30 Heroes Under 30 Bios

 

Nominated by His Wife, Jennifer O’Neill

I met Jayson on my first girls night out at the Bay. Little did I know that it was going to be a night filled with soldiers on their night out after recently coming home from a 1 year deployment in Afghanistan. When I met him he was like no other man you would typically meet out, he was a real gentleman, his eyes were filled with stories I wanted to hear. The typical love story We met while he was stationed here at Fort Drum, fell in love, he finished his contract, went back home to his hometown Pocatello, Idaho only to say goodbye to his family again and drive across the country to be with me. Though we had so much love to give to each other the time was tough. Not much is talked about with returning soldiers. He did everything he could to make those stories hidden in his eyes become easier to cope with. The VA has helped many soldiers deal with the agony of PTSD. Since then he has learned to cope with civilian life, become a loving father figure for my two girls, and put back into our community. Almost a year ago he transferred to the National Guard to help our local community. I would like to nominate Jayson to be honored because so many people don\'t realize how young our veterans are. That veterans are not just from wars long ago. We have so many young soldiers coming home and still have their whole life ahead of them, and so many of them that don't get the help they need to transfer back to civilian life. Jayson has overcome so so many obstacles and continues to serve our country now. We are expecting our first child this September and I know this child will be proud to hear what his Daddy has done for our country.

Nominated by His Father, Jim Barrella Jr.

Jim entered Basic Training on 28 Jul 2006 and was later stationed at Ft Riley Kansas attached to Charlie Troop 1/4 Cav 1 ID. On 28 Feb 2007 he deployed to Iraq and patrolled the areas around Baghdad. On 28 Aug 2007 Jim's unit was attacked while on patrol in the Dora Market District and his Humvee was hit with a parachute grenade (anti-armor). Jim suffered a major injury to his arm requiring several surgeries and is completely deaf in his right ear. He still carries shrapnel in him abdomen, arm and groin area. Jim spent 2 years recovering from his injuries with most of that being spent at Brooks Army Medical Center / Ft. Sam Houston Texas. He was medically discharged due to his injuries and returned to the civilian world. Jim has not let his injuries get in the way of daily life and has become a partner in C&J Construction Company. During the recent flooding in the Eastern region of CNY he again went on deployment....this time to pump basements and shovel mud for those affected..he did this at no cost to the home owner. For his service to our Country and continued service to those in need, I feel my son deserves to be recognized and commended.

Nominated by His Mother, Valerie Barton

I am nominating Cody because his father and I and his ENTIRE family are so VERY proud of him!! (oh...but there is more... LOL) This soldier went through many changes in a short time (as well as most soldiers do when they enlist!). He left home, went to basic, came home for too short a time and then deployed overseas for a year. Life was very different from there out! He made several "VERY" personal sacrifices as well, but kept his head high and came out a better man. After meeting some of his commanding officers it just made us prouder (if that was possible!)- everyone that I have met that know Cody tell us the same thing over and over again....He is such a great person. He's outgoing and is the first one to pitch in when something is needed! His maturity level has always been well beyond his years. Even if he isn't nominated, it makes me smile and tear at the same time to think...... He's OUR son!! We are very honored to have such a fine man!! And thank you guys for doing such a honorable thing and giving us the chance to share our pride of the USA :) God Bless.

Nominated by Judy Poletto

I would like to nominate Abbey Bassett for the 30 Heroes under 30. She has been in the US Airforce since she was 18, 4 years. She works full time at the 174th fighter wing in the Traffic management dept. She is a single mother that is very dedicated to her country. She participates in the Christmas Food drive every year. She was deployed to Coney Island after Hurricane Sandy and eagerly does whatever is asked of her with a smile on her face. Thank you.

Jamie is an inspiration to those battling both physical and emotional challenges. She is proactive in her own recovery and continues to be active in the military. Jamie is an amazing citizen of central New York and also a member of the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field.

Nominated by Wife, Monica Boles

Served in the USMC reserves from 2004-2012. He was deployed to Djibouti, Africa in 2008 and served there for a year. He was there to help put a stop to the pirates attacking ships. While in Africa he also help to protect camp Lemonnier from any invaders. He also protected the US embassy in Djibouti during his time. On his down time he would go on humanitarian missions to help build houses and schools for some of the local tribes. He is my husband and he is also my Hero.

