Cuomo signs Ortt legislation renaming Highway 104 in Lewiston 'General William "Wild Bill" Donovan Memorial Highway'
On Tuesday, New York State Sen. Rob Ortt announced his legislation renaming Lewiston's Highway 104 was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Sponsored by Ortt (S7827) and Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello (A10548), this bill sees Highway 104 renamed the "General William 'Wild Bill' Donovan Memorial Highway."
"General Donovan is one of the greatest military heroes our country has ever seen, and it is important that we have something that celebrates the contributions he made to our country," Ortt said. "While many may not be aware of the extraordinary life this patriot lived, hopefully, by renaming this highway, it will spark interest from others into learning who this man was, while also honoring his legacy."
A Buffalo native and pre-law undergrad at Niagara University, Donovan served his country on the front lines in France during World War I, earning the Croix de Guerre, which was a medal of France awarded to those who displayed deeds of extraordinary heroism. After the first great war, Donovan would go on to work in in the field of law while doubling as an intelligence gatherer for a U.S. government that was interested in monitoring the rise of communism in Europe. While back in Buffalo, Donovan would serve as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York.
In 1941, Donovan would become the coordinator of intelligence (COI) for the Office of Strategic Services (the first incarnation of the CIA). Assigned to the position by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Donovan would be instrumental in setting up the first formal U.S. government spy agency. Eventually, Donovan would become the U.S. ambassador to Thailand, serving as the eyes and ears for the U.S. in a part of the world that, at the time, was susceptible to a communist takeover.
In 1959, Donovan passed away at the age of 76.
He is the only American to ever be awarded the four highest military awards: the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the National Security Medal.
Known as the "Father of American Intelligence," Donovan is buried in Arlington Cemetery.