The Rome Historical Society is looking for community members willing to share their memories of Griffiss Air Force Base in a video interview.
Constructed in 1941-42 under the supervision of future Manhattan Project engineer Kenneth Nichols. It was finally named in 1948 to honor Buffalo native and 1922 West Point graduate Lt. Col. Townsend Griffiss (1900–1942). Griffiss was the first U.S. airman killed on duty in Europe during the Second World War. His B-24 Liberator bomber was shot down by friendly fire over the English Channel.
The base has been home to fighters, bombers and aerial refueling operations. In 1984 the site was added to the National Priorities List after hazardous chemicals were found in soil and ground water. Solvents, lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) had been disposed in landfills and dry wells.
The base closed 26 years ago in 1995 and is now home to is now Griffiss International Airport, owned by Oneida County, along with a business and technology park. The Air Force Research Laboratory retains a presence there, along with NORAD’s Eastern Air Defense Sector, operated by New York Air National Guard.
Griffiss has been in the news lately with the release of the 2021 documentary Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage. The base was the site of Woodstock 99 which became notorious for overpricing, triple-digit heat, aggressive music, and lack of water after it descended into a riot.
Rome Historical Society is looking to capture Griffiss memories and experiences from individuals who live in the community to be used in educational programming and to be stored in the RHS archives. RHS staff will invite the first 12 volunteers to the new RHS video studio to participate in an hour-long interview during August and September.
For more information, contact Museum Educator, Miranda Sherrock at (315) 336-5870 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Rome Historical Society website.
Let them know you heard about it on the New York Almanack. Visit our events page.
Photo of Griffiss Air Force Base provided.