Senator Chris Jacobs Veteran of the Month Program Honorees

Senator Jacobs

November 09, 2017

Veteran of the Month

“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 

Joseph Suto Jr.

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State Action Read More

Michael Shanley, January 2020 Read More

  • Michael Shanley– Grand Island, NY


  • United States Army, 2000-2004


  • Served with 4th Infantry Division in Iraq from 2003-2004


  • Participated in the mission that captured former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein


  • Earned Valorous Unit Award, Army Accommodation Medal, Iraqi Freedom Medal, Global War on Terror Medal, National Defense Medal, Army Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal


  • Three Army Achievement Awards – Excellence in Tank Maneuvering, Gunnery Skills, Eliminating five enemy armored vehicles in a single battle


  • Co-Founder of Dog Tags New York, which provides therapy dogs to veterans in need


  • Volunteer for Buffalo Tunnels to Towers, KIA Memorial Road March and WNY Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial


  • Life member of Charles DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249 since 2002


  • Volunteer for Niagara County SPCA, 2013-2019

Suzanne Quirk

Suzanne Quirk, December 2019 Read More

  • Suzanne Quirk – Angola, NY


  • United States Army, 1973-1997


  • Served as weather observer, ballistic meteorologist, attaining rank of Master Sergeant


  • Lifetime member of American Legion, ERIECO Women’s Post 1586 for 21 years


  • Member of Women’s Army Corps Veterans’ Association, charter member of Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Washington, D.C.


  • Named 2015 Erie County Legionnaire of the Year and 2016 Eight District Legionnaire of the Year


  • Commander of the Erie County American Legion from 2017-2018


  • Worked for Autistic Services, Lutheran Services and The Resource Center, retired from NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities


  • Volunteers, support local Meals on Wheels program

Robert Davis

Robert Davis, November 2019 Read More

  • Robert Davis - Orchard Park, NY


  • United States Air Force from 1971-1975


  • Served as X-Ray technician assigned to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada


  • Honorably discharged January 1975 with rank of Sergeant


  • Joined American Legion Post 567 in Orchard Park in 1974 at urging of father, a World War II veteran


  • Began placing small U.S. flags at graves of veterans on Memorial Day 1976


  • Along with family, friends and Boy Scouts, has placed 1,700 flags at graves in Orchard Park


  • Active member of Hillcrest Volunteer Fire Company since 1990, becoming an EMT and serving with fire police


  • Member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, where he serves in numerous roles


  • Retired in 2016 as a laborer for the Orchard Park School District

Stephen Siulc

Stephen Siulc, October 2019 Read More

  • Stephen Siulc – Orchard Park, NY


  • Joined U.S. Army following 9/11 attacks, began basic training in January 2002


  • Served in Afghanistan as a M240 Bravo machine gunner with 10th Mountain Division


  • Returned to U.S. for additional training before deployment to Iraq in 2005


  • Served with infantry unit responsible for security of election sites, Abu Ghraib prison


  • Joined Veterans of Foreign Wars in 2008, currently serves as commander for VFW Post 1419 in Hamburg, Erie County Council of Veterans of Foreign Wars


  • Employed as rating veterans service representative in the Veterans Benefit Administration compensation office


  • Participating in Odyssey Workshops at CPEA Gallery, an art exhibit of works done by veterans, including his photography


  • Married to wife of nine years, Kara, and father of three

Henryk John Markulis

Henryk John Markulis, September 2019 Read More

  • Retired Colonel Henryk John Markulis – Hamburg, NY


  • Entered U.S. Air Force in March 1969, second of third-generation military family


  • Flew WC-130 as “hurricane hunter” in Puerto Rico and Mississippi until July 1974


  • Assisted in freeing American personnel from U.S. Embassy in Saigon at the conclusion of the Vietnam War


  • Participated in the rescuing of the USS Mayaguez in the final battle of the Vietnam War in 1975


  • Former commander, executive officer, Charleston Air Force Base


  • Air staff action officer for Joint Chiefs of Staff, responsible for congressional and aeronautic issues at Pentagon


  • Served in leadership roles while based in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei and Iceland


  • Retired in 1995 as senior pilot with combat experience and more than 2,500 flying hours.


  • Awarded Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Combat Readiness Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal.


