Assemblyman Schmitt Hosts His Inaugural 99th Assembly District Veterans Hall Of Fame

Washingtonville, NY -- (11/18/19) Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt (R,C,I-New Windsor) held his inaugural 99th Assembly District Veterans Hall of Fame at the Orange County Emergency Services Center this evening. Assemblyman Schmitt founded the 99th Assembly District Veterans Hall of Fame Program and Traveling Wall of Honor in order to highlight the sacrifices made by the brave veteran heroes and role models throughout the 99th district.

With an overflowing crowd, Assemblyman Schmitt inducted sixteen individual veterans and one veteran’s organization. Assemblyman Schmitt presented each with an Assembly proclamation honoring their service to our country and a formal 99th Assembly District Challenge Coin. During the event, Assemblyman Schmitt also paid special tribute to the late Senator William J. Larkin, Jr. for his service to our community, state and nation.

All inductees from this event will have their courageous stories below featured on the newly constructed traveling Wall of Honor that will travel to various locations throughout the district over the next year. The traveling Wall of Honor was constructed through partnerships with the Carpenters Union Local 279 and the Laborers Union Local 17.

Assemblyman Schmitt is proud to announce his inaugural class of Veterans’ Hall of Fame inductees:

Town of Blooming Grove: Andrew Morris, Army National Guard

Andrew Morris joined the Army National guard on October 20th, 1988. Andrew started his military career in Fort Knox, Kentucky in M60 A3 Tanks training. He traveled to the Republic of Kosovo in 2001 as a member of the 101st Airborne 716th Military Police battalion. He first served on Abraham M1 tanks in storms, hurricanes and devastated areas. Then he became a squad leader and served as personal security for a colonel. He received a medal for his campaign in the Republic of Kosovo and even met President Bush on a trip overseas.

During his National Guard career, he started in the NYC corrections division in 1996 and shortly after joined the NYPD. This is where he served as an officer until he transferred to the Walden Police Department and retired in 2014. He was a 9/11 First Responder and has shown true valor in every aspect.

Andrew is the recipient of two purple hearts. He is the son of a Military Missile Man and the grandson of a WWII tanker. Today, he resides in the Town of Blooming Grove.

Town of Chester: Thomas Simmons, USMC

Thomas Simmons enlisted into the United States Marine Corps in January of 1951 and served 40 years before retiring on August 31st, 1991. He served his first three active years at Parris Island, Camp Pendleton and was eventually sent to Korea. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and served a second term at a naval air station in California. He finally came to Stewart Airbase and went into the reserves.

After settling at Stewart, he moved right here to the Town of Chester. He got involved in the Chester Ambulance Corps, served 26 years in the Fire department and is a volunteer at the NYC Fire Museum. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and I’m told can be found at the Rec center often playing cards and talking with his many friends.

Thomas is 88 years old and has 5 children. One of his son’s serves as a United States Marine today.

Village of Chester: Edward Joseph Szulwach, U.S. Navy

Edward Joseph Szulwach, better known as EJ, enlisted in the United States Navy on December 6,1950. His first post was serving on the USS Orion. He served on this vessel for just over 2 years where he traveled the Atlantic, North Atlantic, Carribean and Meditarrian Seas. After he was sent to key West, FL to Fleet Sonar School where he was awarded 3 medals for his achievements and was then transferred to the USS Hawkins. EJ left the US Navy on September 10th, 1954 after receiving the proud rank of Sonarman First Class.

After leaving the Navy, EJ returned home to Chester. Growing up on a local farm, he started work with the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company where he inspected fresh fruits and vegetables. From there he became a banker and served in both Chester National and Key Bank for 31 years. Aside from his professional career he has volunteered in the Chester Kiwanis club for over 40 years. He’s served as club president multiple times and even State Lt. Governor for the association.

EJ first planted his roots with his late wife in 1929 in Chester. He still resides there today.

Town of Cornwall: Daniel Clarino, USMC

Daniel Clarino had foreseen the likelihood of being drafted and took that step himself to enlist into the United States Marine Corps in the Fall of 1965. Not long after Parris Island basic training and advanced combat training, Dan was sent to Vietnam where he joined Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines at the Demilitarized Zone. In the Summer of 1966, Dan was awarded two Purple Hearts. The first Purple Heart was due to a shrapnel wound Dan suffered literally between his eyes during Operation Hastings. Six weeks later Dan's unit was reduced as a fighting force because of the loss of combatants on the Demilitarized Zone. His unit was then sent to Da Nang, Vietnam for lighter duty. It turned out not to be lighter at all. The second Purple Heart was awarded in Da Nang after Dan was shot by a sniper and the bullet passed through his lower body and exited out his back.

