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General’s family donates boat for soldiers

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HENDERSON HARBOR — Fort Drum soldiers will have an opportunity to navigate deeper waters around the north country with the donation of a boat from the family of Lt. Gen. Paul G. Cerjan, the 10th Mountain Division’s former assistant commander.

Patricia H. Cerjan, Gen. Cerjan’s widow, said she and her husband had owned the boat since 2005, but for the past few years the 32-foot Uniflite boat saw limited use, which gave her the idea of donating it to support the recreational offerings of the post her husband loved.

“The mosaic fit together,” she said.

Gen. Cerjan was one of a number of leaders who helped develop the post after the division was assigned to the installation in the mid-1980s, and also helped build community groups such as the Fort Drum Steering Council, now known as the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, and the Northern New York-Fort Drum Chapter of the Association of the United States Army. He died in Florida in April 2011 at the age of 72.

The boat, featuring the division’s logo on the back, is named Climb to Glory III, representative of the division’s motto.

“There was no other name for a boat in his mind,” said Timothy M. Cerjan, Gen. Cerjan’s youngest son. “The 10th was always on his mind.”

Harold E. Greer, director of the post’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation office, said the large boat was something the program would never buy on its own, and would allow groups of soldiers to go out into deeper waters than they could with its collection of smaller boats.

“We’ve never had that capacity,” he said. He added that resources such as boats allow soldiers, many of whom come from outside the area, to get a better understanding of the region’s natural resources.

Mrs. Cerjan said her favorite memory of owning the boat was going to Sackets Harbor with her husband and three children and diving off the back of the boat, which she hoped would continue with the new users of the boat.

“Maybe they’ll jump in the water and play too,” she said.

Others attending the short ceremony at South Bay Marina were Brig. Gen. Mark J. O’Neil, deputy commander for operations, Mr. Greer, and Michael T. Plummer, fellow 1960 West Point graduate with Gen. Cerjan and president of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division, along with a handful of soldiers representing the post’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program.

During the ceremony, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, presented Mrs. Cerjan a copy of the bill formally naming Interstate 781 the Paul Cerjan Memorial Highway. The road was dedicated in December.

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