Cahill: Legislation to Rename Route 9-W After Legendary WWII Unit Passes Assembly

Former Assemblymember Lawrence Bennett lead the charge to pass legislation
June 20, 2006

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) announced today that the State Legislature has approved a measure to rename a portion of Route 9-W after an infantry division known for its heroics in both World War I and World War II. Veteran and former Assemblymember Lawrence Bennett, of Newburgh, lobbied diligently for the legislation to rename the highway the "86th Blackhawk Infantry Division Memorial Highway" as a fitting tribute to the members of the unit he served with during World War II.

“This memorial is another mark of our enduring gratitude to those who sacrificed so much to protect our way of life,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “I am very proud to have played a role in securing this designation.”

The legislation (A.9709 - Cahill /S.6320 - Larkin), will amend the highway law to rename Route 9-W as the "86th Blackhawk Infantry Division Memorial Highway". The designation will stretch from the border of Orange and Rockland County north through all of Orange County and a portion of Ulster County and terminate in the Town of Esopus at the bridge which spans the Rondout Creek.

“On behalf of the 86th Blackhawk Division Association, I appreciate the extra effort Assemblymember Cahill and Senator Larkin put forth to get this legislation passed. As a former Legislator, I recognize that this is sometimes necessary to pass such measures,” said Mr. Bennett. “This bill honors not only the Blackhawks who are living, but those who gave their lives in World War II and their families.”

“The heroic actions of these soldiers represent the tremendous sacrifices they made to defend, protect, and preserve the freedoms we cherish. Naming this portion of the New York State Highway system after them is just one small way of recognizing these special individuals and expressing the gratitude all New Yorkers feel for their sacrifice,” said Senator Larkin.

The 86th Blackhawk Infantry Division was first formed during World War I and served as a critical component of the United States Army during both World War I and World War II. The Blackhawks were one of the few Army units to serve in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. The 86th spearheaded Patton's Third Army as it moved through Bavaria. When Germany surrendered in May of 1945, the Blackhawks were within 23 miles of Adolf Hitler's mountain retreat, Berchtesgaden. After the Germans surrendered the Division was then immediately shifted to the Pacific and stationed in the Philippines where their primary responsibility was to train and equip the newly organized Philippine Army.

The legislation must first be sent to the Governor for his signature. If approved, the Commissioner of Transportation will then schedule a ceremony to formally dedicate the highway.