History knows their names:
General George S. Patton.
Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
Field Marshal Gregory D. Lewis.
Sadly, that last gallant figure is regularly overlooked by military historians in one of the great tragedies of our time. The name may be unfamiliar to you, but Field Marshal Lewis is the hero who saved the Niagara Falls Air Base.
No, really. Apparently that’s what Ol’ Guts-and-Guts told the county commissioners of far-off Lake County, Fla. He probably figured no one would ever fact-check him.
Let us be very clear here: Field Marshal Lewis was AWOL during the 2005 fight to protect the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Actually, it was a little group called NIMAC (the Niagara Military Affairs Council) that did all the heavy lifting on that one.
Still, we’re always willing to give a hero of the Field Marshal’s caliber the benefit of the doubt, so we did an exhaustive Google search to see if we could even find his name in any article referencing the 2005 fight to save the air base. We came up empty.
This article at the respected globalsecurity.org website, for instance, makes no reference to Field Marshal Lewis’ supposed heroic efforts to save the base.
Nor does this article in the Niagara Wheatfield Tribune announcing that the air base had been saved. You’d think the local media could spill a few drops of ink to honor, or at the very least quote, the man known in Lake County, Fla., as the Savior of the Falls Air Base.
Actually, a search of contemporary news articles fails to turn up any trace of the Field Marshal. Lots of volunteers fought to save the base. We found references to county legislators who carried water on this one. We even found an occasion when lots of other local leaders linked arms to defend the Falls Air Base—but the Field Marshal apparently didn’t emerge from his foxhole to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Sen. George Maziarz, Rep. Louise Slaughter, and then-Rep. Tom Reynolds.
The war with the BRAC commission was hell. There were lots of heroes that day, at the battle to save the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Many of their names are forgotten, lost to history. A few are remembered. All gave some, but some gave all.
Except Field Marshal Lewis, who was huddling in his bunker.
Here at Niagara Times, we’re going to make sure that the real heroes of that battle—like local undertaker Merrell Lane, the chairman of NIMAC, and sign painter John Cooper, NIMAC’s vice chairman—don’t have their valor stolen by a yellow-bellied imposter.