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Mattituck honors alumni who served in military

The Wall of Honor at Mattituck High School grew by a dozen names as the district held its fourth annual Veterans Day ceremony last month.

Twelve plaques, each bearing the name of a Mattituck alumni and branch of service they represent were added to the wall, located at the junior-senior high school, bringing the total number of honorees to 112.

“That’s an impressive number for a community of our size,” high school principal Shawn Petretti said during the Nov. 6 ceremony. “Every day our Wall of Honor stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made and the sacrifices being made by our alumni in the military.”

The 12 people recognized for their bravery and service this year include:

Wilfred B. Ruland Jr., Class of 1947 – U.S. Navy

Clifford F. Saunders Jr., Class of 1947 – U.S. Navy 

Carl Stelzer, Class of 1950 – U.S. Navy 

John A. Wilcenski, Class of 1950 – U.S. Navy

Timothy A. Haas, Class of 1977 – U.S. Navy

Valerie C. Hubbard-Taylor, Class of 1980 – U.S. Army

William J. Droskoski Jr., Class of 1983 – U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps

Brendan Dunnigan Kelly, Class of 1988 – U.S. Coast Guard 

Kevin Wines, Class of 1993 – U.S. Army 

Erik Schwartz, Class of 2015 – U.S. Navy

Greg Sheryll, Class of 2016 – U.S. Navy

Wade T. Foster, Class of 2018 – U.S. Air Force

Maj. William Grigonis, senior instructor of the NJROTC program, said the wall means a lot to him personally, as 36 former cadets appear on the wall from throughout his 20 years in the district. He thanked the veterans, past and present, for their service. “I appreciate what you’ve done for your country. I appreciate your service. I just want to thank you so much,” he said.

The tradition of honoring alumni who serve in the armed forces dates to 2017, when over 40 plaques were added to the wall in a collaborative effort between the school district, NJROTC and Mattituck resident Barbara Sheryll. It honors alumni from as early as 1937 to the present and is an ongoing effort, according to Mr. Petretti, who urges anyone not yet recognized on the wall to reach out to his office to be included next year.

The plaques are free to the veterans recognized and this year, were funded by East End Sporting Goods, Mattituck-Southold-Greenport NJROTC, Southold Town Police Benevolent Association, and the Grathwohl & Sheryll families.

Mr. Petretti said he’s “amazed” by the stories and things he’s learned from the tribute, including the life of 1939 graduate Russell Penny, who was the first Suffolk County casualty of WWII at Pearl Harbor. He also said the wall features parents, siblings, grandparents, and children of students and employees of the district. “It’s an important piece of history for the school and community,” Mr. Petretti said.