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By Lacey Gardner

Andrew Swarthout to be inducted into NYS Veterans’ Hall of Fame

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NYS Senator Tom O’Mara to induct the Vietnam Veteran from Yates County

Statewide virtual ceremony on Thursday, local recognition scheduled for Veterans Day in Penn Yan   

Penn Yan, N.Y., November 8—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats) will induct Andrew Swarthout of Yates County, a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran and mainstay of local veterans’ organizations, into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame on Thursday.

Swarthout will represent O’Mara’s 58th Senate District and be among approximately 60 veterans from throughout the state inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.  

He was nominated for this year’s induction by Yates County resident Kathy Prendergast.

Senators will honor their respective 2023 inductees through a virtual ceremony that will be launched on Thursday, November 9, beginning at 11:00 a.m. The 2023 Veterans’ Hall of Fame virtual induction ceremony can be viewed on the Senate’s main website, www.nysenate.gov, as well as on O’Mara’s Senate website, www.omara.nysenate.gov.

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O’Mara will also recognize Swarthout at a local ceremony as part of the Yates County Bicentennial and Veterans Celebration Gala on Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, at Seasons on Keuka Lake at Hampton Inn (110 Mace Street, Penn Yan). The gala begins at 5:00 p.m. and O’Mara’s presentation is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the event.

O’Mara said, “It is truly an honor to induct Andy Swarthout into the Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame to ensure that his service and his commitment to area veterans will always be remembered. I remain grateful that the New York State Senate provides this annual opportunity to salute the lives of our local veterans who have made such a difference for our communities, our state, and the United States of America. Andy served our nation in Vietnam with great courage and distinction. Then he came back home to Yates County where he has remained committed to the critical work of honoring and assisting his fellow veterans and their families. He’s made a great difference in so many lives and I am proud, through the Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame, to express our collective gratitude and respect.”

The Senate established its online Veterans’ Hall of Fame in 2005 and, including this year, has inducted more than 500 veterans. The Hall salutes New York veterans for their service in the United States Armed Forces and their civilian accomplishments.

Swarthout’s full Hall of Fame biography follows:

Andrew Swarthout of Yates County, New York served in the United States Army, with the 1st Cavalry Division, during the Vietnam War.

Andy achieved the rank of Specialist 4 and served as a Combat Medic from 1965 to 1966, including on helicopter crews in major battles rescuing wounded soldiers and administering medical aid, such as the battle at Ia Drang later made famous in the bestselling book “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young: Ia Drang – The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam” and subsequent major motion picture. 

He has been highly decorated for his service and bravery, and is a recipient of numerous medals and commendations, including two recently awarded Bronze Star Medals (BSM), as well as the following: Vietnam Award of Gallantry; Combat Medical Badge; Vietnam Service Medal; Presidential Unit Citation; Good Service Medal; and New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.

Following his combat service in Vietnam, Andy returned home to Yates County where he has long played an integral role in serving his fellow veterans, local veterans’ organizations, and his community at large. His community service has included being a longstanding member and officer of the Johnson-Costello American Legion Post 355 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 745, Captain of the American Legion/VFW Honor Guard, serving as Chairman and organizing the Penn Yan Memorial Day Parade and Veterans Day ceremonies, serving as the Grand Marshall and Master of Ceremonies for numerous local veterans observances, assisting the Keuka College Veterans Day Ceremony, and organizing hundreds of military funerals.

Andy received the “Legionnaire of the Year Award” from the New York State American Legion in 2018 and was also presented with a “Lifetime Membership Award” for his contributions to the post and the needs of area veterans.

Andrew Swarthout has devoted a lifetime of sacrifice and service to our nation, to the State of New York, and to his community, one that has always been guided by an abiding and deep-rooted commitment to the well-being of his fellow veterans and their families.

O’Mara’s previous Veterans’ Hall of Fame inductees are:

> Philip C. Smith, a highly decorated Korean War combat veteran and well-known figure in Schuyler County government and veterans’ affairs (2011);

> J. Arthur “Archie” Kieffer, a World War II combat veteran and a widely admired fixture in Chemung County government as the Chemung County historian (2012);

> Painted Post Mayor and World War II combat veteran Roswell L. “Roz” Crozier, Jr. (2013);

> Anthony J. “Tony” Specchio, Sr., a distinguished Korean War veteran and widely respected for his long-standing and active service to veterans and government in Watkins Glen and throughout Schuyler County (2014);

> P. Earle Gleason, a lifelong Yates County resident and longtime director of the Yates County Veterans’ Service Agency (2016);

> Warren A. Thompson, a lifelong Steuben County resident and farmer, and a stalwart in the county’s civic and veterans affairs (2018);

> Paul C. “Digger” Vendetti of Elmira, a World War II United States Navy veteran and longtime caretaker at Woodlawn National Cemetery (2019);

> in 2021, Richard T. “Dick” Gillespie of Penn Yan, a veteran of World War II (2021); and

> last year, Dennis Dennis L. “Denny”  Wolfe, Sr. of Chemung County, a Vietnam War veteran and founder of the Vietnam War Museum in Elmira.

Other area veterans who are Hall of Fame members are Frank C. “Fritz” Pesesky, a veteran of World War II and former director of the Chemung County Veterans Service Office (2005); William K. Kastner, a Vietnam veteran and longtime director of the Steuben County Veterans Service Agency (2006); and Robert Laskaris, a highly decorated combat veteran and well-known figure in Chemung County veterans’ affairs (2008).

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