Honoring Our Nation’s Heroes

By Senator Patty Ritchie’s
A hero is defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and qualities.

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with more than a dozen local heroes, all nominees for the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame program.

Len Yablonski, a native of Mexico, Oswego County, poses with Senator Patty Ritchie last week. He was one of several veterans being recognized. (Editor's Note: He is OCT editor Steve Yablonski's big brother)
Len Yablonski, a native of Mexico, Oswego County, poses with Senator Patty Ritchie last week. He was one of several veterans being recognized. (Editor’s Note:  He is OCT editor Steve Yablonski’s big brother)

The Hall of Fame pays tribute to New Yorkers who have served their country in the US Armed Forces and made significant contributions to their communities.

29 brave men and women from Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties were nominated for this special program.

Many of those nominees joined me last week for a special recognition ceremony held at Fort Drum’s USO.

From the beaches of France and the jungles of the South Pacific and Vietnam to the frigid winters of Korea, the hot sands of the Middle East and defending the homeland during the Cold War, it was truly humbling to hear the honoree’s stories of commitment and bravery.

What’s equally impressive is that after serving, these veterans continued to give back, making contributions to their communities in Central and Northern New York.  Whether it’s continuing to help our troops, teaching our future leaders, or helping our region develop and prosper, their dedication and love for our country is remarkable.

Of those who were nominated, I selected Col. (Ret.) Terrence Roche as my inductee into New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.

Col. Roche is a 26-year military veteran who commanded at every level from platoon to Garrison at posts from Buffalo to Paris and Korea with wartime service in Vietnam.

As Garrison Commander when the announcement was made in 1984 that Fort Drum would be home to the 10th Mountain Division, Col. Roche played a key role in the planning and initial execution of the  $1.2 billion construction project and the rapid expansion of the installation.

Today, Col. Roche continues to make significant contributions to the success of Fort Drum through the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, which he helped create, as well as a number of other organizations, civic groups and other efforts.

I encourage you to read more about Col. Roche, as well as this year’s nominees at my website.www.ritchie.nysenate.gov

There you’ll find full biographies of each honoree, as well as a downloadable 10th Mountain Division Yellow Ribbon, which you can print and share to show your support for those who are currently serving.

To this year’s honorees, as well as the men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces today, thank you.

We will forever be indebted to you for the sacrifices you have made.