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Erie, and its citizens, have played a key role in the military history of our nation. In 1813, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry came to Erie to aid Daniel Dobbins in the creation of a naval fleet that would challenge the largest of opponents. During the Battle of Lake Erie, Perry defeated the British while the US Brig Niagara served as the relief flagship. It was Captain James Lawrence who uttered his famous last words to Perry, "Don't Give Up The Ship," when Perry came aboard the Niagara during this pivotal battle for the Lake.

During the Civil War, Colonel John W. McLane established the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, which participated in almost every major battle in the East. After McLane’s death, Colonel Strong Vincent took over the regiment, leading them onto the Battle at Little Round Top. His efforts during battle gained him the promotion to Brigadier General, a rank bestowed upon him by President Lincoln just before his death.

Colonel John Richard Boyd was an Air Force fighter pilot and Pentagon consultant in the late 20th century. Known for his influential military strategies and the concept of the OODA Loop, he is credited with strategic influence in the Persian Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm and the Iraqi War. Erie native Tom Ridge served as a sergeant during the Vietnam War, where he earned numerous honors including the Bronze Star for Valor. Upon his return, Ridge spent time as a Congressman before becoming the Governor of Pennsylvania. In 2001, Ridge was appointed the first Director of Homeland Security after the tragic events of 9/11, developing a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen the United States against terrorist threats.

Countless of Erie’s own have proudly set out to defend our great nation, and many have given the ultimate sacrifice. The community recognizes the dedication and sacrifice of our servicemen and women. Numerous annual and special events are held in order to celebrate and honor the lives of active duty, reserve and guard forces and veterans throughout the area.
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