Nominated by Jody L. Rogers

I have known Anthony for 11 years. He initially graduated from High School and went to college but decided to broaden his horizons and skill set by enlisting. He served in Iraq as a young man and that experience has formed the man he is today. He spent time while in Iraq interacting with Iraq children. He is more disciplined, organized and focused. Since his return he has continued his college courses with more determination then before to utilize what he learned living and serving with other fellow soldiers. He has become a regular volunteer at our local teen center sharing his life experiences with the youth that attend. He has also stepped up to assist with raising funds by giving of his time for the local non-profit. He inspires the young people on a daily basis in his quiet demeanor. He discusses careers in the military with anyone who asks and speaks of service to one’s country and to one’s community. He is a great kid who became a man. We are so proud of him.

Nominated by His Wife, Lauren Britton

Wayne is a remarkable human being and is truly deserving of this honor. During his time in service he deployed to Iraq for fourteen months. He was a constant source of encouragement and support for his fellow soldiers and a leader in every sense of the word. He decided to leave the army in order to pursue a college degree and will complete his Bachelors degree in Community and Human Services at Empire State College in September. He is the first member of his family to receive a bachelor’s degree. After he was honorably discharged in 2010, he enlisted with the Syracuse Army National Guard in order to continue serving his country while attending college. Wayne is dedicated to his community, including helping to start a Student Veterans Club at the college. He plans to continue at SUNY Empire State College this fall, pursuing a Certificate in Veterans’ Services. Upon completion, his goal is to work with veterans and assist them with the transition from military to civilian life, a challenging and often daunting experience for many. In addition to being a dedicated student, he is a devoted father to a seven-month-old baby and a loyal and caring husband. My husband always puts others before himself and is the most honest and compassionate person that I have ever met. He is often an unsung hero, always supporting others and offering any aid he can, asking for nothing in return. I feel incredibly blessed to call this man my husband and am reminded every day how lucky I am to have such a special person in my life. At 27 years of age he has loyally served his country for six years, received and associates degree, will soon receive a bachelor’s degree, and is a founding member of the Student Veterans Club at SUNY Empire State College. Serving in the military changed his life for the better and created a world of opportunity for him. It is his mission to help others and I hope that he will have the opportunity to be honored as a member of 30 Heroes Under 30, he is by every definition a true American hero.

Nominated by Monica Schworles

Chris knew exactly what he wanted to do after graduating high school, and that was to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. His interest in the military stemmed from being a part of his high school’s MCJROTC unit, where he quickly excelled and obtained several leadership roles. Three weeks after graduating from high school, Chris left for boot camp at Paris Island, SC. He went on to train in the Infantry Training Battalion’s School of Infantry (SOI) at Camp Geiger, NC. It was here that he earned his MOS, 0311 Riflemen. After graduating SOI, Chris was assigned to 2ndBattalion, 2nd Marines at Camp Lejeune, NC. He knew when he enlisted that he would be deployed because it was a time of war. He knew that a deployment meant he was not guaranteed to come home alive or uninjured. But he knew it was the right thing to do. He was always striving to make himself a better Marine. During his 2nd tour of duty in Iraq, friends back home celebrated holidays and birthdays with their families. Chris spent his 21st birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas overseas. This is not what makes Chris a hero though. What he did to serve our country puts tears in my eyes. As difficult as everything he saw, did and experienced in Iraq was, his real battle did not even begin until he came back home. In 2007, at the age of 22, while others his age were just starting their lives with a bright future ahead, Chris was given a diagnosis of PTSD. While others around him had their entire lives to look forward to, Chris had to start again. He could no longer effectively serve in the Marine Corps. Things that used to come so easily were now a daily struggle. Chris was now living with daily depression and anxiety and dealing with not being able to sleep because of nightmares. He also was dealing with mood swings that he couldn’t explain. Yet somehow he had to find a way to push through it all. A year after leaving his dream of being a career Marine, Chris enrolled in at Syracuse University with the help of the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation program. He studied Information Management & Technology and earned a minor in Global Enterprise Technology. Following graduation at SU, Chris earned a master’s degree in Cybersecurity from Utica College. Next year, he plans to start a PhD program. He does all this while working full time. His hope is to one day, finally be able to serve his country again with a position in the NSA. Chris will always be a disabled veteran. Sometimes his PTSD is manageable, and other times he needs the support of everyone around him just to keep him going. His drive and passion to find another way to serve his country after this diagnosis is truly inspiring. Yet he doesn’t even realize he is a hero.

