ANSONIA — About 400 Naugatuck Valley veterans last week accepted Wartime Service Medals during a ceremony at the State Armory in Ansonia.
Those honored ranged from WWII military men all the way to recent veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
The Wartime Service Medal is awarded to veterans who were called into service while residing in Connecticut. The ceremony at the armory recognized veterans from Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby and Seymour.
State Representatives Theresa Conroy (D-Beacon Falls) and Linda Gentile (D-Ansonia) said they organized the ceremony after learning that many veterans had never been publicly recognized for their service. They hope to make the observance a biennial tradition.
Conroy, who sits on the legislature’s Veterans’ Committee, called the ceremony “long overdue,” adding, “Our freedom depends on the sacrifices of the men and women here today—and for those who are unable to be with us—and we can never do enough to say thank you for your service. This medal is a thank you from the entire state of Connecticut.”
The families of 37 deceased veterans received service medals posthumously.
“This is a nice way for the state to honor its wartime veterans,” said V.F.W. Beacon Falls Post 25 Commander Bruce Carlson, who served in the U.S. Navy on active duty and in the reserves for a combined 26 years, including in Iraq in 2005.
“It was a beautiful heartwarming ceremony seeing so many veterans from all the services being honored for the bravery and commitment they exhibited to preserve the freedoms we all experience today,” noted Beacon Falls First Selectman Susan Cable in a letter to Citizen’s News.
Conroy, a first-term state rep., has sponsored legislation ensuring that returning reserve forces and their dependents receive behavioral health services, waiving tuition at state colleges for National Guard members, and permitting relatives of armed forces members to receive Military Family Relief Fund grants to pay for essential goods or services, if paying for them is a hardship because of a family member’s service.
“I am working to make sure that we do more than just thank our veterans, but make sure that all of our returning veterans and their families are provided with the proper support they need,” she said.
Below is a list of Beacon Falls veterans who were honored for their service at the ceremony. Asterisks indicate deceased veterans, whose families accepted Wartime Service Medals in their stead.
U. SHERMAN AVERY *
MANUEL R. GANDARILLAS *
JOHN A. PETERSON *
JAMES WILLIAM WOODWARD