sunk in the ice-cold English Channel during the Normandy invasion. For 24 hours, Boedecker stayed afloat until a passing LST fished him out of the water during a recovery mission. A naval chaplain administered Boedecker his last rites when he noticed he was still breathing. He was transported to an English hospital where doctors amputated his frozen leg and set his shattered jaw. Later he was transferred to Chelsea Naval Hospital in Boston where doctors determined his second foot also required amputation.
Boedecker’s father, Alfred G. Boedecker, was determined to find the medical corpsman who saved his son’s life. All he knew was that he was from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Alfred Boedecker contacted the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and with the help of newspapers and publicity, discovered that Ray L. Tinkel provided the aid that saved his son.
Doctors treated Carl Boedecker at naval hospitals and fitted him with prosthetic limbs. After being discharged, Carl worked as a journalist and later owned and operated a book store. He passed away in 2016.
Fox News, June 2, 2019
DOVER, England – About 300 veterans of the Normandy invasion have left Dover for a six-day trip that will take them back to the landing beaches on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
The cruise will take the veterans to Dunkirk and Poole before arriving in Portsmouth, where British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump will join other world leaders for a commemoration of D-Day.
The events of June 6, 1944, when more than 10,000 Allied servicemen were killed or wounded, still mark the lives of the men who fought that day.
The emotions are even more pronounced this year, as the dwindling cadre of D-Day veterans prepare to honor their lost comrades in what may be the last major commemoration that involves significant numbers of those who participated in the invasion.11:30 p.m. Wednesday night. To read further:
By MIKE KORDENBROCK | Billings Gazette, Mont. | Published: June 1, 2019
(Tribune News Service) — Jeff Ferguson wants local veterans to be proactive in seeking help for themselves and for future generations whose lives could be affected by exposure to Agent Orange and burn pits.
That's why he's hosting a town hall meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Petro Hall at Montana State University Billings. Other organizations involved with the town hall event include Vietnam Veterans of America and the MSUB Military and Veterans Success Center.
"There's a lot of medical problems going on from generation to generation, so we're encouraging all the dependents and veterans to come on out and hear all the effects that are happening," Ferguson said. "There's a lot of stuff out there that was totally unsafe for soldiers and it's affecting more than just the soldiers. It's being carried down the line."
Ferguson is the chapter commander for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 46-3. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, military operations that were part of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that began in 2003 and 2001.
We [the VA] are the world's leading research and educational center of excellence on PTSD and traumatic stress.
PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It's normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. If symptoms last more than a few months, it may be PTSD. The good news is that there are effective treatments.
There are currently about 8 million people in the United States living with PTSD, so you may know someone in your life who is impacted.
Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don’t get the help they need.
Russian Submarines Growing Concern for U.S.
By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES
Published: May 31, 2019
NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. — Lurking beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean is a threat that has not been the focus for national security strategists in the United States since the end of the Cold War: Russian submarines.
The vessels are quiet, hard to detect, and an asset in which the Russian military has continued to invest. During the last several years, Russia has sent submarines farther into the North Atlantic and Mediterranean and Black seas. They are a growing concern for the United States as Russia attempts to stretch its power and influence around the world.
The U.S. Navy’s answer to the increased maritime competition with Russia is the re-establishment of its 2nd Fleet, which declared initial operational capability this week, meaning it can start commanding and controlling forces in the Atlantic Ocean.
The U.S. military has pivoted in the last two years from focusing on a counterterrorism to what the Pentagon calls “great-power competition” with several nations. The biggest challengers to the United States are the Russians and Chinese. With Russia’s increasingly aggressive posturing, the feeling in the U.S. military has been to meet this new challenge with a mindset similar to its Cold War stance when the two nations went head to head around the world.
Here is some information on the HANDCYCLE PROGRAM from Roy Tsudy of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #333: Since 2013, VVA Chapter 333 has created their Handcycle Program. Roy, along with fellow chapter Vietnam veteran Marcus Arroyo and others (via fund raising along with donations) have purchased and donated 13 of these cycles to military veterans with leg amputations and / or spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, due to strict adherence to HIPPA law, they cannot easily locate veterans who can benefit from having one of the hand cycles. They find the candidates via extensive research or word of mouth.
With that in mind, if you know of any veteran with combat related injuries who would like to own a Handcycle free of charge, please contact Roy Tschudy -- e-mail: email@example.com so a proper vetting process can begin by both Marcus and Roy.
Roy Tschudy and Marcus Arroyo have recently identified another veteran in need. They have presented a mountain bike to an Army Combat veteran. The veteran was injured during his tour of duty in Iraq. He has a wife and a daughter and lives in the Hudson Valley.
Because of the efforts of many Chapter 333 members who contribute their time for fundraising events at street fairs, Palisades Center mall events and so on, Roy and Marcus are truly humbled to have the opportunity to assist a "brother" in need!
Roy Tschudy, Vietnam veteran and Co-Chair of the Handcycle Program, has written a book about Vietnam titled: "ENDLESS." All proceeds of the sale of Roy's book will be donated to the Hand-Cycle Program.
"ENDLESS" is available in paperback or e-book form and can be purchased on Amazon.com at this link:
or simply type in BOOKS and then enter the name: ROY TSCHUDY. "ENDLESS" will appear and the purchase can then be made.
