Remembering Buffalo’s Sacrifices: Memorial Day 2018

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Many of us are making plans for a three-day weekend, but in this run up to the Memorial Day weekend– we’re remembering the sacrifices made in Buffalo and by Buffalonians.

Remembering WNYers killed in Vietnam

We’re looking at one man’s quest to make sure the memories of the 532 Western New York service members killed in Vietnam live on.

Promises of peace came and went several times during the decades that American soldiers were in Vietnam… Peace was fleeting, too, for many if not most of the men and women who returned home from Southeast Asia.

“I just didn’t want these men and one woman to be forgotten,” says historian and Vietnam Veteran Pat Kavanagh, who started a huge project and labor of love started with the simple thought.

Pat Kavanagh and his research. Buffalo News photo

“Come hell or high water, I’m going to try to find all the original obituaries of those from Western New York killed in Vietnam,” says Kavanaugh of the through that sent him on his quest. “Right from the start, it just became very emotional.”

Kavanagh visited dozens of libraries and sent all around the country for microfilms, but the greatest effect was in leaving a small town library, and knowing this is place where this man who was killed in action once walked and made plans for a future which never came.

“I thought I was a hard guy, but after reading and copying these obituaries, I’d get into the car, and I’d pass the street where he lived. I’d pass the school where he went. I’m saying, ‘these guys are only 18 or 19 years old, and they’re dead.’ They’d been killed so far away from home,” says Kavanagh. “This is the least we can do for them.”

It’s been years since he started the project and Pat feels the collection with remembrances of 532 WNYers killed in Vietnam is as complete as it can be.

Read More: Pat’s  Information on all 532 veterans with direct ties to the eight counties of Western New York who were killed or died while on active duty in Vietnam  


Buffalo man’s story of surviving D-Day

The late Michael Accordino was a member of the 299th Combat Engineer Batallion on D-Day.

“For D-Day, we were munition men. We had to build the obstacles on the beach,” said then-Private Accordino in a 2011 interview. He and his mates were under heavy fire as they laid the way for infantry and artillery men to fight their way across and liberate Europe.

“There was a lot of firepower from the Germans up on the slope. Lots of machines guns, lots of mortars, lots of artillery as we were hitting the beach,” said Accordino. “We had to work in those conditions. One guy put it this way– imagine trying to mow your lawn, and your neighbor is throwing rocks at you. That’s what was happening to us.”

Accordino’s story is one of survival, but it’s a story he told often through the years so that people wouldn’t forget the sacrifice of the thousands who didn’t make it off of Omaha Beach.

 

The machine gun bullets were landing at my feet. I moved, and a guy raised his sights. He was going to get me, so I turned around and ran back to the obstacle. It wasn’t very big, maybe eight inches of protection.

I laid there, and to my right, there were these guys with a big spool of wire, and I wondered what they were doing with this wire.

They were about ten yards away from me, and I yelled over, “what are you guys doing there?”

All the sudden, they got hit. I seem them rolling, swaying back and forth. They got hit. I looked like someone threw a mortar in there.

I got up, I got the hell out of there, man. I got to the new line, and I just kept on doing my job.

–Michael Accordino, remembering the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944

Mr. Accordino was awarded the Purple Heart after receiving shrapnel wounds on the beach at Normandy. I spoke to him on D-Day in 2011. He died in 2012.


cannon

Buffalo’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers

First, it’s the story of Buffalo’s own Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. 300 US Army volunteers, buried in a mass unmarked grave in the middle of what is now the Delaware Park Golf Course.

About 300 soldiers, who came to Buffalo to protect our national border during the War of 1812 and died of hunger and disease as they spent the winter of 1814 in tents in middle of what is now Delaware Park– but what was then America’s frontier.

In 1814, The Village of Buffaloe was described by one visitor as “a nest of villains, rogues, rescals, pickpockets, knaves, and extortioners.”

But it was volunteer soldiers from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania who’d marched to Buffalo to invade British Canada and defend Buffalo and Black Rock from invasion.

When winter came, they stayed. Wearing light summery uniforms and no winter boots, they lived in open ended tents. It was a particularly brutal winter, and food was slow to make it to the Camp at Buffalo, which was literally the end of the supply line. The food that did make it here was never enough and usually rancid.

Soldiers were dying up to ten a day, and with the ground frozen, the dead were first buried in shallow graves, then eventually just left in tents.

What was left of the army left Buffalo when spring came, but not before paying for three-hundred coffins and for two local men to bury the 300 dead– which they did, in what is now the Delaware Park Golf course.

They remain buried there to this day, a bolder in the middle of the golf course marks the spot where the 300 nameless, faceless men, who died here protecting our country, were laid to rest 204 years ago.

Their sacrifice was remembered this way when that boulder monument was dedicated in 1896:

May their noble example and this tribute to their honor and memory prove an incentive to future generations to emulate their unselfish loyalty and patriotism, when called upon to defend their country’s honor, and if need be die in defence of the flag, the glorious stripes and stars, emblem of liberty, equal rights and National unity.

More: The Mound in the Meadow: Buffalo’s Tomb of the Unknowns 


 

 

Harv Moore & Brandy: The Boy Next Door makes a hit record

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Disc Jockeys are known for telling a lot of stories and taking credit for things, but in the case of WECK’s Harv Moore, he doesn’t have to take credit for a hit song we all know because the band is the ready to give him all the credit in the world.

“Brandy” was a big hit for Looking Glass in 1972.

The New Jersey bar band had recorded an album for Epic Records and the first single released from the album flopped.

