Army SFC Brian Bailey
Sergeant First Class Bailey’s military career began after graduating from Batavia High School in Batavia, Ohio. After completing One Station Unit Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, SFC Bailey began his career as a Cavalry Scout.
Before serving as the S3 NCOIC for 1-33 Cav, he served as a Platoon Sergeant in Apache Troop 1-33 Cav. SFC Bailey served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and deployed on an 11 month Joint mission partnered with US Customs and Border Protection on Operation Southern Guardian. Other assignments include duty as a Recruiter for the Eastgate Recruiting Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, as the Sniper Section Leader for 6-8 Cav 2nd IBCT 3rd ID, Senior Military Mountaineering Instructor at the Northern Warfare Training Center in Black Rapids, Alaska, Senior Scout in A Troop 5-1 Cav 1-25th SBCT in Ft. Wainwright, Alaska, Senior Scout in A Troop 4-14 Cav 172nd SBCT in Ft. Wainwright, Alaska, Bradley Gunner and Vehicle Commander B Troop 1-7 Cav 1st Cavalry Division in Ft. Hood, Texas.
SFC Bailey is a graduate of the Sabalauski Air Assault School, the United Stated Army Sniper School Mobile Training Team in FOB Speicher, Tikrit, Iraq, the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course, Ft. Benning, Georgia, the Assault Climbers Course, Military Mountaineering Instructor Qualification Course, Cold Weather Instructor Qualification Course, and the Cold Weather Leaders Course at the Northern Warfare Training Center, Black Rapids, Alaska, the Malaysian Army Combat Tracker school, the United States Army Senior Leaders Course, Ft. Benning, Georgia, Advance Leaders Course, Fort Knox, Kentucky, the Warriors Leader Course Ft. Hood, Texas, the United States Army Recruiter Course Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Master Resiliency Trainer, Ft. Jackson, SC, and the Cavalry Leaders Course, Ft. Benning, GA.
His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (8th Oak leaf cluster), the Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), the Army Good Conduct Medal (5th knot), the Armed Forces Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal (four Campaign Stars), the Afghanistan Campaign Medal (one Campaign Star), the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3rd Numeral), the Army Service Ribbon, and the Army Overseas Medal (6th Numeral), the NATO medal ISAF, The Army Valorous Unit Award, the Army Meritorious Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Army Recruiter Badge, the Drivers Badge, the Combat Action Badge, the Draper Armor Leadership Award, and the Order of St. George (Bronze Medallion). SFC Bailey is also a graduate of the University of Cincinnati cum laude.
SFC Bailey married his high school sweetheart, the former Ms. Judith Thiele. SFC Bailey and his wife of twenty two years are the parents of two daughters and two sons. Their family goal is to enjoy every day together and to travel the world wherever the Army locates them.
Army 1LT Kevin Downey
Kevin enlisted as a Private Second Class into the U.S. Army Reserves in 2004. He attended Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC and Civil Affairs Specialist Advanced Individual Training at For Bragg, NC. He was subsequently assigned to the 412th CA BN in Whitehall, OH. In early 2006 he received orders to deploy to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His five man team was stationed in Taji, Iraq. On July 4th 2006 his team was in the Taji market conducting operations when he was shot in the leg by an enemy sniper. He was evacuated to Taji Aid Station and then 10th CSH in Baghdad. He was discharged back to his company the next day. He spent the next two weeks recovering on Camp Taji. After his two week recovery he was permitted to rejoin his team on missions. On September 23rd, 2006 his vehicle was struck by a large IED. SPC Downey received multiple injuries to include broke shoulder, broken orbital bone, broken ankle, shrapnel to the face, neck, hands, and legs. SPC Downey was evacuated to 10th CSH in Baghdad and then to a field hospital in Qatar where he was suppose to recover from his injuries and return to duty. While in Qatar it was found that he had extensive tears to multiple ligaments in his right knee. He was evacuated back to Womac Medical Center at Fort Bragg. He spent the next seven months recovering. After his recovery he returned home and continued to serve with the 412th CA BN. He served on two other deployments (Horn of Africa 2008 and Operation New Dawn 2010). In 2015, now SFC Downey, transferred to 12/100th TASS BN to serve as a CA instructor. He was later promoted to MSG and served as the 38B Course Manager, serving as the Senior NCO in charge of conducting CA reclass, ALC, and SLC. In 2020 Kevin started the process to Commission as an Army Nurse in AMEDD as a 66S (Critical Care Nurse). He was Commissioned in August of 2021 as a 1LT and transferred to the 311th Field Hospital in Columbus, OH which is where he continues to serve. He has been a member of the U.S. Army Reserves for 18 years. His awards include Bronze Star, Purple Heart (2nd award), Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (5th award), Combat Action Badge, and multiple other service citation. He is married to Marie Downey and has two children. Adeline age 5 and Declan age 1. He resides in southern Ohio and works for Kettering Health in Dayton, OH as a Mobile Intensive Care Unit RN.
