Homecoming Celebration for the Fighting 69th Set for March 17th; Wreath Laying Ceremony in Times Square March 16th Honors the Fighting 69th's 155 Years of Service to New York City

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 7, 2006--The Fighting 69th Homecoming Celebration Committee announced today that the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, New York Army National Guard, "The Fighting 69th", will retake its rightful place at the head of the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade March 17th with the unit's largest contingent in a generation. The 69th Infantry has proudly led the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade since the unit's inception more than 150 years ago. This St. Patrick's Day will mark the official welcome home celebration for this famed and valiant unit, which served in some of the most dangerous regions of Iraq.

In recognition of their service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the unit will add its unprecedented 24th Battle Streamer, and first such citation since World War II during a post-parade ceremony at the historic 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. Additionally, four Bronze Star Medals and three Purple Hearts will be awarded to 69th Iraq veterans. Nineteen of these soldiers were killed in action and fifty others were wounded.

The ceremony will begin at 1:30 PM at 68 Lexington Avenue (at 26th Street), on St. Patrick's Day, Friday, March 17, 2006 with Prudential Financial as the lead sponsor. This ceremony precedes a celebration recognizing the contributions of the Fighting 69th. Featured entertainment includes: Derek Warfield of the Wolf Tones, Michael Londras, Tony DeMarco and Seanchai & The Unity Squad.

March 16th Wreath Laying Ceremony in Times Square Kicks Off St. Patrick's Day

A wreath laying ceremony commemorating the 69th's Irish heritage and its service to New York and the United States, will be held in Times Square at Father Duffy Square (Broadway at 45th Street) on Thursday, March 16th at 12 noon, weather permitting. This ceremony, which is open to the public, will include senior commanding officers, soldiers who will receive medals for valor, a color guard from the 69th, bagpipers from the 69th and Ireland's 28th Infantry Battalion, and the singing of the US and Irish national anthems. During this ceremony, a video tribute to the unit on Prudential Financial's "spectacular" 40-by-40 foot sign 300 feet above Times Square will run and continue through St. Patrick's Day. Father Duffy Square is anchored by a statue of Father Francis P. Duffy, the seemingly fearless chaplain of the 69th who offered support and inspiration to soldiers of all faiths during World War I. Upon his return to civilian life, Father Duffy left an indelible mark on New York City. He served near the center of New York City's theater district until his death in 1932. Five years later, the city dedicated a memorial to him by erecting a bronze monument in his honor and renaming a part of Times Square as "Father Duffy Square."

For the March 17th event, corporate, individual sponsorship and donation opportunities are still available. Seating is extremely limited for this event and tickets are necessary. To reserve tickets and sponsorships, please visit www.69thhomecoming.org or call (914) 747-6600, ext. 11. Individual donations should be made payable to the Friends of the Fighting 69th and mailed to P.O. Box 7473, FDR Station, New York, NY 10150-7473 by March 15. Friends of the Fighting 69th is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. For additional information, please visit www.69homecoming.org. All net proceeds from the Homecoming Celebration will benefit the Fighting 69th Children's Trusts.

Originally the Second Regiment of Irish Volunteers, the Fighting 69th was accepted as part of the New York State Militia and designated as the 69th Regiment on October 12, 1851. The unit carries forth the lineage and honors of the Civil War's famed Irish Brigade.

Contacts

Fighting 69th Homecoming Committee
Terrence Tierney, 914-747-6600
or
Division of Military and Naval Affairs
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Fanning, 518-786-4581

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