Nominated by His Mother, Lisa Walsh Curtin

Andrew entered the USMC and wanted to serve his country as a "grunt". He did 2 combat tours, one in Iraq, in Fallujah, and another in Afghanistan. He earned a Purple Heart there after being in an explosion caused by an IED. He was hit between his carotid and jugular and would have bleed out if there was not a helicopter nearby. After spending a month at Wounded Warriors, he returned to combat for the balance of his tour. He was involved in hundreds of fire fights and lost friends fighting next to him, in one case a SGT. They collected pieces of him to send home to bury. Since his discharge in August of 2011, he has two years of nursing school behind him in the BS/RN program through Lemoyne and St. Joseph's and bought a two family home on Tipperary Hill. That man is my hero, and he is also my son. When he was deployed, I wrote him every day, to tell him he is my Heart.

Nominated by Joanne Ernenwein 

Steve is a young man with a big heart and the discipline and drive to achieve his goals while giving back to his community. He is currently the Director of Youth and Family Wellness at the TriValley YMCA in Oneida. In this position he uses his Army training to collaborate on a community-wide effort to combat childhood obesity. His past training as a coach coupled with the Army's leadership training has helped him create an intensive 12 week program of physical, nutritional, behavioral, and social fitness. Together with a team of wellness professionals, Steve uses his energy and interest to empower the youth of our community to live a healthy lifestyle. The pilot of this program was recently completed and the outcomes are very positive. Steve plans to continue overseeing the fitness portion of the program with his personal trainer and data collection personnel reporting to him on a daily and weekly basis with the intention of growing the program to include a component for youth mentors. His paratrooper experience taught him invaluable lessons in decision making while maintaining a high level of compassion for innocent civilians. While in the service, he built and defended Observation Point Mace in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. He participated in several joint military operations at Camp Ederle Vincenza, Italy and was one of the first US Army military units to actively participate in the Haiti relief effort. This training translates into a remarkable young director whose decisions are based on the best possible outcome for the youth and families he serves at the Y. He is a member of our local Rotary club as well, living our motto of Service above Self. For these reasons and many more, I believe Steve Eddy deserves to be recognized as a local hero.

Nominated by Phil Whaley

Tyler joined the military and moved from Syracuse to Fort Hood, went to Afghanistan and when he got done moved to Winston Salem, NC where he struggled to find a job, eventually moved back to NY, where his wife gave birth to their first child, his wife became deathly ill and had to be airlifted to Boston from Watertown, his wife now either needs a heart transplant or has to wear an LVAD for the remainder of her life, she spent 5 months in hospital in Boston while family raised a newborn daughter in the Watertown area.

Nominated by Kristin Bruce

I am quite certain that Elio Gianetti can be honored as a hero because of his service to this country; however I am also incredibly proud of what he has done since he has returned home to his family. Forging a new career path for yourself is not an easy task but is made even more difficult after interrupting your path to be deployed serving your country. Elio came to Upstate University’s Community Campus’ Volunteer office with a drive to find out what he is destined to do was as well as to continue to serve his community in some capacity. He was dedicated to volunteering in areas he thought he may enjoy turning into a career. He worked hard to tease out his interests and what he wants from his life and career going forward. I knew we had a great placement for him in our outpatient physical therapy center when I ran into a therapist from that area and he had all good things to say about Elio. Though I believe there to be many reasons why Elio should be honored for his service and sacrifice in our military, I also feel that what he is doing for himself since returning home is just as brace. He is a wonderful individual that I am proud to have called part of our Upstate family and thrilled that his heroism has continued into his civilian life.

