Buttenschon Honors Veterans at Kiwanis Dinner

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica), spoke at the 5th Annual Veterans’ Recognition Dinner at the Lake Delta Inn on Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the Lake Delta Kiwanis Club and honored Mr. James Furgal of Clinton and Mr. Ronald C. Barry of Rome. Both are Vietnam-era Veterans from the Mohawk Valley.

“I never fail to be astonished by the sacrifice and courage shown by our veterans during and after their service,” said Buttenschon. “It was my great pleasure to join the Kiwanis in honoring Mr. James Furgal and Mr. Ronald C. Barry. Mr. Barry’s bravery, serving in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967, sometimes under enemy bombardment, should be and inspiration to us all, as should his continued commitment to the VFW, his long career as a state worker, and his dedication to the communities of Utica and Rome. Mr. Furgal’s tours of duty on the Korean DMZ and in Vietnam, testimony before Congress, and his many years of advocacy on behalf of other veterans exposed to Agent Orange all stand as a credit to his character.”

James Furgal joined the Army out of high school in 1968. He was promoted to staff sergeant in 1969. Between 1969 and 1970 he spent 17 months applying chemical defoliants, like Agent Orange, along the Korean DMZ and in Vietnam. He was awarded several medals for his service. He served as a Drill Instructor in the Active Reserves from 1971 to 1975. In 1981, he testified before the US House of Representative’s Veterans Affairs Committee about the use of Agent Orange in Korea. In 2019, along with US Army veterans William McGuire and David Rogers, he published “Last Three Soldiers Standing” detailing the use of Agent Orange in Korea. Since 2015 he has served as a Volunteer Veterans Services Officer, helping several hundred veterans enroll in VA Healthcare and file disability compensation claims. He is a long-time member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 944 in Utica, NY and was instrumental in securing a UH-1 Huey Helicopter and the Kneeling Soldier Statue on display at the New York State Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Rome. His advocacy on behalf of veterans exposed to Agent Orange has been widely covered in the media.

Ronald C. Barry was born in Rome, New York and graduated from the Rome Free Academy in 1964. He was drafted into the US Army in late-1965 and served with the 611th Transportation Company. He served at Vung Tao and Vin Long in Vietnam and was awarded several medals. He returned to the US and was discharged in late-1967. Mr. Barry worked for the State of New York for more than thirty years and earned degrees from Utica College and UAlbany. He raised four children in Utica and Rome and joined VFW Post 2246 in Rome in 1985. He has served as a trustee of the post and is a member of the color guard. He’s also served terms as junior vice commander and senior vice commander.

“Mr. Barry and Mr. Furgal are both deeply deserving of tonight’s honor,” Buttenschon said. “I want to thank Mr. Furgal, Mr. Barry, and all the men and women of the Mohawk Valley who served in the military. I also want to thank the Lake Delta Kiwanis Club for organizing this event and giving us the opportunity to recognize these outstanding members of our community.”