Lt. Gov. Wyman and Dept. of Veterans Affairs Honor CT Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2016
(Hartford, CT) – Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Commissioner Sean M. Connolly, and Major General Thaddeus Martin, Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, today inducted ten veterans into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame. Established in 2005, the Veterans Hall of Fame recognizes the continued service of Connecticut veterans who have made significant contributions to their communities after leaving military service.
“Connecticut is deeply grateful for these heroes whose service to our nation didn’t end when their tour of duty did,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “They are community volunteers, youth mentors, and civic leaders who embody the true spirit of service, and we thank them for all they have done to strengthen our cities and towns. Today’s induction speaks in small measure to just how appreciative we are of their military service and their continued good works.”
“These men and women have demonstrated the highest level of patriotism in defense of our country and the freedoms we enjoy. We are grateful for their service to our nation - both in uniform and in their civilian lives. This honor is one small way in which we recognize the service of our veterans and the steadfastness with which they have performed their duties,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy.
Currently 126 names appear on the Hall of Fame commemorative plaque that is displayed in the concourse of the State Capitol Building in Hartford.
"This award honors veterans who continued to serve their communities after they’ve hung up the uniform," said Commissioner Connolly. "The Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame has honored many fine men and women for their contributions and accomplishments that have enriched our state in countless ways."
"Tonight we recognize ten extraordinary men and women who, after their uniformed service, dedicated themselves to lives of continuous service to communities, our state, and our nation," said Maj. Gen. Martin. "I am honored to be among these great Americans as they serve as role models for us all."
The names of the 2016 inductees were announced in November. To be eligible for the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, the nominee must have an honorable discharge from military service and continue to make significant contributions to the community.
The Class of 2016:
Robert Joseph Burns, U.S. Navy, Naugatuck
Robert Burns served during both World War II and the Korean conflict. After the military, Mr. Burns became a member of the VFW, Catholic War Veterans, and the American Legion where he is a mentor and advocate for other veterans. For 18 years, he has served as fundraiser, food drive volunteer, and an active member of the Veterans Who Care Committee, an organization founded in 1989 to assist Connecticut veterans and their families in need of essential services. Mr. Burns also volunteered for 45 years as a coach, umpire, and referee for youth sports in Naugatuck, and on a committee dedicated to Naugatuck beautification efforts.
Francis Cletus Conahan, U.S. Navy, Ledyard
After leaving the military, Francis (Frank) Conahan was a member of the Ledyard Volunteer Emergency Squad for over 10 years. He participated in over 300 calls and received five Stork awards for assisting in the successful delivery of five healthy babies. The Conahan’s are also licensed foster parents and certified to provide respite care, handle emergency placement, and care for children with complex medical needs. They have taken in 126 children ranging in the age of 2 weeks to 10 years old. Mr. Conahan has potentially helped save nearly 1200 lives through blood and platelet donation, and he assists in other community efforts including volunteering for a variety of nonprofit organizations.
Bradford (Brad) Davis, U.S. Marine Corps, Bloomfield
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Brad Davis has made countless contributions to the veteran’s community in Connecticut. Most notably, he worked in partnership with Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman to establish the Connecticut Wall of Honor at the Capitol to recognize the military men and women killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Mr. Davis is also affiliated with a number of veteran’s organizations and participates in numerous parades and ceremonies. As a radio personality, Mr. Davis plays a key role in the annual Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Radiothon Fundraiser. Since 2003, over $2 million dollars have been raised to benefit CT Children’s Hospital in Hartford. He also collects food for community pantries and shelters.
Archie Elam, U.S. Army, Stamford
A graduate of West Point and a veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Archie Elam continues to exemplify the qualities of a true community leader. He is a life member of the VFW and was recently elected as the Commander of the Fairfield County District representing 2300 veterans. He also held the position of CT VFW’s State Surgeon and led their statewide visitation and outreach programs for veterans in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities. Mr. Elam coordinated the Fairfield County VFW fundraisers and managed a community project where 100 volunteers planted 4,500 flags on the graves of veterans. In addition, he is involved in youth education and sponsored two Eagle Scout projects that built computer databases for veterans cemeteries.
