Michaelene “Micky” Taczkowski, enjoys seeing her late husband Richard's name on the Merchant Marine Memorial at the Buffalo Naval and Servicemen's Park this past May.
NORTH COLLINS — It took time, but the family of the late Richard J. Taczkowski, are celebrating the placement of his name on the Merchant Marine World War II Memorial located at Buffalo's Naval and Servicemen's Park.
Taczkowski was known to area residents having operated the North Collins Hotel for more than forty years with his wife Michaelene “Micky” until his death in 1998.
He grew up helping with the family's grocery business in Buffalo. At age 17 he signed on with the Merchant Marine in late March of 1945. After receiving training at Sheepheads Bay in Brooklyn, Taczkowski would serve until 1946 mainly along the ports of the Mediterranean Sea, helping first supply the final advances by Allied troops, and then, supporting the occupation of Europe.
That the memorial in Buffalo is called “Rust Bucket” highlights the often forgotten status of the nation's Merchant Marine and its vital and dangerous service. Ships that would never have been considered for cargo by private enterprise were pressed into war service to deliver men, munitions and supplies to the two theaters of combat during the World War II. Hundreds of them lie in the ocean's depths, the victims of storms, or, more frequently, U-boat torpedoes.
Taczkowski returned to the United States and worked in the family business, which had taken a turn. While away, his parents had purchased what was then called the Venice Hotel in North Collins.
The outbreak of the Korean Conflict would draw Taczkowski back into service, this time as a member of the Second Armored Division. His unit found itself stationed both at Fort Hood in Texas and in Germany during his hitch from 1950-52.
His tour also officially made him a veteran of two separate wars.
His return again found him engaged in the family business, although this time, as the owner. “His mother sold him the hotel for $1” said his son, Richard L. “Rich” Taczkowski. He also met his life partner Mickey and the two were wed on Halloween in 1952.
While knowing of his dad's service, Rich didn't know about the Merchant Marine memorial until he became a resident of Downtown Buffalo and discovered the monument. He began inquiries which first took him to the local Merchant Marine Veteran's Chapter President and then to the Executive Director of the Naval Park. “It turned out to be a multi-year effort,” said the younger Taczkowski.
Those efforts paid off earlier this year when chisel met stone and the elder Taczkowski's name was added to the list of fellow area mariners.
“My dad was quiet, he didn't seek accolades,” says Rich, “He served his country.”
Taczkowski added, with satisfaction, “My dad's name in now on the monument in the major military park in Western New York. ”