March 2, 2013

Could PAFB museum fly?

Public invited to weigh inat informational meeting

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh Air Force Base, a huge presence here for 40 years, has little remaining to tell its story.

But there’s a move to create a Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum, an idea Keith Herkalo pitched at a recent Battle of Plattsburgh Association Board of Directors meeting.

Now, at a meeting set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7, he’ll bring it to the larger community.

Such a museum could fill a void in the area’s historical coverage, he said, and leave a lasting record of a base that greatly influenced the North Country and remains a point of pride among those associated with it.

Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp. has looked for “a legacy project,” said Herkalo, president of the Battle of Plattsburgh Association Board.

“I would hope they would look at the Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum as that legacy that they would leave to the community and the nation.”


Interest already exists.

Over time, Herkalo has noticed that those who grew up in or on the base itself stop there to show it to their children or relatives.

“They all have fond memories of the community here,” he said. “We have a situation where we’re not meeting a need.”

Even tourists with no connection to the area would stop, too, he said, looking for information about the base, which was home to the 380th Bombardment Wing.

Some will walk into the War of 1812 Museum and ask where the (presumed) Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum is located, Herkalo said.

“They come to see the airplanes; they bring their relatives. They wonder what happened (to the base,)” he said.

“It seems a natural extension that we would create a museum adjacent to the Clyde Lewis Air Park.”

Lewis, who died at age 95 in 2009, lobbied the Air Force to bring the Strategic Air Command base to the area in the 1950s.

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