USIS-US Information Systems, Pearl River, New York has numerous jobs available and we appreciate their reaching out to our veterans. USIS is located at 35 West Jefferson Avenue, Pearl River, NY10965. Their website is: http://www.usis.net/. If interested in any of these positions, please send an updated resume to: Anjelica Pagnozzi - Recruitment@usis.net (845) 353-9248. Please submit resumes and questions to Anjelica Pagnozzi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Creative Design Construction:Nicole@creativedesignconstruction.com - Creative Design Construction, 204 Livingston Street in Northvale, New Jersey 07647, works all over the Rockland/Bergen County area, are currently looking to expand production teams and are interested in candidates that are willing to learn or have experience in construction. We thought this might be a great opportunity for veterans that are returning from service. We sincerely appreciate their service and would love to give them the opportunity for full-time employment. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Nicole at 201-768-5813. View their website here: https://creativedesignconstruction.com/
Montefiore-Nyack Hospital, Nyack, New York 10960
See link for full listing and information about career opportunities at Nyack Hospital, Nyack, New York.
Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern, New York. Good Samaritan Hospital is affiliated with Westchester Medical Center. See this link for available employment - https://wmchealthjobs.org/search-jobs/
NYC Green Book Online: The Green Book is the official directory of the City of New York. An indispensable reference guide for anyone living or working with New York City. Includes detailed listings of agencies. Website:http://a856-gbol.nyc.gov/GBOLWebsite/
For your information, here are the addresses for some of our local veterans' organizations:
Rockland County Marine Corps League, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
Vietnam Veterans of America, P.O. Box 243, New City, New York 10956
Nam Knights, 1 Western Highway, Tappan, New York 10983
Korean War Veterans, P.O. Box 304, New City, New York 10956
R.C. Military Order of the Purple Heart, 20 Station Road, Pomona, New York 10970
Jewish War Veterans, P.O. Box 38, New City, New York 10956
Veterans of Foreign Wars, P.O. Box 921, New City, New York 10956
Air Force Association, Chapter 251, 207 Treetop Circle, Nanuet, New York 10954
Rockland County American Legion, 86 South Reld Drive, Pearl River, New York 10965
Combat Vet ID Cards Available Combat Veteran ID Cards are available. If you are a combat veteran, you can get this card at the County Clerk's Office which is located at 1 South Main Street, Suite 100, New City, New York 10956. To apply for the Combat Veteran ID Card, or the F.A.V.O.R. card for all veterans, if you don't already have one, bring your DD214 to the County Clerk's Office. They'll take your photo and make up a card for you.
For further information, contact the Rockland County Clerk's Office at (845) 638-5076.
This new Combat Veteran ID Card offers all of the same benefits as the F.A.V.O.R. (Find and Assist Veterans of Record) card, which includes almost 1000 discounts to Rockland's veterans, but this new CVID card has specific advantages. The CVID card is co-sponsored by the Rockland County Police Benevolent Association and will be recognized by our local law enforcement agencies. So if you ever get pulled over, along with your license, registration, and insurance card, show the police officer your Combat Vet ID card so he knows you're an in-country vet.
Useful Telephone Numbers for Veterans
Rockland County Veterans Service Agency
Rockland County Sheriff’s Office
Veterans Peer-to-Peer (Counseling)
People to People (Food)
Montrose VA Hospital
New City VA Clinic
Rape Crisis Services (Main)
Rape Crisis Services (24/7)
Home Health Care
Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency
Nyack Hospital Emergency
Mental Health Association of Rockland County
Mobile Mental Health
West Point (nearest military base)
New York National Guard (Orangeburg, NY)
Army Reserve (Orangeburg, NY)
Rockland County Housing Action Coalition
Meals on Wheels
Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary
The Rockland County Marine Corps League Auxiliary continues its on-going campaign - Pet Rescue - to reunite our troops with pets they may have had to leave in Afghanistan. Cans and bottles (no glass bottles) that can be recycled for cash, may be brought to Kearsing Edwards American Legion Post 1600, 20 Station Road in Pomona, New York. They are collected by ARC Pet Rescue volunteers and recycled. Contributions for the Pet Rescue Project are also welcome! The funds pay for food and water to sustain pets on their journey home; their transportation is free. For more information contact Chairman Dale Fisher 845-304- 3595.
Rockland County Marine Corps League - MASH Unit
We regularly receive donations of handicap assistance equipment for disabled veterans from people who want to help. Our donated equipment is available for free to military veterans and their families. The items include the following:
If you have need of any of this equipment, contact the folks at the Rockland County Marine Corps League - 845-323-8774 or via e-mail: email@example.com.
RockVets Newsletter - A Project of New York Vets
RockVets is an Outreach project of New York Vets, Inc. - a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization established in 1992, to advocate for those who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Military, no matter where or when they served.
The volunteers at New York Vets / RockVets publish this monthly e-newsletter. We welcome your thoughts, questions, and feedback. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are not affiliated with Rockland County Government nor the Veterans Service Agency of Rockland.
At the discretion of the editor, we'd be happy to add your upcoming events to our newsletter. Please submit the details to us as soon as possible, but no later than the 25th of each month so we can get the information in the following issue. Send information to email@example.com.