Students entering military service to be honored at dinner

Published on Wednesday, 3 May 2017 20:56


BRISTOL - The Bristol Veterans Council will salute high school students preparing to enter the military May 19 at the annual Salute Dinner at Nuchie’s.

Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and the main proceedings will begin at 5 p.m. at the restaurant at 164 Central St. The dinner is intended to honor the young men and women graduating from area schools for their decision to serve their country.

Al Terzi, an Air Force intelligence veteran, will emcee the event this year as he has done in many years past.

This year’s guest speaker is Michael Heimbach of ESPN, a U.S. Army veteran who later served in the FBI for 20 years. He is currently the vice president of global security and facilities operations at ESPN and is the father of a currently serving marine. Russ Trudel, chair of the Bristol Veterans Council, said that he is an “excellent gentleman” whose experience will be beneficial to both the students and their parents at the dinner.

“In past years we have seen parents go through a range of emotions; happiness, sadness, pride, worry, and we haven’t really addressed this,” said Trudel. “Tim has stood in both sets of shoes, as someone who himself served and as a parent of someone who is serving.”

Additionally, area musician Greg O’Brien will sing his song “’Cause We’re Americans” at the dinner. Trudel commented on O’Brien’s song on YouTube, inviting him to perform at the dinner, saying that it would be “a treat” and “very fitting.” O’Brein replied that he was “very familiar” with the dinner and used to do voiceover work at ESPN.

Trudel thanked Tim Gamache, who organized the event in the past, for being “a great source of knowledge” as well as Donna Dognin of the Veteran Strong Center, who he said is “excellent” and does a lot to help the community.

He also thanked Nuchie’s for being supportive of their efforts in hosting the event every year and has asked other area businesses either provide donations to help curb the cost of the event or donate “swag bags” to give to the recruits.

“It is such an honor for me to be able to be part of team that shows recognition to all these young recruits who are making a step into their futures and a step into adulthood,” said Trudel. “They are all heroes just for making that first step into their service by putting on the uniform of this great nation.”

Trudel said he plans to extend the Bristol Veterans Council’s support of the young servicemen and women honored at the Salute Dinner by reaching out to them when they return on leave to welcome them home.

“I recently met with someone we honored at last year’s salute dinner, Joel Boder, and his parents at the American Legion in Terryville,” he said. “He told me that he had been stationed to serve in Hawaii for three years. I have known him since he was in diapers and now he has gone into the Army reserves. It was an honor to get to know the next generation that is taking on the roles that we veterans once served. If they follow through and do honorable service, some may stay in the service but others may come back to become future community leaders.”

Trudel said that, among this year’s recruits, there are several others that he has known since they were young children. Namely, Nicholas Ratta, who is going into the Air Force and Jared Lacko who is entering into the Army. Trudel said that he wishes all of the recruits success in their ventures.

This year’s honorees

 Jadon Amaez, Marines

 Jasmine Applegate, Navy

 Ethan Cote, Army

 Mark Krawiec, Air Force Academy

 Thomas Nelligan, Army

 Nicholas Ratta, Air Force

 Olivia Savino, Connecticut National Guard

 Haden Sundgren, Army

 Brendan Varnum, Marines

 Casey Adams, Marines

 Derek Armstrong, Army

 Harrison Dayton, Marines

 J. Wyatt Doyon, Army

 Francis Flood, Marines

 Adrian Garcia, Air Force

 Michael Grabowski, Connecticut National Guard

 Lindsay Hoyt, Army

 Zachary Sassu, Army

 Jairol Feliz, Air Force

 Terian Guerra, Marines

 Jaedon Jones, Marines

 Celeste Matta, Army

 Kyle Ross, Army

 Makayla Morring, Army

 Jared Smith, Navy

 Robert “Matt” Gray, Army

 James Gianfredi, Navy

Nicholas Gizzi, Navy

 Jared Lacko, Army 

Evan Taylor, Navy

Tyler Troth, Army

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, Forestville, General News on Wednesday, 3 May 2017 20:56. Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2017 20:58.