Grumman Memorial Park Became a Reality on October 28, 2000

November 1, 2000

High winds and low temperatures were not enough to thwart the crowds from coming out and attending the Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony. Well over two thousand people attended to see and hear the various remarks made by our guest speakers, and partake in the celebration of this magnificent achievement.

At precisely 11:00 AM, Co-Chair and Treasurer Joseph Van de Wetering kicked off the program by having the Junior Naval ROTC from nearby William Floyd High School present the Colors. While the National Anthem was played, Director Ken Euring raised the flag of the United States to the top of the relocated Plant 7 flagpole, and then reverently lowered it to half-mast to honor of the brave crew of USS Cole. At the conclusion of the National Anthem two Tomcats of VF-101, the same squadron as our F-14, flew over the monument with tailhooks down in tribute, while the music from the movie "Top Gun" was played over the loudspeakers

After the F-14s completed two passes over the site, Joe returned to the podium to introduce the members of the Board of Directors, Secretary, and Historian for East End Aircraft LI Corp. Following these introductions, Joe summoned the first of our guest speakers to say a few words. First up was David L. Grumman, son of the company’s founder. Dave spoke of what it was like growing up with his dad and related how Mr. Grumman held his employees with such high esteem. Next to speak was Mike Pelehach, F-14 Design Team Project Director, whose comments centered on the Tomcat’s original design criteria.

Bringing an end to the day’s activities, Steve Kirschenbaum presented closing remarks. As past Chairman of the Board, and more recently Site Manager, Steve received much in the way of recognition from every guest speaker. Though this essentially was Steve’s idea, we all worked with him to make Grumman Memorial Park what it is today; a tribute to the legacy of the Grumman Corporation.
George Skurla’s remarks centered on the difficulties experienced during 1973 in meeting a demanding delivery schedule that eventually set the tone for future deliveries. The "Battle of Calverton", as he put it was won by all employees working together to meet a deadline. Tom Gwynne, Grumman Test Pilot and First Flight Pilot of aircraft #331, told us about the pride he had in seeing this aircraft as the centerpiece of a tribute to the Grumman legacy, and reminded us all how Long Island is so deeply rooted in the development of aviation.

Retired Navy Commander Jim Roth, NAVPRO at Calverton, delivered a very moving speech weaving Navy jargon throughout his narrative to relate the closeness of Grumman and the United States Navy. Well done, Jim!

Richard C. Dunne, Director of Public Affairs for Northrop Grumman in Bethpage, spoke of the accomplishment of Grumman retirees, and friends of Grumman, who worked so hard together to first acquire a site, arrange for the delivery of an F-14, and finally put it all together. Dick wished us all the best in our plans for the future.

Senator Kenneth LaValle, First District, was unable to attend but his representative delivered his remarks, and presented Grumman Memorial Park with a New York State flag. Thank you Senator LaValle.

Rounding out the guest speakers was Riverhead Town Supervisor Robert Kozakiewicz who related what the impact of Grumman was on the township and his seeing Grumman aircraft from Calverton flying over his home as a boy. As a special tribute, Supervisor Kozakiewicz presented a Proclamation, and Key to the Town, to the F-14 aircrew who performed the fly-by. In part, the Proclamation named each one for participating in "Grumman Iron Works Day".

Joe Van de Wetering returned once more to the podium and asked that each director unveil the four plaques affixed to the pedestal with the F-14. The first was the dedication plaque containing a sentiment about Grumman and listing the names of the Board of Directors. The second plaque recognized the Town of Riverhead. A plaque honoring the Aircraft Restoration Team lead by Director Ken Euring followed, and the last plaque unveiled lists the many people who contributed their skills, talents and service to completing this project.

Bringing an end to the day’s activities, Steve Kirschenbaum presented closing remarks. As past Chairman of the Board, and more recently Site Manager, Steve received much in the way of recognition from every guest speaker. Though this essentially was Steve’s idea, we all worked with him to make Grumman Memorial Park what it is today; a tribute to the legacy of the Grumman Corporation.