BRISTOL – The 9th Annual Salute Dinner Saturday at Nuchie’s was a “superb” night, according to organizers as veterans honored students entering the military and imparted them with words of wisdom.
“All in all it was very well received by everybody in attendance,” said Art Ward, of the Bristol Veterans Council, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1969 and was in Vietnam from November 1967 to November 1968. He is also a Purple Heart recipient.
Enlistees received a plaque, a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly and a red, white and blue tassel to wear with their cap and gown at graduation as well as gift bags.
Ward, who is also a former mayor, said emcee Al Terzi shared the story of how he served as an interpreter during the Korean War. Tim Gamache of the Bristol Veterans Council, who also helped to organize the event, was a guest speaker.
Gamache served in the Navy Seabees from 1967 to 1970, serving in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969, and was in the Army Reserve from 1980 to 1997. He was an Army drill sergeant from 1982 to 1991.
“Tim’s overall message was that the recruits were going to be part of a team,” said Ward. “They might go in anxious and not knowing what to expect, but they will develop throughout their service. The day they graduate, they will be able puff their chests out a bit more with the pride that was instilled within them.”
Before the dinner began, Ward and Gamache also stopped at each table to personally speak to the recruits.
“We wanted to welcome them into the fold and give them an idea of what it was going to be like,” he said. “Some of the advice I gave was to pay attention, follow orders and at the same time get into the mindset that you are all part of a team.”
Ward has said previously that the purpose of the Salute Dinner is to show gratitude for those who are entering the military.
“There is no draft anymore, we have an all-volunteer military, so we want to recognize those who have chosen to serve and the commitment they are making.”
Gamache has also said previously that the dinner is helpful to parents. They may come to the event with a feeling of trepidation that their children are entering the military, but they come away understanding that the recruits will receive a lot of support from the city and the veteran community.
“Their choice does not go unnoticed and is very much appreciated,” he said.
The Bristol Veterans Council also presented the Community Award to the Bristol Senior Center staff during the dinner.
“They provide a lot of programs for senior veterans that give them a sense of dignity and ways to stay busy,” said Gamache.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following recruits were honored during the Salute Dinner:
. Cody R. Lozier – U.S. Army
. Hannah Duffany – U.S. Army
. Connor Feeny Wallace – U.S. Army
. Erik Flis – U.S. Army
. Jason Mills – U.S. Army
. Chad Varkal – U.S. Army
. Hunter Holley – Connecticut National Guard
. Devonte Elliot – Connecticut National Guard
. Owen Calverley – Connecticut National Guard
. Donovan Carey – U.S. Navy
. Evan Day – U.S. Navy
. Aaron Goldberg – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Cody Plourde – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Nick LaChance – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Xavier Teakley – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Tanner Lavoie – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Joshua Perezochoa – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Jared Greger – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Benjamin Wadowski – U.S. Marine Corps
. Christopher Noheimer – U.S. Marine Corps.
.Kevin Coleman – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Kenneth Richardson – U.S. Marine Corps.
The following honorees from Wolcott will be honored during a separate ceremony, as there as a conflict with the Wolcott senior prom.
. Conor Allen Gibbons – U.S. Army
. Morgan Lynn Emond – U.S. Army
. Joseph Allen Bly – U.S. Army
. Samantha Pais Luis – U.S. Army
. John McCloskey – U.S. Army
. Mdfardeen Yussouf – U.S. Marine Corps.
. Andrew Damico – U.S. Marine Corps.