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Old Fort Niagara to present Medal of Honor program


Thu, Mar 14th 2024 07:00 am

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, Old Fort Niagara will present a free Zoom lecture about Niagara County’s own Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Frank Gaffney. The talk will feature author John Strasburg, who recently published a book titled “He Charged Alone,” a chronicle of Gaffney’s life.

OFN stated, “Frank Gaffney was a 33-year-old papermaker from Lockport … when America entered World War I in 1917. While his age exempted him from serving in the military, Gaffney ran to the colors anyway. He fought bravely on Belgian and French battlefields as a U.S. Army soldier with the 27th Division's 108th Infantry Regiment. On Sept. 29, 1918, Gaffney singlehandedly breached a section of Germany's Hindenburg Line, coming away with 80 prisoners.

“Six grateful nations recognized his bravery, including his own. In June 1919, the United States awarded him the Medal of Honor. Years later, the 27th Division's commanding general, Maj. Gen. John F. O'Ryan, wrote of Gaffney, ‘no one man had performed more daring exploits and had exercised a bigger influence upon those about him by the gallantry of his conduct.

“In ‘He Charged Alone,’ John Strasburg chronicles the life of a First World War American soldier whose bravery was once compared to that of the legendary Sgt. Alvin York. To tell the story, the author weaves together Gaffney’s personal correspondence with military/government records, newspaper accounts, and published unit histories. Much of the talk focuses on Gaffney's military service, heroism on the battlefield, and subsequent rehabilitation from a combat injury he received in the war's closing days, but not overlooked are Gaffney's upbringing and how he managed the burden that comes with being a Medal of Honor recipient. At its core, this talk memorializes a true American hero from New York state who, in life, was admired by people across the country but, in death, has been nearly forgotten. In ‘He Charged Alone,’ Frank Gaffney's legacy returns to the fore, where it belongs.”

Those interested in attending this free Zoom program can register on the events page of the fort’s website at www.oldfortniagara.org.

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