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LOCKPORT MAN WHO PILOTED SHUTTLE HAS JAMESTOWN ROOTS, RESIDENTS RECALL

Lockport proudly claims the commander of the space shuttle Endeavour, Air Force Lt. Col. William Gregory, as a native son.

But Jamestown residents recall his roots here as the descendant of a family of military pilots.

He also is well-known through his involvement with Camp Onyahsa, a YMCA camp on the shores of Chautauqua Lake.

His Chautauqua County ties were recalled by Thomas C. Duro, a Jamestown native who is a writer and motivational speaker.

"Many years ago, in the Albanian community, Dhimitra Gregory was a pillar of the St. Louis Albanian Orthodox Church," Duro said. "She was a good friend of my mother. I was struck by the fact she had so much anxiety and tragedy in her life."

One of her sons, George, a bomber pilot, died when his plane was shot down early in World War II. Her oldest son, William, also flew many missions during the war. He survived and raised a family in Lockport.

Her third son, Stanley, joined the Navy and became a pilot, but family and friends urged him to return to Jamestown and stop placing himself in danger.

Stanley bought a restaurant on Cherry Street. One night, a vagrant hopped off a train at the Erie Railroad Station nearby and walked into the restaurant with a gun.

As Duro tells it, Stanley reached for his money, and the vagrant -- fearing he was going for a weapon -- shot him dead.

"It was a civilian bullet -- not a military bullet or a tossing aircraft carrier that found its mark," Duro said.

Mrs. Gregory now lives with her son William in Gilbert, Ariz.

Her grandson and six colleagues landed Endeavour in the Mojave Desert March 18, ending a 16 1/2 -day stargazing mission that was the longest in space shuttle history. The astronauts traveled 6.9 million miles and circled Earth 262 times.

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