Marine Sgt Larry Emery
Larry served a total of six years in the United States Marine Corps. That was four years active duty and two years of inactive reserves. He is a Proud Parris (Paradise Island) Marine that traveled south for the winter in November of 1962 to enjoy the beautiful island scenery and the wonderful weather. What a surprise that was! He finished his advanced infantry training at Camp Lejeune North Carolina in 1963 and was transferred to Camp Pendleton California as his permanent duty station.
He served two tours in Vietnam as a squad leader in 1965 and 1966 and later received a Purple Heart medal, a Silver Star medal, a Presidential Citation, a meritorious promotion to Sergeant E-5 and other various Commendations and awards. He also served in Hawaii, Japan, Okinawa, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines. After his overseas duty he was returned to the States, and was stationed once again at beautiful “Paradise Island” as an assistant Brig Warden, but life was a great deal better there this time than before. He was discharged in November of 1966 from the Marine Corps and returned home
Larry joined the Masonic lodge and advanced to the 32nd degree in the York Rite and become a Knights Templar. He also joined the American Legion Post #44, the V.F.W. Post 3747. The subordinate Plain Grange#2, The County Grange, The Ohio State Grange and The National Grange.
He then joined The Military Order of The Purple Heart chapter #699 Chartered in Summit County. He is currently the Master of Plain Grange, the Commander of Chapter #699 M.O.P.H. He volunteers every week at the Veterans Service Commission in Akron assisting Veterans and families in need of benefits, health care and housing among other needs. He was also inducted into The State of Ohio Hall of Fame for Valor..
Larry worked in customer service and sales for Republic Steel Corporation in Canton for 24 years and then went to work for the United States Postal Service for 16 years before retiring.
He has been married to his wife Jean since 1967 and we will celebrate our 55th anniversary on July 15th 2022. We have a son Brian in Pennsylvania who is a Pastor, a daughter-in-law Kelly who is a special education teacher and they have three children Philip, Nate and Lena. We also have a Daughter Leah who is an accounting professor at James Madison University in Virginia and is married to Jeremy Kratz who is an accountant and they have four children. They are Maddie, Sophie, Anderson and Nolan. And within those seven grandchildren there are two,(yes two) sets of twins.
So, how can it get better than this? My life has been richly blessed and I am forever thankful.
Army SFC Christopher Figura
Mr. Figura started his career in the U.S. Air Force where he served with Security Forces for six years then transferred to the U.S. Army where he served for 15 years as Military Police, retiring in 2006. Over the course of his military service his deployments included Desert Storm (Iraq), Bosnia (IFOR), and other various locations working for the counter drug task force alongside U.S. Customs, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Marshals. Upon completion of his military service, Mr. Figura attended Maryville University where he earned his B.A. in Rehabilitative services in December 2012. During this time, he worked as a Counselor at the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center (ARC) and later became the Program Director while pursuing his master’s degree in Rehabilitative Counseling which he completed in December 2014. Immediately following graduation, Mr. Figura accepted a position with St. Patrick Center where he worked as a Counselor and Case Manager with the HERO program and Veterans Transitional Housing Program. Mr. Figura joined the Metro East Vet Center with duty at Scott AFB in June 2015. He has over 13 years of experience of mental health counseling services.
In my spare time I enjoy biking, hiking, and anything that has to do with meeting other veterans in a social setting. I enjoy spending time with my wife and three kids, getting out with them enjoying what nature has to offer!
Being part of the vet center has helped me to appreciate how important it is to help other people, it’s what helps me to stay on a positive track!
Marine Sgt Jesse Gilmer
Hello, my name is Jesse Gilmer and I am a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. I served active duty from 2004-2008 as an infantryman (0311). During that time period I deployed 3 times to Iraq and have been blown-up more times than I can count, but have somehow managed to escape unscathed, at least visibly.
