Sen. Alesi Presents New York States Highest Military Awards To Local Vietnam Vet

James S. Alesi

May 18, 2008

Congressman Randy Kuhl (R-Hammondsport), Senator Jim Alesi (R-Perinton), and Assemblyman Joe Errigo (R,C-Conesus), were joined by members of the American Legion Ely-Fagan Post 1151 today to host a special ceremony to present Mr. Timothy Walter Tysall, a local Vietnam veteran, with military awards sanctioned by the United States of America, and by the State of New York. Awards presented included the Presidential Unit Citation, New York State Conspicuous Service Star, and the Medal for Merit.

"This award exemplifies the service, sacrifice, and courage of Mr. Tysall, a man who put his country before himself and answered the call when his nation needed him most," said Rep. Kuhl. "Mr. Tysall served his country with pride, with honor, and with bravery, and there is nothing more noble than a person who is willing to commit himself to a cause as important as defending our country."

"There is no greater satisfaction in my job as a legislator than when I am able to honor a man or woman who has served in the military. I am always humbled to be in the presence of brave veterans who selflessly served our country in order to protect the freedoms that we, as a nation, enjoy today," said Senator Alesi. " It is important that citizens, young and old, understand the significance of what Mr. Tysall and the members of his unit did for our nation. In presenting these medals, I hope to further honor their contributions."

"As Memorial Day approaches, men such as Mr. Tysall remind us just how important it is to remember the living, but also to remember those who have given the greatest sacrifice of all," said Assemblyman Errigo. "Although no medals may be able to fully show our appreciation for the bravery and honor with which Mr. Tysall has served, it is my hope that this small act will somehow make a difference in Mr. Tysall’s life but also in the lives of all those who have had the privilege of knowing him."

Mr. Tysall was a member of the Navy's Observation Squadron Sixty-Seven (VO-67), an elite and highly classified unit which existed for just a little over a year, a total of 500 days, from February 1967 to July 1968. The VO-67's primary mission was to detect, classify, hinder and penalize the North Vietnamese Army infiltration into the South. As Navy flight crews search for and track submarines in our world's oceans, VO-67 would search the sea of green jungle in Laos and Vietnam for truck and troop movements south along the famous "Ho Chi Minh Trail". The dangerous air space above the trail, "The Hard Air", was regarded as one of the most heavily defended areas in the Vietnam War.

Over the course of the year the VO-67 squadron implanted several thousand "Acoubuoys" (electronic listening devices) along the trail. These devices, originally used to detect submarines, were camouflaged jungle green and parachuted into the jungle, snagged in the top jungle canopy, and hung unseen in the tree tops. This technology allowed the United States military to monitor and pinpoint traffic along the trail.

The squadron has also been cited for its intense aerial support of the Marine base at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, during the 1968 Tet Offensive. VO-67 implanted sensor fields around the base that was under siege by over 20,000 enemy troops supported by tanks and anti-aircraft weapons. Marines at the base believe their casualties would have been double had the sensors not been used. In 2005 the enlisted combat flight crews of VO-67 were awarded the silver "Combat Aircrew Wings" by the Marine Corps.

Since his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Kuhl has been a strong champion for veterans, working to ensure that they receive the health care and benefits they deserve. Specifically, he has introduced the Mandatory Funding for Veterans Act, which provides for an assured level of funding for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) each year, thereby putting an end to the year-to-year uncertainty that prevents the VHA from being able to meet the growing needs of veterans.

Additionally, Congressman Kuhl has been a proponent of expanded education and disability benefits for veterans. He joined many of his colleagues in introducing the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, which expands educational benefits offered to all veterans who have served since September 11, 2001, including National Guardsmen and Reservists. He has also called upon the Department of Veterans Affairs and the House Committee on Appropriations to reduce the existing backlog of veterans' disability claims, fighting for increased funding for additional personnel.

Since first elected as a State Legislator, Senator Alesi has championed many Veteran causes, including: regularly securing State funds for every VFW and American Legion Post in his district; renaming a portion of Macedon Center Road as the POW-MIA Memorial Highway; renaming a large portion of Route 441 as the Korean War Memorial Highway, and securing State funds used locally to build the Vietnam Memorial, the WWII Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial.

Most recently, Senator Alesi's bill to name the bridge over Scottsville-Chili Road (State Route 386) after Private First Class James E. Widener, who was declared Missing in Action when his helicopter crashed while on a mission to the Quang Tri Province in South Vietnam, was signed into law.

Additionally, Assemblyman Errigo has recently worked with his colleagues in the Assembly to aid veterans through a number of initiatives aimed at increasing educational and economic opportunities. Among these initiatives passed through the Assembly were bills aimed at providing the equivalent of four years undergraduate or three years graduate tuition for veterans who have served overseas since 1961, extending the $3 million annual allocation for Vietnam, Persian Gulf and Afghanistan Veterans' tuition assistance program, and increasing the number of jobs the state awards to disabled veterans, as well as increasing the number of state contracts given to businesses owned by veterans.

For more information about New York State’s military awards or photographs from the ceremony, please contact Senator Alesi’s district office by calling (585) 223-1800 or Assemblyman Errigo's office by calling (585) 334-5210.