  • Member of VFW and American Legion posts in Orchard Park

Christopher Fisher

Christopher Fisher, August 2019 Read More

  • Christopher Fisher – Tonawanda, NY


  • United States Army, October 1999-September 2002


  • Honorably discharged as Specialist/E4


  • Assisted first wave of Army Rangers deployed from Fort Benning following 9/11 attacks


  • Awarded National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and two Army Achievement Medals for expert marksmanship


  • Former 3rd Vice Commander of American Legion Post 264 in Tonawanda


  • Joined New York City Police Department in January 2005


  • Joined SUNY Police in 2013, member of UB Veterans Steering Committee


  • Currently a narcotics investigator for the NYS Department of Health


  • Volunteer with Town of Tonawanda Youth Court, 2003-2016


  • Volunteer for “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” fundraiser on behalf of Erie County Crisis Services

Washington Lewis

Washington Lewis, July 2019 Read More

  • Washington Lewis – Buffalo, NY


  • United States Air Force, 1978-1987, Army Reserves 1988-‘89


  • Entered delayed enlistment program at 16 years old


  • Participated in remote military maneuvers in South Korea


  • Assisted Air Force security police with searches of plane crash scenes


  • M-60 machine gunner training


  • Selected to NCO leadership program, earned rank of Staff Sergeant at only 23 years old


  • Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon, NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon


  • Bus driver at Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority since 1995


  • Accomplished guitar player and active parishioner at New Creation Fellowship Church in Buffalo

Robert Kenefic

Robert Kenefic, June 2019 Read More

  • Robert Kenefic – Hamburg, NY


  • United States Army, September 1965-July 1967


  • Assigned to 196th Light Infantry Brigade, deployed to Vietnam


  • Wounded twice in battle, earning two Purple Hearts, Combat Infantry Badge


  • Honorably discharged in 1967 with rank of Private 1st Class


  • Graduated from Iona College with degree in marketing


  • Hired by telephone company, transferred to Buffalo area in 1981


  • Member of American Legion Post 527, volunteers at Buffalo VA hospital


  • Father of three, retired and living with wife Linda in Hamburg.

Raymond Borawski

April 2019, Raymond Borawski Read More

  • Raymond Borawski – Town of Tonawanda, NY


  • United States Air Force, 1968-72


  • Served as Aircraft Radar Navigation Systems Repairman


  • Deployed to Indochina in support of the Vietnam Conflict, 1970-71


  • Received National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal.


  • Member of the Milton J. Brounshidle American Legion Post 205 in Kenmore for 10 years


  • Assisted with Post’s membership drives since 2015


  • Visits infirmed veterans at VA Hospital in Buffalo, as well as area nursing facilities


  • Three of his four children served in the U.S. Army


  • Volunteers within community, including Meals on Wheels/Ken-Ton Closet

Joseph Cash

Joseph Cash, March 2019 Read More


  • Joseph Cash – Orchard Park, NY


  • Drafted into United States Army in 1954, served in Japan


  • Specialist 4th Classwith 1st Cavalry Division Battery C 99th Field Artillery Battalion


  • Member of American Legion for 45 years, named Legionnaire of the Year in 1994


  • Commander, Legion Post 567 in Orchard Park for total of 11 years


  • Participates in veterans events, parades throughout Erie County


  • Advocates for homeless veterans, serves as member Homeless Female Veterans 5K Annual Race


  • Sponsors Little League baseball and football teams in the community

Elmer Wienclawski

Elmer Wienclawski, February 2019 Read More

  • Elmer Wienclawski, Town of Tonawanda


  • Civilian Conservation Corps (arm of the U.S. Army), 1938-1940


  • Rejoined U.S. Army as winch operator, 1943-1946, U.S. Army Reserves, 1946-1950,


  • Recalled by Army in 1950, serving in Korea with 101st Airborne Division, retiring as Staff Sargent


  • Received Wall of Honor designation at Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, July 4, 2016


  • Active member, past president, Tonawanda VFW Frontiersman Post 7545


  • Member of Brighton Volunteer Fire Company in Tonawanda for 60 years


  • Honored for “exceptional courage, initiative and loyal commitment to duty” for actions in saving a life during house fire in 1968


  • Worked at American Brass Company for 44 years, retiring in 1985

Paul Kinsey

Paul Kinsey, January 2019 Read More

  • Paul Kinsey, City of Tonawanda


  • U.S. Army – 1986-1990


  • Served at Fort Monmouth with 235th Signal Detachment in tactical satellite communications


  • Member of 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Stanley in Korea, Fort Benning with 36th Engineer Group, 43rd Engineer Battalion


  • Awarded Good Conduct Medal, two Army Achievement Medals with oak leaf, Advanced Training Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Award, NCO Professional Development Ribbon


  • Worked at Buffalo VA Hospital as nursing assistant in psychiatric/mental health units


  • Former Native American program manager with Buffalo VA


  • Member of several veterans and civic organizations, including Cherokee/Blackfeet Cultural Circle, AMVETS Post 1925

George Ross

George Ross, December 2018 Read More

  • George R. Ross, Angola, NY


  • Served in U.S. Army for three years, served in Vietnam 1969-1970


  • Served in National Guard for 11 years, 206th MP Company, as well as Army Reserves


  • Awarded three Bronze Star Service Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal


  • Teaching school children history of American flag since 1976, recites Veteran’s Day poems at local ceremonies since 1988


  • Volunteer fire policeman, Evans Center Volunteer Fire Department

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