After recovering, when Dan returned home he started his career as a real estate broker. He is the President of RE/MAX Benchmark Realty with three offices in Orange County. He is a Current Board member of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Mission and a Former Board member and President of Habitat for Humanity of Newburgh as well. He was Awarded the RE/MAX International Distinguished Service Award in 2016. Dan is proud to be only one of four honorees out of 12,000 agents worldwide.

Dan is a proud resident of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson.

Town of Goshen: Richard Grabowski, U.S. Army

Richard Grabowski, better known as Richie, is a United States Army Vietnam Combat Veteran who volunteered to push up his draft and enlist in the United States Army on November 29th, 1965 at the age of 19. After basic training at Fort Hood, Texas, he was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. From September 1966 until his discharge on September 24th, 1967, he served with the 15th Engineering Battalion in Vietnam. Richie is a Disabled American Veteran suffering from Agent Orange related exposure.Richie graduated early at 16 from St John's Prep in Brooklyn. He continued with his education and received a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from the New York Institute of Technology using his VA benefits. Upon his safe return home from Vietnam, Richie continued his life of service with the New York City Police Department. He married his wife Margaret and moved to Goshen in 1971. After 20 years of marriage he lost his wife Margaret on September 3, 1991.

Richie has been a resident of Goshen for 48 years, where he raised his 3 children. Richie retired from the NYPD and soon after married his wife of 22 years, Beverly. Richie was the president of the Goshen Youth League for 6 years in the 1980’s. He coached girls’ softball and soccer and boy’s baseball and soccer. He received the Disabled Veteran of the Year from Chapter 212 in the Township of Goshen.

Village of Goshen: Joseph Donovan, U.S. Army

Joseph Donovan, or Joe, is a Veteran of World War II. He was drafted into the United States Army during his senior year or High School and was subsequently awarded his diploma 6 months early. He left right here from the Goshen Train station to go off and fight for his country. In 1943, Joe was drafted to the Camp Edwards Army Base. He traveled from bases in North Carolina to California to Texas and finally he was sent to Granada. After he was sent to Luxembourg, France where he fought in the The Battle of the Bulge. He left the Army in December 1944 as a corporal and returned right back to Goshen.

When Joe made it home, it did not take him long to get involved. He jumped right into his father's Funeral business and in 1969 took over the family operation. He retired from the business in the 90’s and took his service to even greater levels. He is a former town board member, former village zoning board director and former President of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce. I say former because Joe has definitely done his part and is enjoying a wonderful retirement in a place he’s certainly proud to call home. Joe is a lifelong resident of Goshen and is the father of three kids. His eldest son serves today as the US Ambassador to Indonesia.

Town of Hamptonburgh: Carl Crist, U.S. Navy

Carl Crist is a World War II Veteran and a member of the Greatest Generation having grown up during the Great Depression and subsequently fighting in World War II. Carl began his United States Navy and Navy Reserves career on October 1st, 1945. He proudly served his country for 8 years until June 27th, 1954. He received the American Theatre Medal and the Victory Medal. Carl went on to become a firefighter and is a lifetime member of Otterkill Engine Company. He has proudly served as the Secretary of Fire Commissioners Office for over 50 years.

Aside from Carl’s dedication to the Fire Department, he also joined the Rural Mail Carriers in 1950. He was the second mail carrier in the family, first was his father. Carl also acts as the Superintendent of Hamptoburgh Cemetery for the past 30 years. Carl was born in Campbell Hall and has lived there his entire life. He is the proud father to his daughter Sue Ellen, 12 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. He loves telling stories about Campbell Hall’s history.

Town of Highlands: John Joseph Flynn, U.S. Army

John Flynn enlisted into the United States Army on September 28, 2007. He has served in the global war on terror and has received many recognitions for his service. He has received the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement medal, the National Defense Service medal and the Combat Action medal. Needless to say: when the town found out there was an award, there was not much question on who was deserving. John completed his service on March 15th, 2010.

When John came home to Highlands he got involved right away. He taught Special Education at James O’Neill High School and coached varsity cross country and outdoor track and Field. John also served as commander of the American Legion post 633 where he served with the utmost valor. John lives to this day with his family in the Town of Highlands.

Village of Highland Falls: Joseph Gregory Lowrey, U.S. Army

Joseph Lowrey served 12 years in the United States Army. He enlisted in 2003 and received a medical retirement in 2015. He served in Afghanistan as Sergeant First Class. He also served as a special forces engineer with the 7th special forces group and the 5th special forces group.

