Sen. Catharine Young, R Olean, was proud to participate with Seneca Nation officials and members of the local American Legion to present the New York State Medal for Merit to World War II veteran and past President of the Seneca Nation George Heron.
"As a member of the United States Navy, George Heron gave several years of his life in service to our country. Like all veterans, he is deserving of our respect and gratitude. I am pleased to congratulate George on earning this honor and thank him for his dedicated and distinguished service," Sen. Young said.
"I am also honored to call Mr. Heron my friend. He is a pillar of the community who has earned our respect and gratitude for all of his accomplishments," Sen. Young said.
Heron enlisted in the United States Navy in November of 1941 and served until his discharge in 1945. He achieved the rank of pharmacist mate first class during the war and was assigned to the United States Navy Amphibious Forces in campaigns in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific.
In recognition of his wartime efforts, Mr. Heron has received numerous commendations including the American Defense Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, the European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, and the Philippine Liberation Medal with two campaign stars for direct participation in the liberation of the Philippines from the military forces of Japan.
Heron served as Seneca Nation president for two terms in 1958 and 1962 and has also distinguished himself as a dedicated and substantial contributor to the Seneca Nation as an historian, linguist, and teacher. He is a member of the Iroquois National Museum Board of Directors, representative to the New York State Department of Aging and leader of the Iroquois Agricultural Society.
Heron is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also is a member and past Commander of American Legion Hughes-Skiba Post 535 and serves as the events coordinator for Seneca veterans of World War II.
For the past 50 years, he has helped organize and manage the Jimersontown Presbyterian Church's annual Indian Foods Dinner and provides the dinner's annual invocation in the Seneca language.
The Medal For Merit is awarded to current New York State residents, or those who were New York State citizens at the time of their service, who served honorably in the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard and whose service was in direct support of combat operations.