Eliot Lurie was a member of Looking Glass and the group’s primary songwriter.

After that miserable showing of the group’s first release, he didn’t think there was any chance for his “Brandy.”

“That probably would have been the end of if, had it not been for a disc jockey in Washington, DC named Harv Moore,” Lurie told “The Tennessean in 2016.

Hear the full interview with Eliot Lurie of Looking Glass

Harv Moore was the morning mayor on WPGC in Washington DC from 1963-1975.

Harv at WPGC in 1971.

A promoter for Epic stopped by the WPGC studios with a test pressing of the Brandy single.

“I listened to it and said, ‘Wow, this is a smash. A home run.'”

Harv started playing it once an hour on his show, and then the station, and then all of Washington loved the song– and it was bound for number one on the Billboard charts.

Hear Harv on WPGC from the Cruisin’ series

“After two weeks, they told us the record would be number one, and it was,” said Lurie.

It’s not often in a career– even a 60 year career like Harv’s– to be able to play a part in making a hit.

“I always felt I had a pretty good ear for music, hearing new stuff. It was a big thrill to see that go to number one in Billboard Magazine, it was a nationwide hit,” said Harv. “I got a nice gold record from Epic Records for it.”

Just a few years later, in 1975, Harv followed his boss at WPGC to WYSL in Buffalo, and he’s been here ever since.

Harv Moore, WECK, 2018

“Buffalo’s my home,” said Harv, getting ready to play another song, sitting behind the mic at WECK.

 

Chicken Wings and Blue Cheese (not Ranch)

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s one of the many things us Buffalonians get pretty sensitive about… chickens wings, what we call them, and what we dip them in.

We mock the uneducated who don’t know any better– but call them Buffalo wings, or those who unwittingly dunk those flats and clubs into Ranch dressing.

But when Frank’s Red Hot– the secret ingredient in most of Buffalo’s favorite chicken wings– tweets about “Buffalo wings” AND eating them with Ranch dressing, it’s enough to make a Western New Yorker lose his mind. And many have on Twitter.

Frank’s has been trying to make up for the gaffe– which is only a gaffe inside the 716 area code.

Steve Watson takes a look at the tweet and the response in The Buffalo News:

Wing ding: Frank’s RedHot tries to clean up a hot mess

Frank’s RedHot has issued its mea Gorgonzola.

The hot-sauce maker on Monday tried to clean up the double culinary gaffe it committed on Saturday, when it sent a tweet that makes sense only if you’ve never set foot in Western New York:

For Buffalonians, that went over like the Sabres’ “Buffaslug” logo.

First, we call them “wings,” or “chicken wings,” but never, EVER “Buffalo wings.”

The bigger issue for most who reacted to the tweet was what came between the plus sign and the equals sign: the “R-word.”

Hundreds of people attempted to educate Frank’s social-media team on the proper etiquette for eating wings. (Hint: It doesn’t involve ranch dressing.)

Using many, many – did we say many? – amusing GIFs, the twitterati gently informed Frank’s that blue cheese is the best and only acceptable dipping sauce for wings.

Twitter users asked whether the company’s social-media account had been hacked, vowed to never again use Frank’s RedHot sauce and otherwise expressed outrage.

On its website, Frank’s touts its long connection to the, um, “Buffalo wing.” (Buffalo don’t have wings!)

It proudly points out that Teressa Bellissimo, the generally accepted inventor of the chicken wing, used Frank’s RedHot cayenne pepper sauce in her trailblazing recipe in 1964 at the Anchor Bar. The company in 2009 introduced Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce to allow customers to “expand their culinary creativity.”

The company waited until Monday afternoon to respond. That’s when Frank’s sent out another tweet saying it wants to properly honor blue cheese dressing.

“Our fans from Buffalo have spoken in response to our #NationalRanchDressingDay tweet and inspired us to create a movement for #NationalBlueCheeseDressingDay, where we can highlight the original perfect pair – Buffalo wings and blue cheese dressing,” a spokeswoman said in a statement to The Buffalo News.

Frank’s said it’s looking for feedback from Buffalonians and others on social media about how best to celebrate this new holiday.

At the same time, the folks behind the National Buffalo Wing Festival – not you, too? – late Monday announced on Facebook that they wanted to host a National Blue Cheese Dressing Day on June 4.

If the two of them join forces, that would be the best pairing since chicken wings and mayonnaise. (Kidding!)

All the news you need without dwelling on it… and then music to make you smile

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It’s really been a great first week on WECK.

I’m honored to be working with such an amazing array of talent, especially Tom and Gail on the WECK Coffee Club.

This year marks my 25th year in radio news– but tomorrow’s big snow storm marks the first time I’m going to be able to be a part of a team putting together the kind of news, information, and entertainment package that best gets us through events like a morning drive snow storm.

I’ll put together the latest, complete up-to-the moment information about the storm, any traffic situations, any problems with power, and anything else that pops up– get that information on the air for you immediately as we get it, and then– instead of dwelling on it, we play a great song.

We don’t need 12 minutes worth of interviews to say that there was a foot of snow and traffic is slow on the 33.

We’d rather spend 20 seconds giving you the basic information without embellishment or dramatics, and then we play a timeless favorite.

Being stuck on the 33 isn’t half as bad when you’re able to find out why you’re stuck– but then sing along with some of the greatest music of all time.

We’re proud to do it that way on Timeless Favorites, Buffalo’s Very Own, WECK… 102.9 FM, 1230 AM, and streaming at WECKBuffalo.com.

Be thankful you can’t hear me singing along… I was jamming with Starbuck this morning.