Honored Veterans

In recognition of their service, the Citizen of the Year event honors veterans by awarding scholarships to high school seniors in the names of Stamford veterans who have selflessly served our country and our community.

Since 2005, 101 Stamford veterans have been honored by awarding annual scholarships in the name of Stamford veterans who have selflessly served our country and our community.

2024 Honored Veterans

William S. Baer

U.S. Army

Born and raised in Stamford, Bill graduated from Stamford’s Rippowam High School in 1983. After high school, Bill went to Bryant College. During his time at Bryant, he received a U.S. Army Reserve Commission with a Military Intelligence branch specialty. 

After 13 years of working as an Internal Auditor and Corporate Accountant, Bill changed career paths and became a member of the Connecticut State Police as a State Trooper. While as a State Trooper, he served at Fort Totten for the rest of his Army Reserve career as part of the 77th Regional Readiness Command. He was a Lieutenant Colonel with responsibilities for all Army Reserve units in New York and New Jersey. Over the years he served in a variety of roles with increasing responsibilities and retired as the Executive Officer of the 1st Mobilization Support Group in May 2013 after 26 years of service. Bill retired as a Connecticut State Trooper in 2021 after 20 years of service.

Now retired from both the Army Reserve and Connecticut State Police, Bill is employed at Greenwich Hospital. He continues to reside in Stamford with his wife, Lisa, and two children, Alexa and Lewis.

Thomas J. Finn, Jr.

U.S. Army

In 1990, Thomas enlisted and completed Basic Training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. From 1991 to 1993, he served on active duty with the 1205th Transportation Railway Battalion in support of Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Desert Sortie at the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, NC. He worked in various positions for the railroad of the United States Army, traveling back and forth between ports and exchange yards, moving ammunition and equipment. During this mobilization, it was calculated that his team moved over a half million rail cars and over thirty trillion pounds of explosive weight covering about sixty thousand miles on the rail. 

Following the Gulf War, Thomas’ focus became training. He was recognized for outstanding service on numerous occasions by the 76th Division, 94th Brigade, and the Military Traffic Management Command. As the Platoon Sergeant for Deployment and Distribution Teams in the Middle East, he would be challenged with container operations within a region that was full of enemy hostilities. The ultimate reward for Thomas’ training and leadership was recognized in July 2010 when the U.S. Army promoted him to Master Sergeant. He has trained and instructed thousands of soldiers and mentored junior instructors. 

Thomas completed his service in 2022 after 32 years. He also worked as a Metro-North Conductor. He currently lives in Stamford and has four wonderful children. He is Commander of his local American Legion and Senior Vice Commander of the local VFW.

Walter Koopman

U.S. Navy

Walter was born in 1946 and raised in Stamford, CT. He attended Hart Elementary, Burdick Junior Middle School, and Stamford High School.

After graduating high school Walter joined the United States Navy in July 1964. As a Petty Officer First Class, his job in the Navy was as a Communication/Cryptologic Technician Operator, serving as an expert in airborne, shipborne, and land-based radar signals. Walter went on to work with Naval Communication Training Centers and Naval Security Group Activity both in the US and abroad. 

After serving 24 years and four months, Walter retired in November 1988.

Daniel Molina

U.S. Marine Corps

Born and raised in Stamford, Daniel graduated from Westhill High School in 2008 where he participated in the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). Upon graduation, he departed for Marine Corps Boot Camp in Paris Island, South Carolina and graduated as a Private First Class (E-2) and was awarded platoon Iron Man.

Daniel was stationed in Camp Pendleton, CA, and served with the 1st Battalion 5th Marines in 2009. Over his nine-year military career, he served numerous roles and was promoted several times to Corporal and Sergeant. His tour of duties took him to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010, the entire Pacific region – Japan, Thailand, Korea, and the Philippines in 2012, and to Australia from 2014-2015, before returning to the United States. For the last three years of his military career, he served as a Corporals Course Faculty Advisor and Staff Sergeant at the Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Academy.

As a civilian, utilizing his military benefits, Daniel graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He currently resides in Temecula, California with his wife and four children and works as a Staff Engineer for Leighton Engineering, a geotechnical firm.

Thomas Patterson

U.S. Army

Thomas was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1970. He attended New York City Technical College while working as Signal Foreman with MTA Metro-North Railroad. At 21 he joined the United States Army during the Gulf War Desert Storm. 

During his several deployments, Thomas dedicated his humanitarian aid to restoring the vital needs of the citizens of Hawaii and Guam after Hurricane Iniki. By the end of his service, Thomas had garnered 11 awards including the National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and Combat Lifesaver Certification. 

After being honorably discharged from the military, Thomas relocated to Connecticut in 1996 and continued his work for MTA. He married the love of his life Bridget Robinson and created a life with her and their two daughters Malia and Maya. 

Thomas previously served as a member of the Trustee and Usher Boards for Bethel A.M.E. Church and as VP of the Stamford Community Action Collective. He also participated in years of community service for The Jackie Robinson Park, and Toys for Tots. 

Currently, Thomas maintains his post as Senior Vice Commander for the American Legion Post 3, is a member of the Stamford Veterans Resource Center Executive Board and is on the Stamford Veteran’s Council. He has received several awards including Outstanding Leadership and Commitment to the SVRC, notation of Mental Health and Crisis help, volunteerism for the Stamford veteran community, and Special Recognitions from Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Jim Himes, Mayor Caroline Simmons, and Chief of Police Timothy Shaw.

Anthony Venezio

U.S. Army

Anthony is a lifelong Stamford resident. He attended St. Mary’s, Westover, Burdick Jr. High and graduated from J.M. Wright Technical School. 

He received his draft notice in April 1971 during the Vietnam War. After several rapid promotions during his time in training, he received orders to go to Korea later that year. For his exemplary service, he received an Army Commendation Medal for assisting in eliminating mail fraud, black-marketing activities, and developing a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for mail runs. 

Anthony returned to Stamford in December 1972 and worked for the US Postal Service at the Main Post Office on Atlantic Street. Soon after in 1974, he received orders to report to the Pentagon for two weeks of Reserve Training and was assigned as a clerk in the office of the Chief of Army Reserve His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Korea), and the U.S. Army Commendation Medal. He was fully discharged from the U.S. Army in May 1977. 

Currently, Anthony is a member of the American Legion and the VFW Springdale Post 9617, where he is a lifetime member and a Trustee. He has been married for over 51 years to his wife Un Cha who he met in Korea in 1972. He enjoys spending time with their son John and his wife Electra and helping to take care of their two grandchildren Emily, 15, and John Jr., 12.

©2024 City of Stamford Citizen of the Year | 48 Putter Drive, Stamford, CT 06907