SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – The legacy of the New York Guard's First Provisional Regiment continues today, more than 90 years after it guarded the New York City reservoir system during World War I.
“I consider the members of the First Regiment of the New York Guard as heroes,” said New York City Department of Environmental Protection Chief Peter Fusco.
Members of the New York Guard’s 56th Brigade and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection gathered Sunday at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to honor the men who served in the First Provisional Regiment of the New York Guard during World War I.
The 1,200-man regiment patrolled 98 miles of aqueducts between Kingston and Yonkers to ensure that New York City and its surrounding communities had access to water between 1917 and 1919.
Regiment volunteers included veterans and men and boys who were not eligible to serve overseas; 40 members died from Spanish Influenza.
The threat to the area's water supply was clear, Fusco noted.
“In fact, there were two instances where members of the regiment uncovered canisters of dynamite and nitroglycerin hidden near the aqueducts,” he said.
Col. David Warager, commander of the 56th Brigade, said officials noted more than 200 vulnerable areas along the water supply system, but the First Provisional Regiment did not allow the line of security on the aqueducts to be breached during its tenure.
“Water is the lifeblood of any large city, and without it, there would be disease, malnutrition and danger from fire,” Fusco said. “Because of the sacrifices of these men and others who served” in the regiment, “the people today in the City of New York have one of the most secure water systems in the nation.”