Joe sustained a gunshot wound to the head during combat in July 2014. Joe survived and was awarded the purple heart after spending a month in a coma. He was then sent to Palo Alto, California for rehab where he still is to this day. Before Joe left for the service, he was born and raised in the Village of Highland Falls.

Joe is a true American Hero and inspiration. Although Joe could not attend the ceremony, his proud mother Darlene and Village of Highland Falls Mayor Joe D’Onofrio accepted the award on his behalf.

Town of New Windsor: George Reilly, USMC

George Reilly was born in Brooklyn and enlisted into the United States Marine Corps after he graduated High school early at the age of 18 years old. He followed his older brother into the Marines and was initially sent to Parris Island. George was promoted to Private First Class and then sent for morse code training in Cherry Point, North Carolina. He worked in the Provost Marshal's office and received the Marine of the Year award. Then he was sent to Iwakuni, Japan in January, 1963. George served there as a Helicopter Gunner until he came home in February, 1964.

When he came home, George worked for Con-Ed until becoming an officer in the NYPD. He served in the South Bronx, Narcotics and Homicide squad later reaching detective and retiring in July, 1987. But retiring from the NYPD didn't stop george. He volunteers to this day at 9 Johnson homeless shelter in Newburgh, serves as the Senior vice chair of the 1161 VFW post and is a member of the Catholic War Veterans.

George married Donna, whom he met on a blind date. They’ve been married 53 ½ years and they have 3 children and 8 Grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Village of South Blooming Grove: James Mullany, U.S. Army

James Mullany, or Jim, is a disabled United States Army Vietnam Combat Veteran. He was drafted in 1969 while he was a trainee at the NYPD. He served overseas as a Helicopter Door Gunner responsible for the safe transport of troops into and out of battle. He was attached to the 115 heli group and left the service in July 1971. Upon his safe return home, he resumed his employment and life of service with the New York City Police Department where he retired as one of New York’s Finest.

Jim is an upstanding citizen of the Village of South Blooming Grove where he has lived for 41 years. He is an active volunteer within the community. He was instrumental in the formation of the village and has served as a Trustee on the Village Board since 2006. He was also the first Deputy Mayor. He was a charter member of the South Blooming Grove Homeowners’ Association and member for 25 years. Jim is very involved in the annual holiday celebrations in the community, most notably Santa’s annual ride through the village. He is always in attendance at the village’s annual Community Day, helping wherever needed. Jim and his wife Maureen are the proud owners of Maureen Mullany’s Pub in Goshen and are huge supporters of their community.

Town of Stony Point: Alan Dagistino, U.S. Army

Alan Dagistino began his United States Army service in 1966. He is a Vietnam Veteran who served as Sergeant E-5 of the 3rd Brigade stationed in Lai Khe, Vietnam from 1967-1968. He then was stationed in Hanoi, Vietnam with the 881st company in 1969. He completed his active service in 1969, but he had been serving his country here at home for most of his adult life. He started as a junior member of the Charles R. Lewis VFW Post 8997 before active duty. Alan served in various roles at the VFW such as Junior Vice President and Sergeant of the Honor Guard. His father was also a lifetime member of the VFW Post.Alan is a Charter Member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 333 in Rockland County where he was the President for 2 years, Vice President for 2 years, Sergeant of the Honor Guard and is currently serving as an Executive Board Member. He has also been a member of the Kearsing Edwards American Legion Post 1600 in Pomona for 10 years.

Village of Washingtonville: David Pritchard, U.S. Air Force

David Pritchard has served in the United States Air Force since the 1980’s. Dave has had an incredibly distinguished career serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and even as a first responder at Ground Zero. Dave has received over 20 highly decorated awards, including the Bronze Star medal which is the fourth highest military honor that can be received in the United States. Most notably, Dave was assigned Senior Enlisted Leader of the 455th Expeditionary Squadron in Afghanistan where he led 1,200 soldiers, contractors and Airmen. He protected 220 miles of Base security zone and led the successful execution of 830 combat missions.

While serving, he also worked as a Part-time police officer for Fishkill and Washingtonville Dave recently retired from the Village of Washingtonville PD after serving for 20 years. Dave now works for the General Services Administration. Dave is definitely the kind of person that will always serve as long as he’s able. Dave is happily married to his wife Lianne and they have four children right here in Orange County.

Town of Wawayanda: Alfred Pierce, U.S. Army

Alfred Pierce, known as Al, enlisted into the United States Army in January, 1961. He was sent to Fort Dix, NJ and multiple other training sites to be trained in Heavy Equipment Operation. He even made the title of Specialist 4. He was then sent to Nuremberg, Germany where he served a Good Will mission between wars. He told me of just some of the things he did. Among these things he: made ski runs, built soccer fields and even built roads. He returned home in December of 1962.