Nominated by His Wife, Leslie Grady

This veteran deserves to be honored because he would never ask to be honored. He serves with dignity and modesty. He is a devoted husband and loving father and works extremely hard for his family and country. He served 1 tour in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan. He has battled back from injury, earning a purple heart from wounds he received during his tour in Afghanistan. He continues to protect and serve his country at home as an Onondaga county sheriff as well as maintaining a reputable status as a sergeant in the Marine Corps. Please honor my husband. Thank you.

Nominated by Lorie Schneider

We met SSgt. Jeremy Guidroz at the most sorrowful, painful time in our lives. Jeremy was one of two Marines that pulled up in our driveway to deliver the most devastating news a parent or family could ever imagine hearing. Our brave son, Corporal Kyle R. Schneider, a United States Marine deployed to Afghanistan, was killed in action. SSgt. Jeremy Guidroz is our CACO Officer (Casualty Assistance Calls Officer). On June 30, 2011, Jeremy pulled into our driveway and had to tell our family that their beloved son and brother Gave All. He has gone beyond his official dedication to duty. He has been our advocate with the Military, and has doggedly pursued all forms of assistance for us. Jeremy lightened our burden by being by our side and helping with the daunting task of paperwork and travel arrangements. He has been by our side through every ceremony, including burial, making the arrangements and helping in any way he could. His actions go beyond the obligatory. He has been devoted to us and stood by us steadfastly, and who has now become a part of our family. Jeremy assists our family in any request we have. He is there to help and add his expertise in any project that we have. He has helped keep Kyle's memory alive by running races in his honor (during the Seneca 77 he ran 15 miles) and serving as a board member on the foundation we created in Kyle's name and honor. He attends functions with us, and has directed the color guard ceremony at the Post Office Dedication in Kyle's honor and at The Folds of Honor Function. Jeremy has been at holiday dinners with us, knowing getting through the holiday would be difficult for our family. He has been with our family ever since. SSgt. Guidroz has been deployed to combat zones and fought for his country two times before being given the challenging task of delivering heart breaking news to a fellow Marine’s family. He has fought for and protected our Country. He has served America fully and is well deserving of recognition for his faithful commitment to America and our family, a Gold Star Family. We are nominating SSgt. Jeremy Guidroz for consideration for the Heroes Under 30 Recognition on Veteran's Day, because he exemplifies the Marine Corps motto of Honor, Courage and Commitment.

Nominated by Melissa Fleischmann

In addition to his current service as a Firefighter with the New York Air National Guard, Haas is an active first responder in Central New York. He works professionally as an EMT with Rural/Metro, and is an active volunteer Lieutenant with East Syracuse Volunteer Fire Department where he provides hundreds of hours of service to the community each year. Jason has served Central New York as a volunteer first responder and firefighter for over 10 years, and is a graduate of Onondaga Community College and the Community College of the Air Force. He has served on multiple deployments, both internationally in Afghanistan and on a regional basis including Hurricane Sandy and Flood Relief.

Nominated by Beth Hudson

Sean served in the Army for 5 years. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as an infantryman. During his deployment to Afghanistan he was acting as the radio and telephone operator when his patrol took enemy fire and IED detonations. Sean lost several friends during this incident and was injured as the result of one of the explosions. He received the Bronze Star with valor for his actions during this incident. He also received a Purple Heart. He has therefore been recognized as a hero by the Army. He is a hero to me not only for his actions in combat and his devotion to his comrades and his country, but because he continues to be a generous and courageous young man now that his active duty service is done. He has dealt with nightmares and headaches, as have many veterans without complaint. He works full time and maintains friendships with fellow soldiers. He has joined the Army Reserves and continues to honor his country and the uniform he wears with pride.

Nominated by Madelyn Dievendorf

 

I am honored and proud to nominate James Wesley Kehoe (former Captain and United States Army Veteran) as a deserving hero under 30 years of age. As a graduate of West Point Military Academy, in 2005, James spent the following 6-1/2 years honorably serving our country. He was a tank commander in the Iraq War and finished his military commitment as a Captain, assigned to Army Recruiting in Syracuse, NY. James was also awarded with the distinguished Bronze Star for his heroic ground combat, meritorious achievement, and outstanding military service.

