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Green Island presents local veterans with diplomas; seven honored with special awards

*Updated November 16, 2022*

November 10, 2022

Two veterans shaking hands.On Thursday, Nov. 10, representatives from the Green Island Union Free School District partnered with the local American Legion to honor veterans and present high school diplomas to those that sacrificed their education to serve in the United States military. 

Superintendent Kimberly Ross and Board of Education member Don McManus presented diplomas to the families and friends of seven local service members who left school to fight in World War I and World War II. Three of those soldiers were killed in action. 

In addition, several special awards were given to the honored vets, including two New York State Liberty awards, two Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars and one POW Medal. 

The ceremony was held at the Legnard-Curtin American Legion Post #927 in Green Island and was live streamed via Zoom to students at Heatly School. 

The seven individuals who received honorary diplomas as graduates of Heatly High School, Class of 1922 are:

  • Private Ulysses J. Catman, U.S. Army, World War I, who was killed in action on April 28, 1944, along with 748 of his fellow American soldiers when German U-boats torpedoed their fleet in Lyme Bay. Catman attended Heatly School from 1916-1924, before enlisting in the U.S. Army in May of 1943. Kevin Catman, the great nephew of Private Ulysses Catman, accepted Pvt. Catman's diploma.
  • Private. John E. Gleason, U.S. Army, World War II, who died on Aug. 29, 1942 while being held as a prisoner of war by Japanese soldiers in the Philippines after previously surviving the horrific Bataan Death March. He attended Cohoes Public Schools before enlisting in the National Guard in 1939. Mark Gleason, nephew of Private John E. Gleason, accepted Pvt. Gleason's diploma.
  • Corporal Thomas E. Hedley, U.S. Army, Germany, who was an Honor Guard at Spandau Prison in Germany where he guarded Nazi officials, including Rudolf Hess. He left school after the 10th grade and moved to Menands, before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1958. Joseph Lazzaro, friend of Corporal Thomas Hedley, accepted Cpl. Hedley's diploma. 
  • Private Roy E. Marois, U.S. Army, World War II, who was killed in action in the Battle of Hedgerows in Normandy, France on July 11, 1944. He attended Heatly School from 1927-1938, but left before graduating. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on Oct. 28, 1942. Joseph Nolet, Green Island UFSD Board of Education member, accepted Pvt. Marois's diploma. 
  • Private James J. Poleto, U.S. Army, World War I, who was deployed to France during World War I and fought in the Battle of St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. He attended Heatly School before transferring to La Salle Institute in Troy, where he ended up leaving prior to graduation. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in September of 1917. Jane Poleto, daughter of Private James Poleto, accepted Pvt. Poleto's diploma. 
  • Private John J. Shook, U.S. Army, World War II, who was deployed to the New Guinea Campaign as a Heavy Machine Gunner in World War II. He went to Watervliet Public Schools before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942. Steve Shook, son of Private John Shook, accepted Pvt. Shook's diploma.
  • Joan Shannon, U.S. Army, Pentagon, who was employed by the Pentagon and worked with classified documents throughout the course of her career. She was a student at Heatly High School, but left before graduation due to her family moving to Westhaven, Connecticut in the spring of 1947. Miss Shannon was unable to attend the event, therefore her honorary high school diploma from Heatly School will be mailed to her.

Seven individuals smiling for a group photo.

Following the presentation of diplomas, seven veterans were recognized for their valiant military efforts with several special awards. The recipients of those awards are as followed:

  • Corporal Robert E. Keenan, U.S. Army, World War II—New York State Liberty Award (Bill Keenan, son of Corporal Robert Keenan, accepted Cpl. Keenan's award)
  • Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alfred D. Trombly, U.S. Navy, Korean War—New York State Liberty Award (Michelle (Micki) Trombly, daughter of Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alfred Trombly, accepted his award)
  • Private Ulysses J. Catman, U.S. Army, World War I—Purple Heart (Kevin Catman, the great nephew of Private Ulysses Catman, accepted Pvt. Catman's award)
  • Lieutenant Justin J. Finning, U.S. Navy, Iraq/Afghanistan—NYS Medal for Merit (Lt. Justin Finning accepted his award)
  • Private. John E. Gleason, U.S. Army, World War II—Bronze Star, POW Medal (Mark Gleason, nephew of Private John E. Gleason, and Paul Kalinowski, great nephew of Private John E. Gleason, accepted Pvt. Gleason's awards.)
  • Private Roy E. Marois, U.S. Army, World War II—Bronze Star, Purple Heart (Joseph Nolet, Green Island UFSD Board of Education member, accepted Pvt. Marois's award.)
  • Technical Sergeant Joseph R. O’Connor, Jr., U.S Air Force, Operation Iraqi Freedom—NYS Medal for Merit, NYS Conspicuous Service Star (Technical Sgt. Joseph R. O'Connor, Jr. was unable to make the event, but his awards will be mailed to him.)
  • Private John J. Shook, U.S. Army, World War II—Bronze Star (Steve Shook, son of Private John Shook, accepted Pvt. Shook's award.)

"When we honor one veteran, we honor all veterans," said Mr. Mullins, a Green Island resident that helped organize the event.

“The ceremony was a great way for us to honor veterans who sacrificed their education for our country. We are humbled and honored to be able to recognize these veterans for their sacrifices to protect and serve future generations,” said Kimberly Ross, Superintendent of Schools.

Green Island UFSD has been working with the American Legion for the past four years to honor local veterans who left their education behind in order to serve the nation. This effort, known as “Operation Recognition”, is just one of the many ways Green Island recognizes and thanks its veterans for their military service. 

Eight individuals holding military service medals and smiling for a group photo.

 

*Check out local media coverage of the event:*

News 10 ABC:

https://www.news10.com/community/veterans-voices/local-veterans-honored-in-green-island/

WNYT, News Channel 13:

https://wnyt.com/top-stories/green-island-veterans-honored-during-ceremony