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St. Stephen to host 'Cruise Ships to Carriers'

Sat, Sep 30th 2017 07:00 am
The public is invited on Friday, Oct. 6, beginning at 7 p.m., to the hospitality room at St. Stephen R.C. Church, 2100 Baseline Road, for a history program presented by a noted Western New York historian.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, ushered in a new era in naval warfare. Never again would the tide of battle on the high seas be determined solely by the might of a nation's surface fleet. Instead it would be aircraft-launched from aircraft carriers that would play the preeminent role in naval warfare. Since the end of the Second World War, this role has only expanded, as the nuclear carriers of the U.S. Navy are now able to protect American interests by projecting military power anywhere on the globe.
While far removed from the world's oceans, Western New York played a significant role in several milestones in the evolution of naval aviation. Not the least of these involved the conversion of a pair of Great Lakes luxury cruise ships to aircraft carriers in 1942-43. This important, but little-known, event will be the topic when historian Douglas DeCroix visits St. Stephen's on Oct. 6. In his presentation, "Cruise Ships to Carriers," he will discuss the rationale for the conversion, as well as shed light on the project and its aftermath. As part of the presentation, he will share numerous "before and after" images of the ships, along with a few notable individuals whose skills were honed on them.
Douglas DeCroix currently serves as executive editor of Western New York Heritage, Inc., the not-for-profit publisher of "Western New York Heritage" magazine. He holds degrees in history from the University of Illinois and Miami University of Ohio, and achieved doctoral candidacy status at Bowling Green State University.
A native of Chicago, DeCroix came to Western New York in the early 1990s. Since then, he has made contributions to numerous nationally aired historical documentaries produced by WNED-TV and The History Channel. He oversaw production of the three-volume commemorative series on the War of 1812, published by "Western New York Heritage," and was one of the scholars selected to contribute a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of the War of 1812, published by the Taylor & Francis Group in late 2015.
For his contributions to regional history, DeCroix was selected to receive the prestigious Owen B. Augspurger Award by the Buffalo History Museum in October 2015. He continues to collaborate with a variety of cultural and educational organizations, working to celebrate the region's rich history while seeking creative ways of bringing that history into the classroom and into the lives of the region's inhabitants.

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