David Abramowitz completed his career in the United States Army as a Colonel, logging a total of 31 years of service before his retirement. However, his service did not end when he took off his uniform. Col. Abramowitz went on to become a Regional Director for the Florida Department of Children and Families in Northeast Florida. While continuing to volunteer and help those around him, Mr. Abramowitz earned leadership roles at multiple volunteer organizations following his retirement. During his time in the U.S. Army was awarded two Bronze Stars, four Meritorious Service Medals, and numerous other decorations. He has held positions including 17th Aviation Brigade Commander, Commandant of the Sergeant Major's Academy, Chief of Staff for the Iraqi Assistance Group, and Inspector General of the U.S. Army Forces Command. The U.S. Army Forces command is the largest Army Command consisting of 750,000 soldiers as well as a $4.5 Billion operating budget. Mr. Abramowitz deployed twice to Korea and Iraq and served additional deployments to Kosovo and Afghanistan. Colonel Abramowitz demonstrates what it means to be a servant leader and displayed such character throughout his time in the U.S. Army and back into his now home and community in the State of Florida.
U.S. Navy Commander Dennis Baker is a published author, public speaker, volunteer, and 18-year Veteran of the United States Navy. Outside of the Navy, his resume includes but is not limited to, Administrator/Director of Flager College, Executive VP of First Coast Technical College, President of National Aviation Academy, and Florida Coordinator of Sunshine Kids Cancer Kid Foundation. As a Veteran, he received letters of appreciation for his work from multiple levels of government all the way up to the Governor and multiple local organizations. While actively serving, Commander Baker was recognized as Maintenance Officer of the Year, received three Navy Achievement Medals and Navy Commendation Medals. While serving with Fighter Squadron 33, Fighter Wing One, he was recognized as the Tactical Wings Atlantic Fleet Sailor of the Year. While he himself is being inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame now, he had the honor of nominating 15 other Veteran's in the past, once again demonstrating his continued dedication to not only the servicemen and women around him, but our Country as a whole.
Colonel John Bircher of the United States Army is a Purple Heart recipient and Special Forces Veteran. He is currently a member of the Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame and the Purple Heart Hall of Honor. Having resided in Florida for 21 years, Colonel Bircher continues to serve this State, fellow Veterans, and his community every day. During his 30-year Army career, the Bronze Star Veteran served in multiple command and staffing positions, including time as in Intel Officer for the 5th Special Forces group in Vietnam. As a decorated combat veteran fluent in multiple different languages, he was assigned jobs both collecting intel and working for Government agencies and various decision makers. After a fruitful career in the U.S. Army, assisting in Washington during Middle Eastern conflicts, retiring to the State of Florida was only the next step in what is a well dedicated life of endless service to Veterans, State, and country.
A dual recipient of the U.S. Military's third highest decoration, the Silver Star, Lt. Col David Craig enlisted in the United States Army in 1964. Commissioning as a 2nd LT and the Distinguished Military Graduate at Rutgers University, Craig served back-to-back combat tours immediately upon receiving his rank. Following his medical retirement, he went on to serve as the Executive Director of the U.S.O. Hawaii, extending his service to his country. Following his time with the U.S.O. Lt. Col Craig would go on to hold positions at Homeland Security, NASA, the National Guard, and more. Relocating to St. Augustine was not the end either, as the Lt. Col would go on to volunteer at numerous veteran-based organizations in his community. He would also go on to become the force behind "Veterans in the Classroom", a program perusing higher in classroom Veteran presence for the instruction of Civic related curriculum.
Veteran, author, and Professor are a few of the titles that Col. Ben Findley holds. The accolades and accomplishments in an out of service are admirable. His 30 years in the United States Air Force includes service in USAF Special Operations Command during the Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Desert Shield and Storm, Bosnia, and Restore Hope. His leadership noted his ability to demonstrate skills with remarkable depth and breadth, especially in the realm of Psychological Operations. He was also referred to as "the most talented of several reserve component officers, from all services". Following his services, Col. Findley would go on to serve as Academic Dean for the Pensacola State College School of Business from 1988 to 2003. His passion in Veteran's advocacy led him to his involvement with the Florida Veterans Foundation Board, the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, the Disabled Veterans of American and many more organizations. While accomplishing a long and prosperous career in and out of the Air Force, Col. Findley always stayed true to the veterans around him and across the country.