I served with 2nd LAR down in Camp LeJeune, NC for my entire service and when not deployed we worked up for more deployments. I extended my time in service to deploy with my unit for my 3rd tour.
After I separated from the military I was lost for a bit, deciding what I wanted to do with my life. Eventually I ended up going to the Police Academy and obtaining my Act 120 certificate and shortly after, I went to the University of Phoenix online where I earned my Associates in Psychology my Bachelors in Security Management and Organization.
My police career never got started and I ended up working for East Penn Manufacturing, a world leader in battery production for a variety of applications. I worked there as a foreman in the COS department 2014-2021 when I made the decision to make a move to Carpenter Technologies, a specialty stainless steel producer. At Cartech (it’s more common name), I am an Area Maintenance Manager.
I have been married since May of 2016 to a girl I knew and had hung out with since high school, Kera Gilmer. Since our marriage, we have had 2 beautiful children, Jayce (4) and Peyton (3).
Army SFC Steven Hoover
SFC Steven Hoover is a prior Civil Affairs Team SGT. His last duty station was with the 12th of the 100th division as a Civil Affairs advance and senior leader course Instructor. Stephen was assigned as part of a detachment from the 412th Civil Affairs battalion in Whitehall Ohio as a Team SGT in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Steven was deployed to Iraq between 2005 to 2006. In one operation in Rawah he was setting up a security perimeter around a safe zone. The safe zone would allow the Iraqi people to vote on their new constitution. While conducting a perimeter sweep of the area several propane type IED’s were detonated sending shrapnel in all directions. Steven sustained only a minor injury and refused any medical care staying that it was not serious and that he could certainly treat himself.
Steven retired after 27 years of service having served his first 10 years as an Airborne Infantryman and deploying to Iraq in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Steven returned to the military as an Army Reservist in 2003 after the global war on terror started and reclassified as a civil affairs specialist. After his deployment to Iraq, Steven earn his commercial pilots license with multiple readings and then earned a BS in criminal justice. Steven now lives in Beavercreek Ohio with his wife of 18 years and two young boys.
“The warrior weekend was something I had not been aware of, and was brought into it by a good friend last year. I got to meet a lot of wonderful people and to show off my costuming skills as a fictional Star Wars Mandalorian.
Army SSG James Johnson
SSG James Johnson, Ret. is from Lake Charles, Louisiana and served in the LA Army National Guard. In 2004, his unit was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq and James served as an Infantry Squad Leader. While on patrol on January 10th, 2005, James was severely wounded when the vehicle in which he was riding was struck by a huge roadside bomb. After being medevaced out, he spent the next year recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center. His wounds included a broken right knee, four broken bones in his back, shrapnel wounds, a TBI, heavy inhalation burns, and a small tear in his spinal cord. An addition to his story is that while he was deployed and recovering in the hospital his, then three year old daughter, was back home fighting leukemia. She was declared leukemia free at eight years old after fighting it twice.
James resides in Lake Charles with his wife, Megan, and they just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. He has three children, Gracie, and twins Zoey and Declan. Tragically, Gracie passed away in 2019 from brain cancer, a direct result from the leukemia treatments she received as a child. During the lockdown of 2020, while still reeling from the loss of Gracie, James wrote an account of many of the tragedies he has been through. He is proud to share his experiences with others in hopes that they will be encouraged. Currently, he is working on his master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and plans his second career to be as a Licensed Professional Counselor working specifically with PTSD, crisis, and grief counseling.
Army SGM Jeremy Kagan
Jeremy “Jay” Kagan was born in 1978 in La Mirada California. He joined the Army in 1999 out of Los Angeles California and attending basic combat training at Fort Sill, OK. He attended advanced training at Fort Bliss, TX where he graduated in September 1999 as a 14S Stinger Missile Crew Chief.
Jeremy has held every leadership position within this branch from Stinger Team Chief, Section Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, and Proponent Sergeant Major. His broadening assignments include Drill Sergeant, Master Gunner, Instructor, and Combat Advisor.
Jeremy deployed three times, twice to Iraq, and once to Afghanistan, serving twice as a combat advisor to Iraqi and Afghan national security forces. He was injured in Iraq in 2004 and 2009. His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service medal (3OLC), the Army Commendation Medal (7OLC), and many other awards.
Jeremy is married to the former Valerie Hyatt, and they have one 11 year old son, Sean.
