Future military members receive first 'thanks'

By Jillian Marshall

June 13, 2013 Updated Jun 13, 2013 at 10:08 AM EDT

Conklin, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When members of the military serve their country or return home, they general receive a lot of gratitude -- after the fact.

On Wednesday, the Conklin Kiwanis Club gave out the first thank yous future members of the armed forces will hear.

The First to Say Thank You event Wednesday night honored 42 students from 17 different schools across Broome and Tioga counties at Susquehanna Valley High School.

"It's special, it's my thing, it's my Army thing," said Chenango Forks senior Alexis Vesey.

It's a part of a non-profit organization called Our Community Salutes, which only has 39 ceremonies nationwide.

OCS National Executive Director Eugene Clark says it's important to shine light on these brave soon-to-be graduates.

"They don't know it yet, but they are part of 1 percent that helps defend our country and our way of life so the other 99 percent can live free lives," Clark said.

Students received certificates of honor from Broome County Executive Debbie Preston and U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-22nd).

"There are all of these senior nights and moving on ceremonies, nothing ever happened for the young men and women who some of them may not come home from their first assignment," said Conklin Kiwanis Club President Bill Krasowsky.

Conklin Kiwanis Club volunteers planned and conducted the event.

Students honored at The First to Give Thanks Event are:


Zachary Cepeda, U.S. Army
Brandyn Sloan, U.S. Air Force
Patrick Stanton, U.S. Army
Jonathan Truesdell, U.S. Army


Michael Elliott, U.S. Marines
Aaron Tiikkala, U.S. Army

Chenango Forks

Alex Vesey, U.S. Army


Joel Seymour, U.S. Marines


Andrew Kinner, U.S. Army


Tessa Brown, NYS Army National Guard
Savannah Murray, USMA, West Point

Johnson City

Ashley Blanton, U.S. Air Force


Brook Bart, U.S. Marines
Matthew Morgan, U.S. Marines
Jerrett Thomas, U.S. Marines

Newark Valley

James Raab, U.S. Marines
Michael Sarnoski, U.S. Army


Patrick Bidwell, U.S. Air Force
Cody Harbst, U.S. Marines
Kyle Johnson, U.S. Air Force
Andre Judge, U.S. Army


Joshua Decker, NYS Army National Guard
Deven Nauta, U.S. Air Force
Holly Rowe, NYS Army National Guard
Holly St. Hilaire, NYS Army National Guard
Emily Stansfield, NYS Army National Guard

Home School

Anna Carman, NYS Army National Guard


Nathan Bomysoad, U.S. Army
Dakota Lockwood, U.S. Air Force


Shaun Chamberlain, U.S. Marines
Ilioff Garrett, U.S. Marines
Andrew Gregor, U.S. Army
Brandan Griffis, U.S. Air Force
Brian Jennings, U.S. Marines
Kory Newton, U.S. Navy
Richard Pedro, U.S. Army


Cody Bellmore, U.S. Marines
Daniel Bond, U.S. Army
Jacob Colwell, U.S. Marines
Nicholas Freed, U.S. Marines
Tiffany Stoeckel, U.S. Air Force
Jack Teetor, U.S. Army

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