‘Our Community Salutes’

High School enlistee dinner


Members of the armed forces and community honored Brookhaven Town high school seniors who enlisted in the military at a dinner in East Patchogue on May 15.

Our Community Salutes (OCS) held its ninth annual High School Enlistee Recognition Dinner to recognize 37 high school seniors entering the military after graduation. Speakers from the U.S. Army and Navy gave reassurances to potentially nervous parents while encouraging the students to make the most out of their future military endeavors.

Keynote speaker, retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. (CSM) Michele S. Jones, spoke about the support network that backed her military career from enlistment to becoming the first woman CSM in the U.S. Army.

“Every day was not a holiday, but every day was a good day because I knew I had the support of my family,” CSM Jones said. “I made new friends, I got a military family, I met people from around the world, but my base was my family.”

Jones then talked about her “bones theory,” which includes the backbone to have courage, the wishbone to have hope, the funny bone to ignore naysayers, and the tailbone to make dreams a reality.

Guest speaker, Brig. Gen. John P. Lloyd, U.S. Army, told enlistees to value serving others and embrace personal growth.

“Being a member of the military is more than a job; it is a calling to uphold the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” Lloyd said.

The high school seniors then pledged their allegiance to the U.S. military in a swearing-in ceremony led by Lloyd.

Following dinner, the featured speaker, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mike Quinn, encouraged enlistees to forge valuable connections and be leaders in any situation.

“Learn as much as you can from your mentors, then give back and become a leader for others. It’s not dependent on the rank you hold,” Quinn said. “Everyone can be a leader.”

Suffolk County legislators James Mazzarella, Dominick Thorne, Chad Lennon, and Brookhaven Town supervisor Dan Panico each made statements congratulating the enlistees and offering them support when they returned home.

OCS Brookhaven co-chairperson Bob Vecchio then presented grants from the Tom & Jo-Ann Croci Foundation to three enlistees who submitted an essay application. The $500 grants were awarded to Connor Wilson of South Country, Baldric Pagan of Sachem, and Rachel Hollywood of Middle Country.


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