Air Force A1C Richard Marbes
Richard E. Marbes, a service-connected disabled veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was elected national
commander of the more than 1 million-member DAV (Disabled American Veterans) in 1993 at the
organization’s national convention in San Francisco. Following his tenure as national commander,
Marbes was appointed to the board of directors for the organization’s Charitable Service Trust in
1997, where he currently serves as president.
Marbes enlisted in the Air Force in 1955. Following training as an airborne radio operator, he was
assigned to the Mutual Defense Assistance Program in Germany. After completion of the program,
Marbes was assigned to medical evacuation and troop carrier squadrons in France and Germany. He
himself was medically evacuated back to the U.S. following an injury which resulted in amputation
of his right leg. He was subsequently retired in 1958.
Marbes is a life member of DAV Chapter 3, Green Bay, Wisconsin. He has held most appointed
and elected positions in that chapter, including commander. In 1978, Marbes’ fellow Wisconsin
veterans honored his service to veterans, naming him Wisconsin Disabled Veteran of the Year.
In 1987, after many years in the printing industry, Marbes decided to devote the balance of his
career to assisting fellow service-connected veterans full-time. He served as the DAV Department
of Wisconsin adjutant from 1987 to 1998. After his tenure as department adjutant, he became the
department’s service director, coordinating its Transportation Network program.
Marbes also served as a member of DAV’s National Hospital and Medical Services Committee
from 1985 to 1987, and is a past member of its Constitution and Bylaws Committee. Additionally,
Marbes oversees the northern region of Wisconsin’s DAV Transportation Network, and continues
to serve as a volunteer driver to get veterans to and from their medical appointments.
Army SFC Centra “Cece” Mazyck
Centra “Cece” Mazyck grew up in a military family. Her mother, uncles, and brother all served in the military. She was born in Charleston, South Carolina. She lived in New York City while her mother was stationed there, then moved back to St. Stephan, South Carolina, where she attended high school.
In 1994, she attended Bauder Fashion College in Atlanta, Georgia, and was passionate about the fashion industry. One year after attending college, she joined the Army Reserve. In August she attended basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. There, she completed training as a human resource manager. She returned to Bauder Fashion College for one more year and graduated with an associate’s degree to pursue becoming a fashion stylist.
In 1997, Mazyck transitioned into active duty with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Mazyck enjoyed the camaraderie of the Army and re-enlisted. After eight years of service, she achieved the rank of sergeant first class.
While jumping out of the C-130 Hercules aircraft, she and another jumper became entangled in their parachutes at a high altitude and were unable to weave out in time. Upon landing, she burst her L1 and L2 vertebrae, becoming paralyzed from the waist down. After undergoing rehabilitation and physical therapy, she was released from the hospital in 2004.
Mazyck moved back to Columbia and returned to school. She graduated in 2010 with a sociology degree from the University of South Carolina.
Mazyck is a Paralympian. In 2005, she competed in the first National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Later, after intense training, she competed in the javelin competition at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. In 2013, she earned a bronze medal at the IPC Athletics World Championships in France.
Mazyck shares her inspiring story around the world as a motivational speaker. She is also an ambassador for the Disabled American Veterans and earned the DAV Freedom Award.
Army SPC Gary Muntner
Gary Muntner is a combat veteran who served as a SP-4 during the Vietnam War. After his service, he worked for the United States Postal Service for over 20 years before retiring. He now enjoys fishing and spending time outdoors. He is a Purple Heart recipient and is learning to live with his ptsd. He is a proud life member of the DAV.
Army CPL John Rego
John Rego grew up in Maryland, in a suburb of DC. He joined the Army September 7, 2001, 4 days before 9/11. He served in the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment as a Special Operations Infantryman. With his unit, he deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. Early in the Iraq war, he was critically injured in the town of Haditha. The building that he was clearing collapsed on him, burying him alive. When his team was able to pull him out of the rubble, he wasn’t breathing, and didn’t have a heartbeat. Fortunately he served with some of the best trained and relentless soldiers in the military. They were able to bring him back to life, and ultimately save him.
John shattered his humerus, broke both hips, and ruptured his bladder, intestines, and stomach. He spent just over three months recovering in Walter Reed and an additional year in outpatient recovery.
John has since retired from the military and now lives in Fenwick Island, Delaware with his three children Johnny (9), Raelee (5), and Lilly (4). He runs a business building custom beach homes. For recreation he exercises a lot, competes in ultra-marathons, goes boating, fishes offshore, and loves enjoying nature with his children.