When Al returned home to Wawayanda he met his now wife, Theresa and even though she was from the other side of the Wallkill River, he has loved her to this day. He worked in a long career as a well driller and after he retired did more volunteer work than his actual job required. He served on the town's recreation committee, he coached Little League as his boys grew up, Served in both the Knights of Columbus and Elks Clubs. He even serves to this day as travel coordinator for his Slate Hill Pacers group. His town recognizes him as still serving as a Town Court Bailiff today and more importantly, his coordination of both the Town’s Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day parade. He has done this and so much more his entire good willed life. Al still resides in his hometown with his wife and former town clerk, Theresa. They’ve raised their two boys and have been happily married for 53 years.

Town of Woodbury: William Doyle, U.S. Army

William was born in Monroe in 1932 and joined the United States Army on December 8th, 1952. William was first stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. He started on a Military softball league in College Park. William served in the 101st Airborne Division in charge of the defense of major cities during the Cold War. He was later discharged on December 7th, 1954. When he came home, he got to work right away. He started at Grand Union and immediately became the store’s assistant manager. After, he went onto Palisades Interstate Park Association starting as a maintenance man all the way up to Park Supervisor.

Even during his home and work schedule, he continued to serve his community always. He is a 57 year member of the Woodbury American Legion. He’s a past Master at the mason’s lodge in Woodbury and hosts the Highland mills United methodist church’s veterans events. George married his late wife in 1959 and they have two children together. William lives in the town of Woodbury to this day.

Village of Woodbury: Kenneth Smith, U.S. Army

Kenneth Smith enlisted into the United States Army on December 13th 1967. Ken received Initial Infantry training at Fort Dix, NJ. After, he was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington where he received specialized training and earned the Expert rifle Award. In January of 1968, Ken’s Unit was sent to the Korean peninsula at the time of the USS Pueblo Crisis and stayed to fight the aggression of North korea. When he returned home, for his courage he was awarded the Korea Defense Service Medal, Armed forces expeditionary medal and National Defense Service medal.

When Ken came home, he and his wife moved to Highland Mills where he has been a beacon of service to his community and active in the American Legion Post 779. During his retirement, he still serves as a state rep, legion treasurer and scouting rep. He was the Grand Marshall and Legion of the year in May of 2012. He also coached Baseball from Little League all the way to Senior League and is actively involved in the Woodbury Community Association. Ken has been married to his loving wife Susan and they have raised two sons right here in a place that he is proud to call home.

District Organization Nominee: Catholic War Veterans Post 386

The Catholic War Veterans Post 386 was chartered in 1988, with Joseph Farina as the Charter Commander. It started with 102 charter members and held its monthly meetings at the Sacred Heart School in Newburgh, NY. Their motto “For God, for country, for home” has always been their way of serving.Today, they are the largest Catholic War Veterans post in the State of New York. The group meets once a month at the Activity Center at the New Windsor Town Hall Complex. The War Veterans are a high profile Post with 17 United States Military Academy Cadets included in the membership. They have awarded scholarships to students at Sacred Heart School and Bishop Dunn School in Newburgh. They give financial support to the Orange County Veteran’s Food Pantry and to the National Wheelchair Games and participate in Memorial Services throughout the region as well as the New Windsor Memorial Day Parade and the General Montgomery Day Parade. The Catholic War Veterans also have several ongoing programs to assist all veterans.

Assemblyman Colin J. Schmitt stated, “I am honored to be able to host this inaugural Veterans’ Hall of Fame event to pay respect to our heroes who have dedicated their lives to defending our freedoms, protecting our country and serve our community. The 99th Assembly District is home to many veterans that have incredible stories to tell about their courage, sacrifice and bravery. That is why I founded the 99th Assembly District Veterans’ Hall of Fame and Traveling Wall of Honor to showcase all the inductees who deserve our praise and thanks not just today, but everyday. The Wall of Honor will travel to various locations throughout the district to showcase what real role models looks like and share local stories of service above self. God Bless all veterans who have bravely served.”

Colin Schmitt is committed to public service. Colin is a member of the U.S. Army National Guard and Assemblyman for the 99th NYS Assembly District which includes the Town of Stony Point in Rockland County and The Towns of Wawayanda, Goshen, Hamptonburgh, Chester, Blooming Grove, New Windsor, Cornwall, Highlands and Woodbury in Orange County. Colin lives in the Town of New Windsor with his wife Nikki and their beloved adopted Catahoula puppy Quincy!