Senator Chris Jacobs Veteran of the Month Program Honorees

Senator Jacobs

November 09, 2017

“We owe our Veterans a tremendous debt of gratitude for their many sacrifices and their service to our country.  After serving with great honor and distinction, many of our veterans continue to make a significant impact through their community service, adding to our desire to say “Thank You!”

That is why I initiated the 60th Senate District’s Veteran of the Month program.  I hope my website visitors will come regularly to this page to meet and learn about the dedicated and talented Veterans committed to their communities, and be inspired to serve as well. 

Click here if you would like to nominate a Veteran you know, and congratulations to the Veteran of the Month Honorees!”

State Senator Chris Jacobs 

James Becker

James Becker, November 2018 Read More

  • James Becker, Grand Island, NY


  • Colonel, U.S. Army/Army Reserve 1992-2017


  • Commander with 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Iraq, 2002-2007


  • Served as Deputy Commander, 354th Civil Air Brigade


  • Awarded Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal


  • Co-Founded Artists/Veterans Art Collaborative, using art as therapy for returning vets


  • Works as readjustment counseling therapist at the Buffalo VA Hospital

John Moffat

October 2018, John Moffat Read More

  • John Moffat, Tonawanda, NY


  • U.S. Navy – November 1968-August 1980


  • Served on USS Yellowstone, a destroyer tender, as well as hospital corpsman and dental technician


  • Awarded National Defense Medal and Navy Good Conduct Medal


  • Serves as docent at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, as well as team leader for Commissioning Committee for Special Events


  • Graduate of Buffalo State College, Masters Degree in education


  • Former Chairman of the Town of Tonawanda Community Emergency Response Team


  • Worked at Western New York Independent Living, assisting the disabled to live independently

John Schroeder

September 2018, John Schroeder Read More

  • John E. Schroeder, Orchard Park, NY


  • United States Army, 1968-1970


  • Assigned to 1st Infantry Division, served in combat in Vietnam


  • Awarded Bronze Star, National Defense Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm


  • Member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Society of the First Infantry Division, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Amvets and Veterans of the Vietnam War


  • Past Commander of VFW Post 6247, past President of American Legion Post 567


  • Chaired Orchard Park Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony for 25 years


  • Chairman, Orchard Park Veterans Park Committee, oversaw comprehensive revitalization of park


  • Orchard Park Lions Club, 27 years of outstanding service recognized with 2013 Robert Uplinger Award for Distinguished Service and 2017 Melvin Jones Fellowship Award for dedicated Humanitarian Services

Wayne Baumgartner

Wayne Baumgartner, August 2018 Read More

  • Wayne Baumgartner, Tonawanda, NY


  • U.S. Air Force – 1966-1967, Serving in Vietnam


  • Awarded USAF Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster


  • Current 2nd Vice Commander, Brounshidle Post 205 in Kenmore, former Post Commander


  • Marshall, coordinator Memorial Day/Veterans Day parades since 2009


  • Solicits donations for Post events, needy families and Gold Star Mothers


  • Chairman, Town of Tonawanda Community Emergency Response Team


  • Volunteer fundraiser for annual Tonawanda police vs. firefighter charity hockey game


  • Visits infirm veterans at Buffalo VA and local nursing homes

Jason Jaskula

Jason Jaskula, July 2018 Read More

  •  Jason Jaskula, Hamburg, New York


  • U.S. Army - 1989-1993, U.S. Army Reserve - 1994-Present


  • Operation Iraqi Freedom, October 2004 - 2005


  • Military Advisor, Central Command Multi-National Force, Iraq


  • Advised Iraqi Army’s 5th Division, 6th Battalion, over 150 combat missions


  • 98th Training Division Engineer School, 80th Training Command and 75th Training Command


  • Founder, Killed In Action Memorial Road March honoring fallen comrades, raising money for charity


  • Department of Veterans Affairs’ “Welcome Home Troops” event volunteer


  • “Veterans Golden Age Games” volunteer


  • Mentor, Buffalo Veterans Court


  • Volunteer Program Specialist, Buffalo Veterans Affairs Healthcare System

Thomas O'Connell

Thomas O'Connell, June 2018 Read More

  •  Thomas O’Connell, Buffalo, NY


  • United States Navy, 1965-1969


  • United States Naval Reserve, 1969-1971


  • Served during Vietnam era, honorably discharged with rank of Petty Officer Third Class


