Kościuszko Squadron Events > New England Air Museum


Kościuszko Squadron Exhibit dedicated at the New England Air Museum


WINDSOR LOCKS, CT – November 8, 2007 -- The new Kościuszko Squadron Exhibit at the New England Air Museum will be officially opened to the public at 10 a.m. on Sunday, November 11. The exhibit will become a permanent part of the Museum's collection and will be available for viewing on a daily basis.

Central Connecticut State University‘s Stanislaus A. Blejwas Endowed Chair in Polish and Polish American Studies and the New England Air Museum developed the exhibit to honor the Kościuszko Squadron, an aviation unit that helped to defend the newly re-constituted Polish nation from early Soviet attacks. As U.S. veterans of World War I volunteered to fly with the squadron, it was named in honor of an American Revolutionary War hero from Poland, Tadeusz Kościuszko.

The New England Air Museum, located by Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., is one of the nation's oldest and largest aviation museums. Its collection is extensive and includes artifacts and memorabilia from all periods of aviation beginning with the oldest surviving aircraft in the United States right up to the modern era. The Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, all year round.

Dr. M.B. Biskupski, holder of the Blejwas Endowed Chair at CCSU, noted: “The display is important to Polish-American relations for several reasons. First is that, after World War I, seasoned American combat pilots volunteered for Polish service out of a sense of debt to Poland as the homeland of Tadeusz Kościuszko. During the American Revolution, Kościuszko was a well-trained professional officer whose experience and talents as a military leader were of inestimable value in helping to mold the fledgling American armed force that ultimately defeated the professionally-trained British Army.

“Second, Kościuszko has an interesting connection to Connecticut, the state in which such aviation pioneering companies as the Pratt & Whitney aircraft engine company and the Sikorsky Aircraft Company flourished. In 1776, General Kościuszko was recruited in France by Benjamin Franklin and Connecticut native Silas Deane, a delegate to the American Continental Congress.

“Hence, there is a real sense of closing the circle of history by having this valiant Pole, General Tadeusz Kościuszko, honored by members of American Polonia in the Nutmeg State. And, of course, giving long overdue recognition to the air unit that helped secure Polish independence following World War I and played a crucial role in defending Great Britain during World War II,” Biskupski said.

“A great community effort raised over $40,000 to enable the development of this exhibit to honor Poland’s famed Kościuszko Squadron,” said Central Connecticut State University President Jack Miller.

“The Kościuszko Squadron has become symbolic of Polish-American cooperation and that same spirit of Polish-American cooperation,” Miller said. “A community advisory committee chaired by Mary Mazurek Heslin – worked very hard with some 170 individuals, associations and organizations interested in preserving and honoring this part of Polish history and heritage. The committee also coordinated the donation of two original Polish Air Force uniforms and other memorabilia.”

Members of the Kościuszko Squadron Commemorative Committee are: Prof. Biskupski, Dr. Peszke, Polish Air Force Veterans Association President K.S. Rasiej, P.E., Igor I. Sikorsky, Jr., Esq., and Harvey Hubbell, IV. Close liaison with the New England Air Museum is maintained by an Executive Committee of the Polish Studies Program chaired by Biskupski and including Peszke, CCSU Associate Vice President Nicholas Pettinico, Jr., and Chairman of the Advisory Board of CCSU’s Polish Studies Program Waldemar Kostrzewa. The committee’s honorary patron is Joseph E. Gore, Esq., President of the Kościuszko Foundation in New York.

According to Museum Executive Director Michael P. Speciale: "The New England Air Museum is extremely pleased to play such an important role in telling the story of this little known but heroic chapter of aviation history. NEAM is one of the nation's outstanding aviation museums and, as such, it will prove to be a fitting home for the Kosciuszko exhibit."

Further information about the Kościuszko Squadron memorial is available by calling 860-832-3010 or on-line at: www.ccsu.edu/Kosciuszko/. Information about the Museum can be found at (860) 623-3305 or by visiting www.neam.org

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