Veterans, like James Kehoe, have made a positive difference in our every-day lives. We are able to exercise our personal choices and thrive in this great land of ours, the United States of America, because heroes (like James) serve to bravely protect our freedom. James is a humble, caring individual who proudly served, but he always credits the power of his fellow soldiers, both men and women, as being more of an eternal "brotherhood." In battle, they had one another's backs so that we, at home, did not have to keep looking over our shoulders in fear. Together, soldiers have sacrificed in countless ways, many of which the average American may never know. There is an act of selflessness and dignity that most definitely defines our brave hero, James Kehoe. He has proven his strength of spirit, always persevering and exhibiting true grit through many of life’s challenges. Heroes have a way of doing that and leading others by demonstrating courage in motion. James Wesley Kehoe is certainly one of the best, in my eyes and heart! This past May, James married our only daughter. Our hearts burst, with joy, many times over in personal relationship to James! With or without public recognition, our family is privileged to honor and embrace this amazing young man, both as our son-in-law and an all-American hero!

Nominated by Sarah Yaw

 

Prior to Brian Knapp’s graduation from Cayuga Community College, President Daniel Larson said to the College’s Board of Trustees: When invited by SUNY’s Chancellor to summarize activities of note at our College in 60 seconds, I chose to speak about Brian Knapp. It’s no wonder he chose to do so. Brian’s outstanding leadership as a student veteran changed the College. As a member of the College’s Veterans’ Working Group he provided essential guidance and leadership in the process of removing several significant obstacles to success for students using GI Bill benefits. In his first few weeks of school, Brian singlehandedly gathered nearly forty student veterans and formed a Vets? Club on the Auburn campus, so that those veterans could experience the camaraderie of ?unit cohesion, an essential military cultural support often lacking for Service members returning to campus. Brian identified student veterans clubs as the VFW or American Legion of the current generation of post 9/11 veterans, and it’s this astute understanding of the modern veteran experience that made him an important voice in the CNY Veterans Higher Education Regional Consortium (CNY V-HERC), a Cayuga initiative. As a wounded Afghanistan veteran coping with TBI, Brian understood the importance of connecting student veterans with area resources so they can achieve in school without life getting in the way the stated goal of CNY V-HERC. In my eleven years as a faculty member at the College, I don’t know of a student who has played such a vitally important role at every level of the College, from influencing College policy to providing direct peer support thus enhancing the student-veteran experience at the College to serving as an outstanding representative of the College regionally and nationally. This dynamic leadership earned him the opportunity to be a panel presenter at the National Conference of Students in Transition and an invited panel presenter at the National Conference of Student Veterans of America, where Brian was the only presenter from a community college on a panel that he shared with student veterans from prestigious universities such as Columbia University. He was also a 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award recipient, SUNY’s highest student honor, and a speaker at Cayuga’s 2012 commencement. It is no wonder that when given the opportunity to highlight a singular achievement at Cayuga, Dr. Larson chose to speak to the Chancellor about Brian Knapp. And it is no wonder that upon graduation from Cayuga, Congressman Dan Maffei hired Brian as his veterans outreach coordinator/caseworker where he currently serves veterans returning to the region aiding in their transition and advocating for their needs. It is for all the aforementioned reasons that Brian Knapp is a hero who ought to be included in the 30 Heroes Under 30.

Nominated by Brenda Treece

Mike joined the military in 2008. He also studied law at Kent State University. In 2011 he deployed to Afghanistan. Mike was the armor and supply for his unit. When they arrived in Afghanistan, they had to build the armory and supply center for which Mike was a key element. Mike was awarded soldier of the month and also several commendations. Mike came home in 2012.he drives over 600 miles each month to report for duty with his unit in Medina, Ohio. Mike has lived in central New York since 2010, and he was born in Watertown,Ny. Mike has exhibited outstanding dedication to his country and his family. At 24, he is an example and a joy to all who know him.

Will had many challenges after leaving his 7 years of military service but has persevered. He has kept his family together and is now pursuing his education in order to become a successful veteran entrepreneur. Will is a current member of Clear Path for Veterans Dogs2Vets program, he is also considering volunteering his time to help other veterans successfully reintegrate into their community after their service to their country has ended.

