Brass plaques mounted on the trees around Lyon Park to honor Port Chester residents who gave their lives for the nation in war have been a familiar site to local residents over the past 60 years.
But due to damage to some plaques and the theft of others, the plaques were taken down for restoration. Today, the plaques are being re-dedicated in an 11 a.m. ceremony at Lyon Park.
“Over the years through attrition, many of the plaques have been lost,” said village resident Richard Cuddy. “They lost a bunch of trees in Irene last year, some had fallen off the trees and sadly some were stolen.”
About 100 plaques were installed around the park to memorialize each of the local residents who passed away in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. Maj. Willaim V. Cuddy, a provost marshal for the Army Air Corps who died in a plane crash in Africa during World War II, was among those memorialized in Lyon Park.
Cuddy’s plaque was one of about 33 that had gone missing over the years.
Richard Cuddy never met his father, William, but has been doing all he can to ensure that his father and the other locals who gave their lives will never be forgotten.
“He is buried in Africa and this is the only memorial to him here in America,” said Cuddy. “His plaque was one of the ones that had gone missing. I had it replaced on a tree and the tree grew and bent it.”
Earlier this year, Cuddy launched an effort to raise $15,000 to replace, refurbish and secure the plaques that mean so much to the families of many of Port Chester’s longtime residents. It cost $220 to replace plaques that have gone missing and about $100 each to refurbish the others.
“They would all look uniform when it’s done and placed in cement stones that would be placed at the foot of the trees,” said Cuddy. “This would help prevent them from being taken and from being warped by the growth of the trees. Even if a tree fell, it would still be right there intact.”
In the process of reviewing the Lyon Park plagues, Cuddy discovered there was a local Marine killed in the Vietnam War who had not been honored with a plaque previously. He became part of the project. PFC Alenn Tate, USMC, was killed Jan. 26, 1966, in Quang Nam, Vietnam.