Monument lauds Navys Amphibious Forces

Times Herald-Record  Middletown, NY

A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace," a color guard stood at attention, and several dozen people gazed respectfully at a brown and gold plaque on a gray stone.


Roy Galewski never expected such a big fuss for what he considered a small act of kindness and remembrance. But others gathered in the courtyard at the Veterans Affairs

Medical Center at Castle Point yesterday thought all the attention was well deserved. After all, Galewski not only had the idea to pay tribute to the U.S. Navy's Amphibious Forces, he also paid for the monument out of his own pocket.


Yesterday, the monument was unveiled and dedicated. It joins two other monuments in the same courtyard, one honoring veterans of the World War n China-Burma-India campaign, the other paying tribute to the Merchant Marine.


Galewski, 77. who lives in Rock Tavern, is one of many World War II veterans who served in the Amphibious Forces and whose job was to land American soldiers and ammunition on enemy shores -often under heavy fire. They were a "rag-tag" unit, Galewski recalled, who often bad to wear whatever clothes they could get their hands on.


"In the Pacific, they called us 'MacArthur's Navy,' " Galewski recalled, referring to 'Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a top U.S. commander in the Pacific campaigns.


On his recent visits to Castle Point, Galewski would walk past the other monuments and got to wondering why there couldn't be one for the Amphibious Forces. They played a big role in winning the war, but he saw them becoming a forgotten part of that victory.


Through a series of phone calls Galewski was put in touch with Jerome Vaughan, head of volunteer services at Castle Point, who helped him arrange to have the monument erected.

During the ceremony, Donald Presutti-Galewski's brother-in-law and a former Newburgh mayor - sprinkled the monument with sand from a Pacific island to symbolize the beaches where the Amphibious Forces landed. With World War II veterans dying at a rate of 1,000 a day, Presutti said monuments like this one are important.


"After [these veterans] are gone, who will tell their story?" Presutti asked. "The answer is you and me, and our children, and their children, so we will never take for granted freedom as we know it.