The “Our Community Salutes” Brookhaven Chapter held its third annual High School Enlistee Recognition Ceremony at Sunset Harbour on May 18, 2017, the largest ceremony yet for the new Brookhaven chapter. Approximately 270 people consisting of the student honorees, members of their families, Blue Star mothers, veterans, community members and elected officials came out to be “the first to say thank you” to the students for the service they are about to undertake. Students from six local school districts including William Floyd, Longwood, Patchogue-Medford, Center Moriches, Eastport-South Manor and South Country were recognized. William Floyd has 12 seniors enlisting after graduation this year – the most of the school districts participating.
“It was an honor for the Our Community Salutes Brookhaven Town chapter committee to honor and recognize more than 40 high school seniors and their families for their shared sacrifice and their courageous decision to serve in our Nations Armed forces after graduation,” said Robert Vecchio, President, William Floyd Board of Education and Co-chair of Our Community Salutes Brookhaven Town.
Guest speakers for the evening included Major General Troy D. Kok, U.S. Army and Command Sergeant Major Michele S. Jones (the ninth person to achieve this rank and the first woman). NYS Senator Tom Croci, on behalf of the Tom and Jo Ann Croci Foundation, awarded three $1,000 scholarships for uniform and travel allowance to three enlistees – Carlie Wegley and Saniya Joyner of William Floyd and Samantha Braband of Patchogue-Medford.
The third General Colin L. Powell Service award was given to Colonel Robert Atkinson, US Air Force, and instructor of the Patchogue-Medford Air Force JROTC. The award is in recognition for outstanding service and commitment to students who enlist in the military after graduation. William Floyd High School Senior Naval Science Instructor Commander Jay Tweed received the inaugural award and his colleague, Senior Chief Dwight Becherer received it the following year.
In addition to receiving an “Our Community Salutes” Challenge Coin, the honorees received certificates, proclamations, flags and more as a token of appreciation. The William Floyd High School Building Trades & Construction Academy also created picture frame keepsakes for the honorees for the occasion.
William Floyd graduating senior enlistees include: Alejandro Freire and Robert Napodano enlisting in the Army; Saniya Joyner and Quincy Morgenstond enlisting in the Navy; and Christopher Ballas, Shane Hobel, Freddy Kaucky, Matt Lovett, Andrew Passaro, Steven Rice, Vinny Roxburgh and Carlie Wegley enlisting in the Marine Corps.
Members of the Our Community Salutes Brookhaven Town Chapter Committee include:
Robert Vecchio, Co-Chair, President of the William Floyd Board of Education; Jill Gross, Co-Chair; Beth Wahl, President of the William Floyd Community Summit, Committee Member; Philip Scotto, William Floyd High School Principal, Committee Member; Deb Gurney, William Floyd High School Assistant Principal; Jay M. Tweed, CDR/USN (Ret.), Committee Member; Robert Guerriero, William Floyd Board of Education Trustee, Committee Member; and Christine Rignola, Trustee, Patchogue-Medford Board of Education, Committee Member.
Special thanks to the sponsors whom without them this event would not be possible. Freedom Level sponsors: DiCarlo Food Services and Island Outreach Foundation; Patriot Level sponsors: Empire National Bank, NYS Senator Tom Croci and Seafield Services; Eagle Level sponsors: Bond, Schoeneck & King; Brookhaven Town elected officials Supervisor Ed Romaine and Council members Dan Panico, Michael LoGuercio and Neil Foley; and William Floyd United Teachers; Commander Level sponsors: Colonel (Ret) Geoffrey and Deborah Slack; Century 21 Cor Ace Realty and Ace Builders; LCPL Scott Amato, USMC; Lion’s Club of Patchogue; Mastic Beach Ambulance Company; Mastic-Shirley Chamber of Commerce; Mr. and Mrs. Bob Miller; Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers; South Country Ambulance Company; and the William Floyd Alumni Association, as well as Shawn Schwab for providing picture keepsakes for each family.
Please see additional photos from the evening and an NBC News report below!