FREDONIA - The fifth annual Veterans Remembrance Ceremony and presentation of veteran scholarships/recognition awards will be held at State University at Fredonia starting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Williams Center Multipurpose Room.
University officials and community members gather each year to honor more than 23.4 million veterans and active duty military service men and women who fought to protect freedom and democracy as members of the Armed Forces.
"SUNY Fredonia truly holds a special regard for all veterans past and present," said Dr. Kevin Kearns, SUNY Fredonia interim provost, who will lead this year's ceremony.
Presentation of the 2012-13 Smith-Viggiani Veterans Scholarship Awards, established in 2012 by David F. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of National Fuel Gas Co. and a 1974 graduate of SUNY Fredonia, and his wife, Lucy Viggiani-Smith, a retired public school teacher and former Fredonia student.
The four recipients of this year's Smith-Viggiani Scholarships, each valued at $5,000, are:
Brittney Herbst, a freshman Dance major from Holland, N.Y., whose mother served in the military;
Daniel Rowe, a sophomore psychology and criminal justice major from Geneva, N.Y., who served in the U.S. Army;
Brittany Toapha, a junior early childhood/childhood education major from Monroe, N.Y., whose mother served in the military; and
Lori Dispenza, a senior psychology and criminal justice minor from Portland, N.Y., who served three consecutive enlistments totaling 12 years in the U.S. Army. She is a 1998 graduate of Brocton Central School.
The ceremony will also honor this year's SUNY Fredonia Veteran's Scholarship recipient, Mark Mackey. A senior computer science major and technician in the campus ResNet office, the Franklin, Pa. native retired from the U.S. Army as a first sergeant in October 2011. He enlisted in 1989, completed basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., and was trained as a fire support specialist, MOS 13F.
Mackey was the recipient of numerous military service awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He is married to the former Jennifer Daugherty, a Fredonia resident and SUNY Fredonia graduate.
Two special recognition awards will also be presented by Jeff Walter, catering manager of the Faculty Student Association, co-chair of SUNY Fredonia's Veterans Recognition Committee, and a reservist who has served 13 years in the U.S. Navy.
The Patriot Award will be given to Michael Proffer, director of dining services at FSA, for support of Walter during his recent deployment. Proffer arranged work schedules to accommodate Walter's absence when he was assigned to a Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron, which was on active duty from August 2011 to June 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in the Southern Arabian Gulf. Walter's unit provided essential anti-terrorism force protection for 225 high-value maritime assets. Darin Schulz, executive director of FSA and a former Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, will accept the award on behalf of Proffer.
An American flag, to be accepted by Interim Provost Kearns, will be dedicated to SUNY Fredonia by Walter.
Earlier this year, Victory Media, whose brands assist military personnel in the transition to civilian life, placed SUNY Fredonia on its 2013 Military Friendly Schools list, a recognition granted to the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools for their efforts to assist military service members, veterans and their spouses to ensure their success on campus.
SUNY Fredonia currently enrolls 20 student veterans who have 71 years of collective military service and employs 54 veterans who have provided 669 years of service to the university. FSA employs another five veterans who have 32 years of military service. All major branches of the military are represented on campus.
A SUNY Fredonia employee veteran's service list will be on display at the ceremony along with the SUNY Fredonia Veteran's Honor Roll.
A POW/MIA ceremonial table and flag setup in recognition of U.S. service men and women prisoners of war and missing in action will also be on display.
Dunkirk High School Junior ROTC cadets will participate in the ceremony in the presentation and retirement of the colors. Arthur Lewis, a graduate student from Manlius, N.Y., majoring in music performance, will sing the "Star Spangled Banner."
All campus and community members are welcome to attend the free event. A brief reception with light refreshments will be held after the ceremony.