U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-South Buffalo, recently named nine residents to serve as members of his Service Academy Advisory Committee.
Appointees met recently to interview students applying to a military academy and make recommendations to Higgins.
"It is an honor to have dedicated, local veterans willing to donate their time and expertise to review and recommend the next generation of American military leaders," Higgins said. "Western New York has an outstanding collection of bright and talented young students who will represent this community and serve this country well."
From left are James Raymond, Col. Patrick Cunningham, Steve Banko, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, Frank Clark, Darin Shulz, Capt. Jordan Then, Geoff Szymanski, and Jerry Irving.
Members of this year's committee include:
Jerry Irving: A commander in the U.S. Navy with 25 years of experience; a "Blue and Gold" officer for the Naval Academy; directed the Naval Systems Business Unit at Moog for over 20 years;
Frank Clark: A member of the Marine Corp; Korean War veteran; and former Erie County district attorney;
James Raymond: Army Specialist and University at Buffalo graduate who served in Afghanistan;
Col. Patrick Cunningham: Served in the Army for 30 years; Vietnam veteran; received the Legion of Merit and four other awards for service; served as director of Naval Park for 18 years;
Bill Greeley: retired Veteran Affairs liaison for Higgins;
Hon. Geoff Szymanski: served in the Navy as a machinist and is Lackawanna mayor;
Darin Shulz: Served in the U.S. Navy for six years; deployed overseas to South America, Mediterranean and West Africa; received numerous achievement medals while active; currently executive director of the State University at Fredonia FSA;
Capt. Jordan Then: Marine officer since 2004 who was promoted to captain in 2008; an Iraq War veteran; member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve serving as recruiting support officer for Marine Corps Recruiting Station Buffalo;
Steve Banko: Served in the Army's 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam; recipient of four Purple Hearts, four Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and a 35-year career in public service including 12 as the field office director for HUD in Buffalo.