Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to designate future Route I-781 in Jefferson County as the Paul Cerjan Memorial Highway.
"It is my honor to sign this legislation that will recognize the commitment and accomplishments of Lieutenant General Cerjan, as well as the tremendous impact he had on the North Country and Fort Drum base," Governor Cuomo said. "Lieutenant General Cerjan was a true New Yorker, who for decades dedicated his time and energy to protect Americans, including building Fort Drum into the world class military base it is today. He is an American hero who deserves to have his legacy remembered, and I commend the bill sponsors for taking the initiative to rename the soon-to-be Route I-781 after Lieutenant General Cerjan."
The highway designation recognizes the late U.S. Army Lieutenant General Paul G. Cerjan's contribution to the region, state, and entire nation. Born in Rome, New York and a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Cerjan served the Nation for 34 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant General. As the Assistant Division Commander for Support of the 10th Mountain Division from 1985 to 1988, he was responsible for the planning, programming and the execution of a $1.2 Billion construction project which transformed Fort Drum from a small reserve training center to a globally recognized military base. His vision, knowledge of the Department of Defense military construction process and understanding of the Corps of Engineers policies and procedures enabled the General to bring the project to completion on time, to standard and under budget.
After retirement in 1994, Lt. Gen. Cerjan led several organizations in direct support of soldiers in combat, including spending several years in the combat theaters of Iraq and Kuwait. He also served as president of three universities. Lieutenant General Cerjan remained actively involved with the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division and was the co-chair of the 10th Mountain Division Scholarship Fund. He passed away in April 2011.
Interstate 781 is a future auxiliary highway that is under construction north of Watertown in Jefferson County. When complete, the route will extend for 4.9 miles from I-81 in Pamelia to the main entrance of Fort Drum in Le Ray.
Senator Patty Ritchie said, "Lieutenant General Paul Cerjan served his country for more than 30 years and continued to give back to the Ft. Drum community even after his retirement. Naming the Interstate Highway 81 Ft. Drum Connector after General Cerjan is the perfect tribute to his service and his sacrifice. I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation and retired Col. Plummer, whose advocacy was a major catalyst in this legislation."
Assembly Member Addie Russell said, "Perhaps more than anyone else, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Cerjans work made Fort Drum the invaluable resource for our community that it is today. He went on to achieve a great deal after leaving the installation, but his love of the North Country brought him back to leadership roles with the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division and the 10th Mountain Division Scholarship Fund. It is great to see his achievements and contributions for the families of the North Country preserved through the renaming of this highway."