On Monday, 26 Sept., was the first burial in a new veterans cemetery that has been in the planning for over 15 years. Clinton Van Gelder, formerly of Intelaken, NY, who died on 22 Jan. 2010, had told his wife, Eva, that he wished to be buried in the new veterans cemetery. Van Gelder had his Basic Training at Sampson in 1952 when it was an Air Force Base. Van Gelder’s widow, family and friends were there to attend his burial. Van Gelder will soon be joined by other burials that have been awaiting the opening of the cemetery.
The Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery is located on Seneca Lake in the Town Romulus, Seneca County on the west side of Route 96A. During Wold War II the site was the Sampson Naval Training Center and also had a small POW camp. It is estimated that over 400,000 recruits (both men & women) were trained there. For more information and photos of Sampson during WWII visit this website. The site was closed after that war and then reactivated as Sampson Air Force Base during the Korean War. During that time an estimated 330,000 recruits were trained. This other website gives details of its time as an Air Force Base.
In 1960 the former military site was purchased by New York State and eventually became Sampson State Park. Then in 2005 New York State deeded 162 acres over to Seneca County to build the cemetery. The official dedication of the cemetery was on 30 July 2011. The cemetery offers free burials for veterans and an average priced burial for their spouse. It is hoped that in the future the cemetery will get the official designation as a National Cemetery.