Gary Williams of Baldwinsville witnessed history Nov. 7.
As a retired Boatswain's Mate Chief in the United States Navy, Williams received an invitation from Binghamton native, Commander F. Curt Jones, USN the Ship's First Commanding Officer, his officers and crew, to attend the official commissioning of the U.S.S. New York in New York City. Berthed next to another historical ship, the U.S.S. Intrepid, which is also a museum, the U.S.S. New York contains the steel remnants in her bow from the Twin Towers after it was destroyed by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Williams promptly returned his RSVP as he "was definitely interested due to the historical value of the commissioning."
"Due to extremely tight security, only those with special tickets [were] allowed onto the pier to witness the commissioning ceremony of, as the Navy calls it, bringing the ship alive," he said.
Williams was asked to witness this historical event thanks to his affiliation with the veteran's group, the Fleet Reserve Association whose regional president is part of the commissioning committee.
Williams said special invitations were also sent to the surviving families of the victims of 9-11, as well as first responders, fire and police personnel and the families of the ship's crew.