Injured veteran honored at Memorial Day breakfast
An Iraq war veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury and who gets by, these days, with help from her service dog was cited for her courage and fortitude at a special pre-Memorial Day breakfast in Bay Ridge on Thursday.
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Katherine Ragazzino brought along her faithful service dog Daisy when she walked up to the podium in the ballroom of the Bay Ridge Manor catering hall to accept a citation from state Sen. Marty Golden as hundreds of veterans stood and applauded her.
In her acceptance speech, Ragazzino sought to deflect the attention from her and instead focused on the meaning of Memorial Day. She told the audience that she wears a bracelet to honor those who have died in war.
“Every day when I get up in the morning, I challenge myself every day to give back to those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
During her military career, Ragazzino was deployed at various times to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. While serving in Iraq in 2004, she sustained a traumatic brain injury that proved to be serious and long-lasting. After undergoing treatments at various military hospitals, she was honorably discharged from the service in 2009.
As a member of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Organization, Ragazzino took part in an expedition to Nepal in 2010 with a group called Soldiers to Summits.
Earlier in the week, Ragazzino was inducted by Golden into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Albany.
Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) hosts breakfasts for Brooklyn military veterans twice a year – for Memorial Day and again for Veterans Day.
The senator presented medals to two Korean War veterans, U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Salvatore “Buddy” Scotto and U.S. Army Corp. Vincent Troiano, both of whom had never received the service medals that they had earned and were supposed to get 60 years ago, Golden said.
Scotto recalled meeting Pope Pius decades ago and said that he will never forget what the Pope told him. “Tell your people to love one another,” Scotto recalled the leader of the Catholic Church saying to him. “Peace and may God bless all of you,” Scotto told his fellow veterans.
The ballroom was packed with veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Members of American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars, along with the Catholic War Veterans of American and the Jewish War Veterans of America attended the breakfast.
“We do this for the men and women that did not return. We must pause to remember the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Golden said. It’s important, Golden said, that children be taught “that they are fortunate to be living in the greatest nation in the world” and that the U.S. is a great nation because of its military.
Golden also presented a posthumous award in memory of U.S. Marine Corp. Luigi Masu, a Vietnam War veteran who died earlier this year. A group of Vietnam Veterans came up to the podium to accept the award.
Golden wasn’t just handing out awards, he received one, too. Donald Bradshaw, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge, presented Golden with an American flag that had once flown over a U.S. military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
“That flag will fly in my office and it will be there with pride,” Golden said.
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