A tradition made to honor heroes.
State Senator Marty Golden hosted his annual Veterans Day Breakfast Ceremony on Monday, November 9 at the Bay Ridge Manor, 476 76th Street.
Golden was joined by United States Army Garrison Commander Joseph Davidson and a number of veterans, all there to honor five Gold Star families whose sons lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as retired United States military service dogs.
“We thank you very much for the service of your sons and we appreciate you coming to this. It’s a very difficult to come time and time again. There’s still a large hole in the heart,” said Golden. “However, the camaraderie of the brothers and sisters of the military will be with you for the rest of your lives. This is your family.”
New Mexico native and U.S. Marine staff Sergeant Christopher Diaz — killed while conducting combat operation in Afghanistan in September of 2011 — was one of the afternoon’s honorees. Diaz was considered one of the most experienced dog handlers in the Marine Corps.
“Always along with Christopher’s deployment was his best friend, and partner Dino, a military working dog that helped save the lives of Staff Sergeant Diaz and others, discovering live bombs,” said Golden.
Dino now lives the Diaz family, on hand to accept the award.
“On behalf of my wife and me and our two other sons, Chris and Dino, thank you so much for acknowledging us as parents and our son as a Marine,” said Christopher’s father, Salvador. “We are truly blessed to be in a room with such fine ladies and gentlemen.”
U.S. Marine Corporal Keaton Coffey, who lost his life in May of 2012 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, was also honored and represented by his father, Grant. “I would love my boy to be here with me,” he said. “God had different plans. He’s in heaven waiting for me and I can’t wait for that day.”
Another canine, Caezar, was honored along with Officer Juan Rodriguez. According to Golden, the dog helped sniff explosives and had been deployed three times before retiring from action in 2012. Caezar was selected as the first veteran canine to find a second career in the NYPD working routine patrol in counter-terrorism duties.
U.S. Marines Corporal David Sonka and U.S. Army Corporal Kory D. Wiens were also honored.
In addition to the awards, those families honored received handmade cards from students at schools throughout the borough.
“The community has a high number of veterans that live here and we’re still number one in the nation when it comes to recruiting and bringing in men and women into military service in all branches and that’s something we should be proud of,” said Golden. “Thank you once again for your service.”dents throughout the borough.
“The community has a high number of veterans that live here and we’re still number one in nation when it comes to recruiting and bringing in military men and women into military service in all branches and that’s something we should be proud of,” said Golden. “Thank you once again for your service.”