Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz on Wednesday announced the ten men who will be inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
The Hall of Fame recognizes distinguished veterans who have made significant contributions to their communities after leaving military service.
Wyman and Schwartz will be joined by leaders of the state’s veterans’ community at the induction ceremony on Friday, November 1, 2013 in the Atrium of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Each inductee or family representative will receive a commemorative medallion recognizing their induction.
The 2013 Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame inductees are:
John H. Bannan, (Posthumously) Simsbury – U.S. Army
A soldier and prisoner of war during World War II, Bannan was a 6th grade teacher for over 30 years, as well as a member of the Simsbury Board of Selectmen, the Lions Club, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. His generosity and dedication to his community were exceptional. He never forgot the time spent suffering as a P.O.W. which inspired him to create the annual Jack Bannan Turkey Drive, which collected several thousand holiday turkeys each year for families unable to afford one.
George H. Breuler, Ashler Village – U.S. Army
In his hometown of North Haven, Breuler is known as a war hero whose community involvement included coordinating the town’s annual Memorial Day Parade for fourteen years, as well as coaching in the Max Sinoway Little League. Under his command, the American Legion Murray-Reynolds Post76 was honored as the Legion Post of the Nation in 1985. He also was selected by the Veterans Association to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C.
John (Jack) G. Casey, Groton – U.S. Navy
A Vietnam Veteran, who has dedicated his life to honoring veterans. Casey is the Captain of the Connecticut Patriot Guard Riders, an organization which was founded to maintain the dignity of funerals of members of the armed forces, veterans, firefighters and police throughout Connecticut and New England. Casey has been a tireless and determined veteran advocate who has spent many hours documenting the history of WWII Veterans, by collecting information to register thousands of veterans in the database of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. He has been involved with the American Warrior program and has made many trips on Honor Flights accompanying Veterans of the greatest generation to visit the memorial. He is also a volunteer driver for the New London Senior Center.
Miguel A. Escalera, Sr., Clinton – U.S. Army
A WWII veteran of the North African, Central European and Rhine campaigns, Escalera was the highest decorated soldier in his company and is credited with heroically saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. For more than 50 years he has provided countless volunteer services to the elderly community in Clinton, and served as the Municipal Agent for the Elderly for more than 30 years. He was the principal architect of Clinton’s Meals on Wheels program, and has served on the town’s Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day Committee since 1957.
Charles P. Gallagher, East Haven – U.S. Army
After enlisting in 1943, Gallagher planned to attend college under the Army Specialized Training Program, but instead was sent to Hawaii to join Company C, 32nd Regiment, 7th Division. Injured by an exploding hand grenade, he enrolled in Georgetown University’s Foreign Service School and then went on to earn a law degree. He has been a stalwart member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart lending his expertise and energies as the State Judge Advocate. Among his many successful endeavors, Charlie has been a tireless leader in providing financial guidance to help raise funds for the creation of the first Purple Heart memorial in Connecticut, rewriting the Constitution and B-Laws for the organization and supporting combat wounded veterans by raising funds for a wheelchair lift vehicle for the West Haven, VA. It is important to note that when it comes to veterans and their families, there is no problem to great or too small that Charlie Gallagher will lend a hand to remedy.
Robin L. Montgomery, Brookfield – U.S. Marine Corps
Montgomery was awarded the Navy Cross and two Purple Hearts during his service in Vietnam. He then became an FBI Special Agent and was a founding member of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which created the Armed Forces Family Scholarship and Assistance Fund to provide scholarships for children of all troops lost in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fund has distributed more than $60 million to date. Montgomery became Chief of Police in Brookfield in 2000. He is a member of the Brookfield Lions Club and a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
James M. Mosley, Waterford – U.S. Navy
Mosley joined the Navy in 1948 and served 20 years, retiring as Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (Submarines). After retiring from the Navy, he became the first Minority Business Administrator for General Dynamics tasked with the responsibilities of promoting business among minorities and ensuring that discrimination in business practices were eliminated. In 2011, he authored the book “Life under the Microscope as an African-American” which chronicled his time in the Navy and Electric Boat. A frequent visitor to schools in the New London County area, he has shared his experiences with students about military life, submarines, nuclear power, personal growth and success. He is a selfless role model for young and old alike and has been a vocal supporter of service to country and community - leading by example.
Michael A. Thomas, New Haven/Milford – U.S. Navy - Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan
Thomas is a veteran of multiple deployments with the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group in Kosovo and Iraq and later as a Senior Intelligence Officer in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. However his advocacy for veterans has become his new mission in life. He is the Founder and President of “Archangel Ventures, LLC” which concentrates on providing unique employment opportunities for veterans, including On-the-Job Training and actual work placements in the service food franchise industry. He is a volunteer with the VA Veterans Housing Working Group and a member of the Board of Directors for United Way of Greater New Haven. Many regard him as an expert in veteran employment, housing, education and healthcare policy, both on the state and federal level.
William F. Vornikahl III, Westport – U.S. Army
From 1952 to 1954, Vornikahl served in the 1st Cavalry Div., 13th Signal Corps as a high-speed radio operator, serving for 14 months on the island of Hokkaido, Japan. He has been a member of Westport Veterans Council since 1961, serving as President since 2002. He has been Chairman of the Westport Memorial Day parade since 1970 and was Member/Treasurer of Westport’s War Monument Committee from 1996-99. He was a Little League coach for more than 20 years, and a volunteer sideline crew for Staples High School football team for over a decade. Vornikahl also has been Secretary/Treasurer of the Greens Farms Volunteer Fire Company since 1950, Vice President/Treasurer of the Saugatuck Hose Co. #4 since 1999 and was president of the Westport Volunteer Fire Company from 1973-1993.
Robert J. Young , Danbury – U.S. Navy
Young enlisted in the Navy in 1968 and served in Vietnam as a corpsman. After his service, he became a Physician Assistant and worked at the Federal Correctional Institute in Danbury. He researched, documented and spearheaded the creation and dedication of the African American Civil War Memorial honoring the 29th (Colored) Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry located in Wooster Cemetery in Danbury. As a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of Sheldon’s Horse, 2nd Continental Light Dragoons, he has brought to life the heritage of the War of Independence to the classrooms and students of the Danbury Schools. Of particular note was his efforts developing and managing Connecticut’s Commemoration of the 225th Anniversary of Rochambeau’s “March to Victory” and Encampment in Connecticut.