Army SFC Michael Schlitz
After 14 years of service, Michael Schlitz medically retired from the United States Army in March of 2010. Throughout his military career, he served in several positions from Rifleman to Platoon Sergeant. In addition to his Purple Heart, Schlitz has received several Meritorious Service Medals, Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medals, and Good Conduct Awards among others, each a reflection of his proud service to our country.
In February of 2007, Schlitz and his platoon were in Southern Baghdad performing a basic road-clearing mission to identify Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) when two artillery shells attached to a propane tank exploded. Though Schlitz was thrown from the vehicle and survived, the blast killed his driver, gunner and medic. Schlitz not only lost his platoon brothers that day, he also sustained burns on 85% of his body, lost the vision in his left eye and both of his hands. In the years following that life-altering moment, Schlitz has personally committed to “live a better life for the friends he lost that day; a life they would be proud of.”
In his mission to give back to Veteran and Ranger Communities, Schlitz regularly travels the country for speaking engagements and Veteran events. Since the injury, he has returned to Iraq three times to mentor wounded and non-wounded veterans, supported the establishment of multiple new non-profit organizations, and had the honor of speaking in front of Congress on issues facing Veterans today. Schlitz will continue his quest until every service member comes home safely. It’s a demanding quest, but he’s claimed he will “gladly carry that torch now.”
Army SPC Robert Stewart
Robert served in the US Army from 1969-1972. He served with the 25th Infantry Division, 1/27th Wolfhounds in Vietnam/Cambodia from 1970-1971. He was seriously wounded in Cambodia in June of 1970.
His medals include the Bronze Star with “V” device and oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation with “V” device and oak leaf cluster, the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation for Valor, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
Robert is a 100% disabled combat wounded veteran. He has served as the President of the Lucas County Veterans Service Commission and President of the Ohio State Association of Veterans Service Commission.
In 2007, under his leadership, Robert transformed the Department of Veterans Affairs from the office of Veterans Affairs. Robert is an inductee to the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor, Class of 2009, #160. Robert is the author of the poem, The Silver Rose, which is to be displayed by the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC. The poem was written to honor his brothers who were exposed to Agent Orange in “The Nam”. After being discharged Robert worked for 44 years as an engineer on the N&S Railroad.
Robert has been married to Rose Stewart for 41 years. They have three sons; Patrick who served and is a retired Senior Master Chief USCG’ Jacob who works for TESCO’ and Zachary who is a Physiological Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. He is a Life member of The First Cavalry Division Air Mobile, he served with them in Vietnam after he was Wounded and the 25th Infantry Division went home. He is also a life member of the 1/27 Wolfhounds Association.
Army SGT Glenn West
Glenn West served 2 years active duty in the United States Army. He was drafted in 1968.
He served 1 tour of duty in Vietnam with the 82nd Air Borne Division. He was wounded March 1969 and received the Purple Heart, and several other service awards.
After Vietnam Glenn was sent to Fort Dix Army Hospital, in New Jersey where he spent 7 months in recovery.
Glenn was honorably discharged from the United States Army in November 1969.
He achieved the rank of sergeant E-5.
After the service he returned to General Motors as a tool maker and later as an engineer, retiring after 33 years.
In 2014 Glenn joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart and became the Americanism Officer for the State of Ohio and Chapter 31 Dayton, Ohio. He joined the Purple Heart Honor Guard and has served at many funerals and city dedications.
Glenn is married to Mary who happened to be his Centerville High School sweetheart. They will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary on August 7th, also National Purple Heart Day. They have 1 son Michael, Daughter-law Tisha, and 1 granddaughter Allison, and a great grandchild on the way.
Army SSG JD Whetstone
James Dean Whetstone Jr joined the Army in March of 2003; during the time the Iraq war started. After going to One Station Unit Training to be a Cav Scout, his first duty station was in Schwinfurt, Germany where his unit received orders to Iraq. In Dec of 2003 he was on his first deployment in Iraq when he received the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. In 2007, on his 2nd deployment he was awarded the Purple Heart from injuries sustained in an IED attack. For his 3rd deployment he was the night shift TOC NCOIC.He continued his service in the Army for 12 years reaching the rank of SSG. He was medically retired in 2014. His sons, Dmitri (15) and James III reside in El Paso, TX. He recently moved to Houston,TX from southern Oregon and is starting a car hauling/hotshoting business.