2016 Honored Veterans

Genie D. Camacho

U.S. Air Force

Born in Alabama, Genie Camacho’s family moved to New York City when she was seven. The oldest of three sisters, she graduated from James Monroe High and then Mt. Sinai School of Nursing. Genie joined the Air Force Reserves in 1967 working as a Psychiatric Nurse, RN, after an Air Force recruiter impressed her with a presentation on Aerovac Nursing.

“Since my specialty is Psychiatry, I was eager to maintain my nursing skills and see the world. Over my 28-year career, I have seen the world and had several endearing experiences as a Flight Nurse Instructor/Examiner.” As so she has. Missions Genie has flown over her military career include Greenland, Southwest Asia, Vietnam, Africa, Central America, Cuba, Panama, Iceland, Portugal and Desert Storm/Desert Shield. When she retired from service in 1996, it was with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Over the course of Genie’s service in the Air Force, Air Force Nurse Corps Reserve and Air Force Corps Guard, the list of medals decorations recognizing her accomplishments are numerous, ranging from Meritorious Service, Air Force Commendation and Combat Readiness to Southwest Asia Service and Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit with the most recent being awarded last October when she received the Connecticut War Time Service Medal. Genie also is a charter member of Women in Military Service for America.

Genie received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from City College of New York in 1973, and in 1974 she married Tito Camacho. The couple has a daughter, name, and two grandsons, names. Genie and Tito moved to Stamford in 1990, and she currently works part time as a Psychiatric Nurse Supervisor at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan.

Robert Cody

U.S. Army

Robert Cody, a native of Shelton, Connecticut, began his Army Service in 1982 as an Infantryman with the 26th Infantry Division. After he completed his One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and served an Anti-Armor Weapons Crewman in Combat Support Company 1-102 in Ansonia, Robert attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. Since receiving his commission, Robert has served in a variety of positions, ranging from Rifle, Anti-Armor and Mortar Platoon Leader to Infantry and Medical Company Commander and Medical Battalion Logistics Officer. In 2004 he also commanded the 118th Area Support Medical Battalion during Iraqi Freedom II.

A graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the U.S. army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College, Colonel Cody holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the Virginia Military Institute, as well as a Master of Arts in History from Southern Connecticut State College and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. His awards and decorations are numerous, including the Bronze Star Medal as well as medals for Meritorious Service, Army Commendation, Iraqi Campaign and Global War on Terrorism Service. Colonel Cody’s last assignment was with the Connecticut National Guard as Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff in Hartford.

Robert is currently the 7th grade Humanities teacher at Rogers International School in Stamford. Colonel Cody is also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9617 where he has served as its Quartermaster for the past 10 years and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is also volunteers to build stage sets for plays at Stamford High and Rogers. Robert, his wife Lisa and their two daughters, Katelyn, and Claire, live in Stamford.

Paul Levi

U.S. Army

In 1939 at the age of 14, Paul Levi fled Nazi Germany with his father through Switzerland and Italy, booking passage on a ship to New York while his mother and sister left Germany through England, arriving in New York by passage from Canada. Reunited, the family settled in Washington Heights, New York. In 1943 during his senior year at the Machine & Metal Trades Vocational High School, Paul was granted U.S. citizenship, a War Diploma and was drafted into the Army.

After completing basic training, Paul was staged in North Africa before serving with the Replacement Infantry, F Company, 7th Regiment, 3rd Division in the Battle of Anzio. As his regiment pressed towards Rome, a fellow soldier tripped on a mine, taking injuries to his leg while Paul was injured by its shrapnel. As Paul helped his buddy limp out of the field, a war photographer captured the moment, which was broadly published in New York papers. After treatment, Paul rejoined his unit, training for the Army’s amphibious landing in Southern France where he was assigned to anti-tank mine sweeping. During battle he was injured again, evacuated to England for treatment, before returning stateside for additional surgeries. He completed his service at Fort Dix in 1945, having been decorated with two purple hearts.

After receiving his BS in mechanical engineering at NYU in 1950, Paul began a 35-year career with RCA/GE in New Jersey where he was part of the engineering design team for the radar for the lunar module for the historic first landing on the Moon. In 1954 Paul married Ruth; they raised their daughter Janice in Cherry Hill where he lived until moving to Stamford in 2013 to be close to his daughter and son-in-law Jake, grandchildren Jordan and Julie, and his sister Hildegarde.

Alan R. Nielsen

U.S. Army

Alan Nielsen, who was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, was not only president of his senior class at Lincoln High, but also earned varsity letter in baseball and football. Alan attended the University of Nebraska, graduating from there with both a BS in chemical engineering and an MBA. He was not only a Distinguished Military graduate, but also student Commander of its ROTC program.

As a Distinguished Military graduate, Alan received a Regular Army commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1964, serving in active duty from then through 1969. He rose to the rank of Captain, serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. He participated in many major offensives in the Central Highlands and served there as Forward Observer, Fire Direction Officer, Executive Officer and Battery Commander. After returning from Vietnam, Alan served as an instructor for Field Grade Officers teaching them tactics appropriate for Vietnam prior to their deployment. His many service medals and decorations include two bronze stars, Army Commendation, Vietnam Service, National Defense Service and Parachute Badge-Jump Wings.

As a senior executive in the office equipment industry for more than 40 years, Alan held senior executive positions at Konica Minolta, Ricoh Corporation and Pitney Bowes. Alan moved to Stamford in 1973 and has been active in many community organizations, including the Young Artists Philharmonic Orchestra, where he served as a Board member and president, Board of the Stamford YMCA as well as participating in many annual United Way campaigns. He is an active member, past lay minister and Sunday School Superintendent of First Church of Christ Scientist. He and his wife Linda have a son Michael, two daughters, Karol and Cynthia, and a grandson, Aidan.

Mel Rich

U.S. Navy

A native of Stamford, Mel Rich demonstrated early on his enterprising, entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up during the Great Depression he and his brother hung around the trolley tracks on Shippan Avenue, chatting up the workers who were getting ready to pave the road. They’d give them the iron, which they in turn would haul to sell at Rubio Brothers. When they’d saved enough, they’d head off to The Strand for a double feature!

Mel graduated from Stamford High in 1943, joined the Navy and over the 25 months he served he trained in three different schools. The first was the Navy’s photography school in Pensacola, Florida, often photographing in the Dauntless dive bomber. He then trained at gunnery school in Jacksonville and then went to aircrew training in Fort Lauderdale. Mel completed his training in 1945, was given leave before being deployed overseas and the day he reported for duty – August 14, 1945 – was the day the war ended!

After the war Mel went in to business, first buying a Texaco station which he ran for three years. After selling it he bought The Three Gables, which was basically a pizzeria but he quickly turned it into a night club, booking acts like Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, The Glenn Miller Band and Carmen McRae. It wasn’t long after that Mel started producing major concerts. Over the years he produced Tony Bennett with Count Basie and his orchestra, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra for two nights at the Hartford Civic Center and Ella Fitzgerald, to name a few.

Mel and his wife Olga, who raised two children, Mel Jr. and Larry, also have two grandchildren, Brittany and Colby.