Medals for service come after 37 years

By TERRY BROWN, Staff writer

First published: Saturday, March 17, 2007

Glenville has received word he's entitled to a pocket full of medals, though they are coming 37 years after his service as a Seabee in the Vietnam War from 1968 through 1970.

DeSantis earned the awards while serving as a Navy petty officer 3rd class and a heavy equipment operator with a construction battalion at numerous base camps and outposts in Northern I Corps, south of the Demilitarized Zone in South Vietnam.

A Department of Defense Personnel Records unit notified him he earned a Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, a Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, a Vietnamese Gallantry Cross Medal, a Vietnamese Civil Actions Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon and other awards.

He also will receive a New York State Medal of Merit and a New York State Conspicuous Service Star.

He earned the awards for his performance while serving at Da Nang, Hue, Quanq Tri, Camp Carol, Dong Ha, Dien Ban and other outposts during two tours.

He worked with U.S. Marines and Army soldiers as well as South Vietnam army troops and South Korea soldiers.

The 1966 graduate of St. Patrick's High School in Catskill attended Clarkson University and the University at Albany before he enlisted in the Navy.

Between his first and second tours, he married his wife, Kathleen.

"As the second tour ended, I just wanted to get out of the combat zone as soon as possible," he said, adding his base camps and outposts came under North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong rocket, mortar and small arms fire more than 100 times.

At the end of his second 12-month tour, he had more pressing reasons to hurry home. He said he looked forward to returning to his expanded family, including his then 3-month-old daughter, Lisa, now 35, of Scotia.

He was in such a hurry to get out of the combat zone he left without his medals and awards.

A couple of years ago, several veteran friends urged him to write to the Defense Department and request his awards. More than a year ago, he sent his request along with a copy of his DD-214 discharge document. His DD-214 listed the medals he was entitled to but had never received.

Last month, he received official notice of his awards. The notification says most of the medals and ribbons will be mailed as soon as possible. The Vietnamese awards are out of stock, the letter adds.

The couple's other children are Laura DeSantis of Ballston Spa and Domenick M. DeSantis of Glenville. The veteran is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Domenick DeSantis Sr. of Catskill.

After he left the Navy, he became a construction worker. He recently retired as a construction worker and controller of Towne Construction and Paving Co. of Rotterdam.

Although he has hung up his active duty uniforms, he still serves as commander of Island X-10 Navy Seabee Veterans of America and as chaplain of the New York State Chapter Navy Seabees Veterans of America.

His chapter will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday the American Legion Post in Clifton Park.

Navy Construction Battalion veterans are eligible for membership. For information, contact Jim LesPerance Sr., 20 Herman Lane, Castleton, NY 12033-9563 or by phone at 477-2597; Ronald Porter, 2 Wollner Lane, Rotterdam Junction, NY 12150 or by phone at 887-5823.

Worthy of recognition Maj. Paul Cannon and Master Sgts. Raymond Boyea and Richard Rueda received Air Force Commendation Medals during a ceremony at the state Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing base in Scotia. They earned the award for meritorious performance while on duty.

Technical Sgts. Eleanor Barcomb, Vickie Connors, Scott Helmer, Barry MacDonald, Jason Martin, Mark Rising, Joseph Tagliavia, and Chistopher Wood earned a Commendation Medal. Staff Sgts. Michael Byerwalters, Charles Chandler, John Costello, Michael Decker, Michael Eldred, Michael Pantschyschak, Kyle Partlow, Roy Richardson, Joseph Verga, Kelly Yerg and Scott Zapisek received the award.

Senior Airman Robert Florio, Shawn Rulison and Ross Stepp earned a Commendation Medal.

Achievement recognized Command Sgt. Majs. Dennis Morgan and William Nolin received an Air Force Achievement Medal at the 109th Airlift Wing base in Scotia.

Senior Master Sgts. Kurt Garrison, Kevin Gifford and Randy Williams earned the medal.

Master Sgts. Daniel Apanasewicz, Jean Booth, Michael Davidson, John Dellio, Christine Ford, William Gizara, Judy Foley, Michael Goldman, Anthony Helstowski, Carl Hibert, Jamie Hill, Emery Jankord, Timothy Jones, Edward Kenney and Ottavio Lopiccolo earned an Achievement Medal. Master Sgts. Robert Miller, Carmelo Modesto, Gregory Peck, Lance Peck, Glen Preece, Joseph Thorpe, David Trasky, Robin Vanetten and David Vesper received an Achievement Medal.

Technical Sgts. Scott Anderson, Joseph Axe, Bret Backus, Jason Bull, Geoff Cerrone, Michael Cousineau, Keith Eriole, Michael Fresina, Andrea Glick, Craig Gronlund, Brian Irvin, Matthew Lucier, Timothy Macaulay, Randy Powell, Timothy Putnam, Kenneth Scholl, Scott Seeberger, Dustin Snyder, James Welch, Paul Zesewitz and Paul Zimokla earned an Achievement Medal.

Staff Sgts. Paul Benintende, Amanada Elwell, Jesse Endres, Eric Johnson, Terra Martin, Mark Messare, Adam Raymond, Allison Snyder and Kevin Zenner earned an Achievement Medal. Senior Airman Andrew Gawinski, Robert Gordon, Corey Shields and Ryan Wolf received the award.

News of your soldiers and units can be sent to Duty Calls, Terry Brown, Times Union, Box 15000, Albany, NY 12212 or by e-mail at