Brigadier General Michael Fleming served in the United States Marine Corps, Army and the Army National Guard. He was able to serve as the Assistant Adjutant General, Chief of Staff, Director of Operations, and more in the National Guard. He was a Congressional Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee. He would go on to be a founding member of Veterans on Wall Street, and founder himself of multiple different organizations. In total, General Fleming holds a dense 40 years of service to our country. He accomplished the rank of Sergeant in the Marine Corps before claiming the rank of Brigadier General in the Florida Army National Guard. Taking head on the pursuit to reduce Veteran's Suicides in Florida, helping those in crisis, and being a pillar in his community, General Fleming's serviced did not end when he left the United States Military. He continues to serve all around him and keep the Veteran community, here in Florida, on the march forward.
Colonel Robert Ham served in the United States Army for over a quarter of a century until 1995. He held multiple leadership positions at the United States Military Academy at West Point preceding his retirement. During his 26 years with the U.S. Army, Col. Ham served with the U.S. Army Military Police. This would result in him taking a position as second in command with the Army's largest Military Police Battalion. In 2016 Dr. Ham was drafted to be the Deputy Superintendent of Operations for the Marion County Public Schools where he managed all aspects of a system that supports 40,000 students and families. Two years later he would go on to be elected the President of the Marion County Veterans Council. His retirement from active duty in the Armed Forces in 1995 was far from the end of his service to his fellow veterans and community members.
Air Force Colonel and Physician, Gerald Hollingsworth began his service in the U.S. Navy before later joining the Air Force reserve. He operated as a Flight Surgeon for the Navy and deployed to Vietnam in 1968 during the Tet Offensive to treat combat related casualties. Col. Hollingsworth would then go on to serve as the Hospital Commander at Duke Field, Florida, from 1975 to 1985. Col. Hollingsworth also became a medical doctor and completed his surgical residency in 1957. Practicing medicine in Fort Walton beach for over 60 years, the Colonel was named Northwest Florida daily News Person of the Year in 2019 and had the Fort Walton Beach Salvation Army facility named in his honor following years of contribution and community leadership.
A Florida native, POW, and 52-year free fall parachute record holder, Joseph Kittinger retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel. He is recognized on both national and international levels for his accomplishments during his service in both war and peace times. During his combat tour as a Lt. Col. in Vietnam, Col Kittinger was shot down and taken as a Prisoner of War. His time as a POW far from inhibited him from many more accomplishments. He would go on to become a 50+ year world record holder because of his 20-mile parachute jump. Later in life he became the Founder and member of both the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association and the Air Commando Association. Colonel Kittinger passed away in 2022, but his legacy and accomplishments continue to be celebrated amongst veterans and communities as a whole in Florida, and across the Nation.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Henry Lowery of the United States Marine Corps was born and raised here in the State of Florida and served our nation for 34 years. His service to our nation was compounded when Gunner Lowery went on to create a program for Marines struggling financially to connect them with assistance in 1973. Following his service, he worked hand in hand with the Tallahassee National Cemetery in addition to creating the Honor Guard on which he served over 200 Veterans funerals. As a volunteer for numerous local Veteran based organizations, Lowery has dedicated a vast majority of his life to supporting the veteran community. He is decorated with three Combat Action Ribbons, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal brandishing one star, and countless other awards and recognitions.
United States Coast Guard Commander Bruce Melnick ended his 20 years of service with two Department of Defense Superior Service Medals, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Secretary of Transportation Heroism Award. The well decorated Commander was selected by NASA in 1988 to become a mission specialist, going on to log more than 300 hours in space. Adding to his accolades, Melnick went on to become the Vice President for Boeing's Florida Operations at John F. Kennedy Space Center. Contributing to the growth of the Space Coast significantly while serving his fellow veterans in countless ways from fundraising for the Wounded Warrior Project to over 100 educational presentations, Commander Melnick's achievements and service are beyond measure.
Starting his career in 1967, Major General Frederic Raymond has dedicated much of his life to not only his Country, but those who serve it. Serving on the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Commission for four years, and nearly six as the President of the Suncoast Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, Major General Raymond has accumulated a lifetime of service, for which he was awarded on multiple occasions. He continues to remain involved in the Tampa Bay community today and has made it a mission of his to see that those he served alongside in Vietnam are recognized for their service and sacrifice. His time and passion to serve stretches into countless scopes whether that be volunteering in the education system and enriching the lives of local students through improving literacy skills or continuing to support the veterans around him, near and far.
Walter Raysick Sr. achieved the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy prior to his retirement in 1989. His Naval service highlights include but are not limited to multiple deployments to the Pacific, including Vietnam, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and time aboard the Defense Nuclear Agency. Mr. Raysick took his wealth of knowledge of our Armed Forces and those who served in it into another line of service upon leaving the Navy. He went on to work as a Military Benefits Analyst in Rockville, MD. He is a Life Member of multiple veteran-based organizations and councils and recipient of multiple awards recognizing him as an outstanding citizen in his community. Master Chief Petty Officer Raysick oversaw the completion of 14 veterans memorials and has spent countless hours giving back to the veteran community.
Command Sergeant Major Leon Roy dedicated over 60 years of his life to serving the United States, its people, and especially those around him. Retiring as a Command Sergeant Major in 1980, two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and his service in Vietnam are only a few of Sergeant Major Roy's honors. For 16 years following his time with the U.S. Army, Mr. Roy found his passion with Jr. ROTC at Quincy Shanks High School where he taught the next generation of our nation's servicemen and women. In 2004 he was selected as the 75th Ranger Regiment Association's Man of the Year. A life Member of The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Sergeant Major Roy's service extended far beyond that in the U.S. Army. The young people he was able to impact kept in touch with him in their years following ROTC, and many became veterans themselves. Following a lifetime of service to the Nation and State, and impact on everyone around him Mr. Roy passed away in 2020. His tireless work with other Veterans, the VFW, students, and young people will live on for years to come.
Staff Sergeant Edward Sheffield of the United States Army is decorated Veteran and lifelong servant to not only the United States, but the State of Florida. He is a Bronze Star recipient, three-time Purple Heart Recipient, and former Prisoner of War. The Florida Native spent three years as a POW before leaving the U.S. Army and leading a life of service outside the Armed Forces as a volunteer on multiple levels. He was instrumental in the development of the Veterans Memorial Park in Perry and served as the Leading Board Member and principal driver of the Taylor County Veterans Memorial Park. SSgt Sheffield is a multi-recipient of awards on behalf of the Perry Elks Lodge for his service to Veterans and holds lifetime memberships in multiple Veteran based organizations. His service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States is one that will be celebrated endlessly.
As a Senior Airman 1st Class in the United States Air Force, Joseph Sicinski, a Korean War Veteran, Mr. Sicinski is seen by those around him as what it means to be and outstanding Veteran, and advocate. Operating as the Crew Chief on a F-84 Bomber with the 58th Fighter Bomber Group, the Senior Airman 1st Class built a wealth of knowledge of aircraft and our Nation's military. This would allow him to become a technical writer and contribute to manuals used by the Navy Training and Equipment Center in Orlando Florida. In his retirement, he was elected as the President/ Commander of the Korean War Veterans Association in Port Orange Florida, and later the Vice President for the State. He is a renowned asset to the Veteran community and continues to serve and honor our Nation.
Master Sergent Ethel Tarter served in the United States Air Force for over 22 years. During her time in service, Master Sgt. Tarter left a permanent mark on the U.S. Air Force by publishing 11 volumes on instruction manuals for the Career Correspondence Course as well as serving as the course author for the Carter Field Medical Laboratory. Her contributions went far beyond that of being a writer, having served in Operation Desert Storm/Shield. Her dedication to our Nation and its servicemen and women did not end which she retired from the Armed Forces, but continued service with the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. She continues to maintain relationships with multiple Congressionally Chartered Veterans Service Organizations and has become a staple in the Veteran community.
Sergeant Dwayne Thrift is a United States Air Force and Vietnam Veteran. His selflessness and sacrifice motivated him to step in for his fellow servicemen and women during times on conflict and relieve them during holidays, volunteering to replace them in various combat zones. These acts of selflessness, kindness, and dedication to service he has earned him the respect of everyone around him. Outside of his time in the U.S. Air Force, he has accumulated 20 years dedicated to those he served with as a fierce advocate of our Nation's veterans. Having received countless awards and recognitions from Veteran's organizations throughout the years, Sergeant Thrift has been a shining light for the Veteran community.
An Infantryman of the United States Army, Captain Donn Weaver climbed his way from Private to Captain during his time in service. He is not only a strong advocate for Veterans, but additionally a Gold Star Father. Donn left a lasting mark on the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center and Park and dedicated 10 years to its success. A Korean War Veteran, Captain Weaver is a one-man force multiplier and has carried that characteristic with him throughout his service and far beyond. Over the years he has received countless awards and recognitions for his contributions to the Veteran community and society. He has taken on roles from teaching undergrads at Florida State University to independent contracting on behalf of the Department of Defense. The resume he has accumulated is full and dense with accolades and accomplishments applauded by all.
Major Ellsworth "Tony" Williams retired from the United States Army in 2007 following service in Desert Storm/Shield, Iraq and Afghanistan. A member of the intelligence community and commissioning in 1990, Major Williams wears three Bronze Stars, two Army Commendation Medals, and countless recognitions for his achievements following his retirement. He has supported thousands of veterans in the State of Florida and has logged much of his life in the military community. He has taken on positions at numerous Veteran based councils and associations. Today, Tony serves as the Founder and current President/CEO of Veterans Counseling Veterans Inc.
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