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The mood seemed to be shining as brightly as the September sun Sept. 14, when the 2016 Freedom Medal Winners were announced by the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association (DCVMA) at the site of the Memorial on West Chester Pike in Newtown Square. In a special morning ceremony, emceed by Guy Fizzano, U.S. Army Ret., president of the DCVMA Board, the honorees were called by name and branch of service, and asked to stand for acknowledgement. The Third Annual Freedom Medal Winners will be officially honored at the Annual Freedom Medal Dinner, slated for 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, at Springfield Country Club.
The 2016 honorees will include Samuel J. Coco, Army Air Corps;, David Fortune, USMC, Samuel Malandra, Army, June Howard Micozzie, Air Force, Richard “Dick” Phillips, Air Force and Bob Spano, USMC.
Awards for Outstanding Contribution To Education will be presented to Kathleen Breslin and Jeffrey LaMonica. Breslin is the Delaware County Community College (DCCC) Vice President for Institutional Advancement and exectutive director of the DCCC Educational Foundation. LaMonica is an associate professor of history at DCCC.
The award for Outstanding Community Involvement will be presented to Wilbur and Betty Lea of the Henderson Foundation. The award will be accepted on their behalf by Bill Taylor.
The Freedom Medal Commander’s Award will be presented to Pa. State Representative Bill Adolph by the Marple Newtown Combined Veterans Alliance.
The 2016 President’s Award will be presented to Linda Houldin, DCVMA founding member and longtime supporter of Veterans. Houldin is the executive director of the Delaware County Historical Society and has been instrumental in expanding the Memorial’s progress and visibility.
Fox 29 weather anchor Sue Serio will be the master of ceremonies at November’s Freedom Medal Dinner, which is sponsored by DCVMA and Delaware County Council. Rock and Roll legend /U.S. Army Veteran Bobby Rydell will be a special guest. Rydell, who is a DCVMA Advisory Board member performed at the Rocking For The Troops concert last year to benefit the DCVMA Educational Program.
Honorees were nominated by a committee comprised of members of VFW Post 7390, the Gen. Smedley Butler Detachment Unit 741, and American Legion Post 805.
Springfield Police Chief Joseph Daly, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and DCVMA Board Member, explained the extensive process in choosing the Freedom Medal honorees each year.
“Every year we do a lot of research, and I think the 2016 honorees are outstanding, as people, as Veterans and in their service to our country,” Daly stated. “I hope everyone in our community will try to come out to honor our recipients and show them how grateful we are for their sacrifices and service.”
The 2014 honorees include Ralph Galati, Cornelius McGinley, Thomas McGovern, Kristie Robson, Walter and Jayne Garrison Rick DeBenedictis and Karen Carlson. The 2015 honorees include Charles “Bud” Burns, Rusty Carter, John Cook, Rev. Dr. Wylie Johnson, William Hilton, the late Marge Lawrence, Dr. Merle Horowitz and Anna Wright.
2016 Honoree Bob Spano remarked after the ceremony, “I am so surprised and so humbled to be honored with this award. In my opinion, these Freedom Medals should be group awards because every veteran should be honored like this. I will accept this honor on behalf of all the other Vietnam Veterans.”
Other speakers at Wednesday’s ceremony included board member Joe Daly, who is credited with originating the idea for the Delaware County Freedom Medal dinner; Dennis Murphy, US Army Veteran, who spoke about Casket Flag Raisings at the Memorial at 6 pm on the second Saturday of each month; and Linda Houldin, who spoke about the Memorial’s Educational Program, acknowledging a group of homeschooled students in attendance. The ceremony’s opening prayer was led by retired Army Col. Rev. Wylie Johnson, DCVMA chaplain.
“I really want to thank the Veterans committees and organizations who helped us choose the honorees for this year,” Houldin said. “I congratulate each and every one of them and we all look forward to this year’s dinner on November 17when they receive the recognition they deserve. I also want to thank everyone who makes the Freedom Medals and this beautiful Memorial possible, including our Veterans, Delaware County officials, Claude deBotton and family, all the donors and the local community. I thank God for every one of them and their support. Our Veterans should want for nothing. We need to thank them and honor them every single day.”
To purchase 2016 DCVMA Freedom Dinner tickets, to sponsor a veteran’s dinner ticket, for tribute book ads and sponsorship or for more information, visit www.