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January 16, 2014

Vision for new military museum aims high

PAFB Museum's grand opening slated for June 7

PLATTSBURGH  — A Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum is not a new concept, but to re-establish one 19 years after the former Strategic Air Command base closed is.

The resurrection of the museum was seeded a year and a half ago by Keith Herkalo, president of the Battle of Plattsburgh Association.

The new museum is located across from the War of 1812 Museum on Washington Road in Plattsburgh.

Since May 2013, a group of former Air Force military and civilian personnel, community members and SUNY Plattsburgh students have met to raise a new museum from the dust of what once was.

Three of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum Committee members are retired officers, who desire to keep the memory of the 100,000-plus personnel that served there and 40-year legacy of the base alive. Col. Joseph B. McNichols, committee chairman, Lt. Col. Frank Baehre and Col. Henry J. Wurster have a cumulative 42 years of active service at Plattsburgh, and if anyone can power this museum off the ground these former flyboys can.

The museum is slated to open June 7, and there’s much work to be done by more than a few good men and women.

“The biggest thing we’re excited about is that it’s coming together,” Baehre said. “We now seem to have enough funds to at least open the doors.”

Wurster spent 16 of his 24 years in the Air Force at Plattsburgh.

“It just seemed right that we should have a museum because it was a fairly significant wing throughout the Cold War, and so it was easy for me to make the decision to get involved,” he said.

McNichols was assigned 18-plus years at the base.

“They need a museum, and it’s nice we will be able to get a little one started,” McNichols said. “As Frank says, I’m not too sure if I’m excited about the fundraising because it’s been extremely difficult. And that is our biggest issue and will be forever to keep the thing funded.”

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