  • Awarded National Defense Service Medal for honorable service


  • Highly active in local and county American Legion, serving as vice commander


  • Life member of Amvets, chairman of Committee for Restoration of Veterans’ Posts in Erie County


  • Former president St. Margaret Holy Name Society, named their Man of the Year in 1992


  • Active in Grant-Amherst Business Association/chairman of Buffalo Italian Festival for 10 years

John "Jack" O'Connor

John "Jack" O'Connor, April 2018 Read More

  • John “Jack” O’Connor, Kenmore, NY


  • United States Army, 1968-1970


  • Served in Vietnam with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 25th Infantry Division.


  • Awarded Bronze Star, National Defense Medal, Good Conduct Medal and Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge


  • Worked to create nation’s first Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo, NY


  • Serves as mentor coordinator, Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court


  • Consultant for Justice for Vets, a division of National Association of Drug Court Professionals


  • Member of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 77 in Tonawanda

Allen Prame

Allen Prame - March 2018 Read More

  • Allen Prame, Grand Island, NY


  • United States Navy, 1948-1952


  • Machinist mate in post-WWII Europe


  • Served on USS Waldron and USS Stribling, destroyers in European and Pacific Theaters


  • Earned Occupation of Europe Medal and Good Conduct Medal


  • Past Commander of American Legion Post 1346, serves on Post’s Color Guard


  • Organized annual 4th of July Parade, including escorting of Gold Star Mothers


  • Organized and led installation project of flagpole at the Miracle League Baseball Field serving disabled youths and young adults


  • Arranges successful Post fundraising drives, including annual Poppy sale  

Matejka Baumgardner

February 2018 Veteran of the Month - Matejka Baumgardner Read More

  • Matejka Baumgardner, Hamburg, NY


  • United States Marine Corps, 1999-2003


  • Served with 7th Communications Battalion in Japan


  • Deployed to Kuwait in March 2003, served in operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom


  • Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism and Iraqi Campaign Medal with two Bronze Campaign Stars.


  • Spearheaded Kids Korner, providing free childcare to veterans receiving services at Buffalo VA Hospital


  • Member of this VFW Post #1419 in Hamburg, Erie County Woman’s American Legion Post 1586.


  • Past Commander of VFW Woman’s Post 12097 

James Trembath

January 2018 Veteran of the Month - James Trembath Read More

  • James Trembath, Angola, NY


  • United States Army, December 1965 – January 1968


  • Stationed in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles).


  • Involved in the Newell-Faulkner American Legion Post #880


  • Member of the Post’s Color Guard and public relations


  • Leads the Color Guard during community events and parades


  • Received a Purple Heart and 101st Airborne Paratrooper Wings

Dennis Smilinich

December 2017 Veteran of the Month - Dennis Smilinich Read More

  • Hometown, City of Tonawanda, NY


  • U.S. Army, 20 years of service, retired as First Sergeant in 1990


  • Served in Vietnam as a “tunnel rat” and paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, 326th Engineer Battalion


  • Recipient of Bronze Star and Vietnam Cross of Gallantry


  • Life member – Disabled American Veterans, current member of the Vietnam Veterans Chapter #77 in Tonawanda where he serves as Chairman of the “Remembering Vietnam Memorial” committee, was instrumental in bringing combat helicopter to the city’s Veterans Park.


  • Past County Commander-American Legion, Past Commander Tonawanda’s Post #264 American Legion, current member of Grand Island Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vice-Chairman of the Twin Cities Veterans Council that plans Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies


  • Volunteer advocate for Veterans in need returning from active duty


  • Active volunteer with numerous youth, charity and community organizations, including Tonawanda Football Booster Club, Tonawanda 2020 and Lindsay’s Legacy

Ryan Sajdak

November 2017 Veteran of the Month - Ryan Sajdak Read More

  • Hometown, Buffalo, NY
  • U.S. Army National Guard, 10 years, retired as captain in 2016
  • Served in Afghanistan as an aeromedical evacuation officer
  • Returned home, launched North Buffalo Organization, community-based volunteer group
  • Organized community clean-ups and other events for the benefit of residents in the Hertel Avenue neighborhood
  • Teaches special education in the Buffalo School District.
  • Served as volunteer teacher for students at the Health Sciences Charter School