Thousands gather on WWII ship to honor veterans in New York City
November 14, 2010
As veterans around the country were being honored for their commitment to the safety of the nation, the commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command addressed visitors at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York during its annual Veterans Day ceremony, Nov. 11.
Brig. Gen. William D. Razz Waff, commanding general of the 99th RSC, spoke first to a group of Intrepid member veterans, including former crew members of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid.
Opened in 1982, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is centered on the aircraft carrier Intrepid (CVS-11), now a national historic landmark. The Intrepid was commissioned in 1943 and served in World War II. It went on to serve as one of the primary recovery vessels for NASA, three tours of duty off Vietnam, and submarine surveillance in the North Atlantic during the Cold War. It was retired in 1974.
Waff praised the former crewmembers for their service and expressed what an honor it was to speak before them on Veterans Day.
"To be here in your midst today is just wonderful," said Waff. "You stood at the cusp of when civilization could have ended. It is on your shoulders that our current servicemembers stand."
Waff also lauded the efforts of the museum's staff in their mission to educate New York while continually finding new ways to support veterans of all services.
Annually, more than 915,000 people visit the museum.
"This institution's education mission for the school-aged children of New York is unparalleled," he said. "Please continue to reach out and educate."
Other speakers included Ray Stone, who served aboard the Intrepid as a radarman from 1943-1945, and Gerry Byrne, Intrepid trustee and Vietnam veteran of the Marine Corps.
Following a short tour of the museum's displays, Waff made his way to the flight deck and addressed a crowd of more than 200 visitors who had come out to pay tribute to our nation's heroes past and present.
Coast Guard Chaplain Lt. David Rozanek provided an invocation followed by the posting of the colors by a Color Guard from the Naval Operations Center from Bronx, NY. Sgt. Veronica Gonzales, a vocalist with the 319th Army Band, 99th RSC, Fort Totten, NY sang the National Anthem.
Waff then thanked veterans in attendance, as well as their families, for their sacrifices to the nation, and challenged them to help to continue the military's long history of exceptional servicemembers. He asked them to connect with other veterans and to inspire other citizens to join the armed forces.
"Our military's technology far outpaces what we thought possible even five years ago, so we need to continue to attract the best and the brightest," said Waff. "The sacrifices you've made throughout the history of the republic are phenomenal. We need you to share that with today's youth."
In remembrance of those veterans who had made the ultimate sacrifice to the nation, Waff was joined by Stone to lay a memorial wreath in the Hudson River.