ABOUT THE EXHIBIT

The New England Air Museum, one of the largest aviation museums in the country, has teamed up with the internationally acclaimed Polish Studies Program at Central Connecticut State University, to create and permanently display a multi-media exhibit paying tribute to the Kosciuszko Squadron. This project, dedicated to heroism and sacrifice, will open in 2021. Poland is America’s most loyal European ally. This exhibit will help us to understand why.

A newly renovated space will house the artifacts, display cases and touchscreen kiosks, each presenting elements of the Squadron’s story in different ways and through different periods of time. Located in a highly trafficked area of the museum, directly between the two primary exhibit hangars, we expect that this exhibit will be viewed by 40,000—45,000 museum visitors annually.


POLAND AND THE UNITED STATES: A TRUE MILITARY FRIENDSHIP

It is not a coincidence that the emblem of the Kosciuszko Squadron bears the American Stars and Stripes. The Squadron was formed in 1919 by a group of Americans, led by Merian C. Cooper, who volunteered to fight with the Polish army in the Russian-Polish War. The insignia was designed by one of its members, Elliot Chess, and features a red, four-cornered military rogatywka that was worn by Tadeusz Kosciuszko in the 1794 Polish rising. Superimposed are two scythes crossed diagonally to represent the peasants who fought with him; and this against a background of the red, white and blue Stars and Stripes of the American flag. This emblem was painted on each plane, thereby creating the Kosciuszko Squadron: a most fitting tribute to the historic bond between the American and the Polish nations.


WHO WERE THE MEN OF THE KOSCIUSZKO SQUADRON?

In 1919, Poland was locked in a struggle with Communist Russia, and the Kosciuszko Squadron, named in honor of the great Polish military strategist Tadeusz Kosciuszko, was formed with the help of American volunteers.

A generation later, the world was at war again, and the stakes were high. Poland had already succumbed to German and Soviet aggression, and the Kosciuszko Squadron, now all Polish, was sidelined.

Eager to help the Allies gain an aerial advantage, the group agreed to fly and fight under British command. They valiantly defended Great Britain against German aerial assault in the decisive 1940 Battle of Britain, with feats that were truly the stuff of legend.

RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding credited the Polish squadrons and their “unsurpassed gallantry,” with changing the fate of the battle.


EXHIBIT ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

 

M.B.B. Biskupski, Ph.D., CCSU Polish Studies Endowed Chair

Waldemar Kostrzewa, CCSU Polish Studies Advisory Board Chair

Renata Vickrey, CCSU Archivist and Polish Studies Advisory Board Member

Debbie Reed, NEAM Executive Director

Warren Boley, NEAM Board of Directors

Nicholas Hurley, NEAM Curator

Ron Katz, NEAM Development & External Affairs

Stephen Perez, NEAM Board of Directors

Thomas Sargis, NEAM Board of Directors


EXHIBIT HONORARY COMMITTEE

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

 

Dr. Piotr Wilczek, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Poland

The Honorable Susan Bysiewicz, Lieutenant Governor, State of Connecticut

ORGANIZATIONS

 

Dr. Antony Bajdek, President American Association of the Friends of Kosciuszko at West Point

Dr. Robert Blobaum, President Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, New York

Dr. Iwona Korga, President Jozef Pilsudski Institute of America

Dr. Robert Kostro, Director Polish Museum of History, Warsaw

Dr. Neal Pease, President Polish American Historical Association

Polish Aviation Museum, Krakow, Poland

Dr. James S. Pula, Professor (Emeritus), Purdue University

Marek Skulimowski, President The Kosciuszko Foundation, NY

Michael P. Speciale, Executive Director (Ret.) New England Air Museum

Dr. Zbigniew Wawer, Director Royal Lazienki Museum, Warsaw


HELP MAKE THIS EXHIBIT A REALITY

We need you to help us tell share the story of these forgotten heroes of Poland!

The New England Air Museum and the Polish Studies Program at CCSU have jointly launched a campaign to raise $125,000 to design and install an exhibit in the Museum which will present this story in a modern, multi-media format that will be exciting and educational.

All donors will be permanently recognized as “Friends of the Kosciuszko Squadron” and donations of $1,000 or more will receive additional recognition.

For information about supporting this exhibit please Contact Development at the New England Air Museum or contact Renata Vickrey at Central Connecticut State University, VickreyR@ccsu.edu or (860) 832-2085. To make a donation online, go to https://ccsu.networkforgood.com/causes/17039-the-kosciuszko-squadron. Donations may also be made by check payable to CCSU Foundation, PO Box 612, New Britain, CT 06050 and marked: “For the Kosciuszko Squadron.”

Contact Development for more information about making a donation.

View renderings of the planned exhibit HERE and download a flyer HERE

We owe it to these heroes.

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