Nominated by His Wife Amanda McClure

Brett has served 5 years with the USMC and has deployed 3 times. Once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. His 3rd tour I gave birth to our 1st son just 2 weeks into his departure and he wasn't able to meet Brayden until he was 6 months old when Brett finally arrived home. He's earned many awards/ribbons and unfortunately has lost a number of very close friends. He's an amazing man, a great marine and I would love for him to be recognized for all the hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears he has put in to fight for our freedom. I would forever be grateful! Thank you!

Nominated by Earl Fontenot and John Ready

Earl: This veteran has dedicated his time to helping other vets by teaching them in the fields of agriculture, culinary arts, and creative writing. He has volunteered numerous hours at Clear Path for Veterans.

John: Andrew Miller served 2 tours in Afghanistan. Since he left the Army last year, he has worked tirelessly at Clear Path for Veterans, improving the quality of life for veterans and their families.

Nominated by His Wife, Stephanie Muters

I feel my husband SPC Joshua Muters should be honored because he is the kinda person who will do for others before himself. Before his first deployment he was a volunteer firefighter for 5 years he started while in high school. He joined the army in 2009, we got married in 2010 had our daughter in 2012 and shortly after he deployed to Kuwait. When he returned home from his deployment only a few weeks went by before we experienced hurricane sandy. Seeing the damage first hand while on a trip to long island the day the hurricane hit he volunteered to go back with his National Guard unit to help with efforts in the rescue and clean up in the New York area. I think that it takes a special person to sacrifice there time with family and friends to be apart of the service at this time in United States history and I’m grateful for every one of the men and women who stand beside my husband.

Rey is forward thinking in his approach to his transition to civilian life. Even though he is currently active in the military, he has recognized his need to utilize resources available to him to keep his family together and himself comfortable in his new role as a civilian. Rey has served multiple deployments with the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY.

Nominated by His Wife, Trishia Osborn

He is a very loyal and dedicated veteran/ husband/ father. He isn't afraid to tell anyone how much he loves our country and how honored he was to serve our country. He was deployed to Iraq twice and has PTSD from what he went through while being over there. He doesn’t look at it as an illness, but more as a badge of honor. He is the example of a true hero and a perfect American.

Nominated by Priscilla Garrett

Fredie has been the true meaning of a solider in every aspect. Even though injured in the line of duty he is making a life and dealing with PSTD. He never complains and still keeps pushing.

Nominated by His Father, Samuel Roberts

My son falls under the 42nd Infantry Division, he is currently an E-4/specialist, and Military Police getting ready to become a Electronic Warfare Sergeant. Sam is a great son, he has worked hard his whole life. After my son graduated, he decided to serve his country, his original unit was the 107th MP company out of Utica, In which he was stationed in the JTF section of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He is now home safe and sound and now stationed with HHC 427 battalion support brigade. As the son of a NYS State Assembly member who has worked in public service for over 20 years, I can not be prouder than my son to follow my foot steps.

Nominated by His Wife, Sara Tomasino

He has a purple heart for stage 3 concussion while serving 15 months in Iraq. Since finishing his contract with the Army has been going to school and providing for our family.

Nominated by His Wife, Kira Vasquez

My veteran served in OIF-OEF from 2007-2009 there he was an Infantry man on the front lines fighting (I mean close combat) through his deployment his platoon only lost 1 man. Although, once he came home he lost many friends and brothers he deployed with. He himself faught more demons once he came home. Our marriage was unstable, he was medically retired from the Army and working a dead end job to pay the bills. Over this past year he has over come his adversity and thrived as a man, husband and father. He is a full time student, co-founder of a veteran\'s club at his school and excellent example of over coming all odds. He fought for our country, he fought for our marriage and fought for himself. He is, in every sense of the word... my Hero.

Steve had the courage to seek help with his transition to civilian life and joined Clear Path's Dogs2Vets program. After graduating from the program he wanted to give back not only to the program that helped him but also to fellow veterans, which he currently does in addition to working full time and caring for his family.