Richard Iannucci, U.S. Navy, Stratford
After a long military career, Richard Iannucci now volunteers at the helm of Port 5, a Bridgeport organization that advocates for and celebrates veterans. As the Commander, Mr. Iannucci runs the business and motivates volunteerism and community service, as well as leading fundraising efforts. He works closely with other nonprofit organizations to raise awareness of the need for programs and services to support veterans including job training, education, and skill-building. He actively coordinates Veterans Day and Memorial Day efforts in the community to ensure that the service and sacrifices of the men and women in the military do not go unrecognized.
Paul Wm. Orstad, U.S. Navy, Norwich
Paul Orstad has 20 years of experience and leadership in the U.S. Navy and is now dedicated to mentoring young people. For over 25 years, he’s served as the volunteer chairman for the U.S. Submarine Veterans National Scholarship committee. His efforts have helped raise more $650,000 for scholarships for the children and grandchildren of veterans, enabling them to continue their education. For the past 16 years, Mr. Orstad has also led volunteers in serving more than 1,000 veterans and law enforcement officers at the annual Thanksgiving event in his community. He is also a volunteer leader with the Boy Scouts of America.
Linda S. Schwartz, U.S. Air Force, Pawcatuck
Linda Schwartz was an Air Force nurse and served during the Vietnam War. She retired in 1986 after sustaining injuries in an aircraft accident while serving as a USAF flight nurse. After her military career, she earned a Doctorate in Public Health from Yale and went on to become a subject matter expert to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on homelessness, mental health, and other issues. Dr. Schwartz was appointed to head the CT Department of Veterans Affairs in 2003, and, following her years of service to the state, was confirmed in 2014 by the U.S. Senate to serve in the federal government as the Assistant Secretary of Veteran Affairs for Policy and Planning. She also sat on several boards including the American Nurses Association and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and was only woman elected President of the National Association of State Directors of Veteran Affairs. She has been awarded multiple commendations and medals.
Salvatore Sena, U.S. Marine Corps, Newington
After his military career, Salvatore Sena joined the Marine Corps League of CT. In 2007, after serving as Adjutant and Senior Vice Commandant, he became Commandant. During this time, he was also the Detachment Chaplain and Funeral Honors Coordinator, expanding funeral honor details from 90 to over 400 per year. Mr. Sena visits the family of the deceased to assist with preparation, administrative tasks, and family support. He also sponsors a clothing drive for homeless and needy veterans, collects toys for the Toys for Tots annual drive, and distributes blankets and other items to residents at the Rocky Hill Veterans Home. Mr. Sena coordinates the annual picnic for the Cromwell Children’s Home and is the head coach for the Columbian Squires, a youth baseball team with the Knights of Columbus.
Kjell T. Tollefsen, U.S. Army, Killingworth
Kjell Tollefsen served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Since then, he has helped coordinate many special events to honor and thank veterans, including Remembrance of the Fallen; the Vietnam 50th Commemoration, and the two-day Vietnam War commemoration at the New England Air Museum; an historic event attended by more than 10,000 people. Mr. Tollefsen is also a volunteer for the Central Connecticut State University Veterans History Project which archives oral histories of wartime at the Library of Congress. He has served five times as a “Guardian” and team leader for American Warrior honor flights, escorting World War II Veterans from Connecticut to Washington D.C. to visit their memorial. Mr. Tollefsen is a long-time supporter of causes benefiting veterans.
Arthur Ward, U.S. Marine Corps, Bristol
Since leaving the U.S. Marine Corps, Mr. Ward has remained a dedicated advocate for veterans and has been actively involved in local veterans’ organizations, served on executive boards, and worked on committees coordinating events and services for veterans and their families. He continues to educate young people about veterans, going to schools to speak to students and raise awareness of the importance of honoring our veterans. As a Bristol councilman and mayor, Mr. Ward prioritized advocacy for veterans and ensured a strong voice for programs and services that assist veterans and their families. He continues to work with young servicemen and women, providing support as they prepare for deployment.
The Veterans Hall of Fame is administered by the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs and the Connecticut Military Department. Residents are encouraged to make nominations to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2017 when the application process commences late next summer.
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Office of Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman