Duty Calls: Two officers honored for decades of military duty  

Duty Calls: Two officers honored for decades of military duty  

Two New York Army National Guard noncommissioned officers with 72 years of service between them were honored during a joint retirement ceremony at New York National Guard Headquarters in Latham.

Sergeant Maj. Matthew Gutzwiller of Schenectady received a Legion of Merit and a New York State Conspicuous Service Medal as he was honored for his 34 years of military service before retirement. He officially retired in February 2020.

 Sergeant 1st Class Frank DeThomasis of Rensselaer received his second award of the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his 38 years of duty. He retired in January.

 Major Gen. Ray Shields, state adjutant general, honored the pair and presented the medals.

 The retirement ceremony was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and delays in obtaining awards.

 Gutzwiller began his career in the active Army in 1985 as a digital systems repairer. He took part in Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991. He joined the New York Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment in 1997.

He most recently served as the operations and training sergeant major for the New York Army National Guard, responsible for overseeing the military schools program for 10,000 soldiers.

During his New York Army National Guard service Gutzwiller served as a battalion operations sergeant, training noncommissioned officer, division operations sergeant major, troop command operations sergeant major, division fires sergeant major, division chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear sergeant major, and aviation operations noncommissioned officer during a deployment in Bosnia.

The Army Sergeants Major Academy graduate also has earned a Meritorious Service Medal, a Gold Army Recruiting Badge and a Driver Mechanic Badge.

Since he left the Army National Guard as a soldier, Gutzwiller has become a National Guard civilian employee working in the New York Army National Guard training and operation sections.

DeThomasis began his military career in 1980 when he enlisted in the New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 210th Armor, based in Albany. He served in that battalion as an armor crewman, gunner, senior gunner and tank commander until the battalion was deactivated in 1993.
He then joined the 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry, where he continued to serve as an armor leader for another 13 years.

He was part of the New York National Guard response to the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and deployed to Iraq for 11 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Iraq, he served in a number of positions with the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters and at Joint Force Headquarters, all focused on training and readiness.

DeThomasis has also earned a Bronze Star, a Combat Action Badge and a New York State Defense of Liberty Medal for service following the 9/11 attacks.

Fallen Soldiers: Two Capital Region fallen soldiers will be commemorated during stops by motorcyclists participating in Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Memorial Motorcycle Ride on Sunday, July 25.

The motorcyclists will stop at approximately 11:30 a.m. to honor Gold Star Mother Jean L. Kirschenhiter of Schenectady and family at the Elks Lodge at 1152 Curry Road, Rotterdam. Her son, retired Army Sgt, Raymond Warlikowsi Jr., a veteran of four tours in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, died Aug. 28, 2016, two years after military retirement. For information, call (518) 355-4244.

The motorcyclists will then stop at approximately 1 p.m. to pay tribute to  Gold Star Mother Vickie DeAugustine and family at 1330 Route 9P, Saratoga Springs. Her son, Army Sgt. David Fisher, was killed in the Iraq War. For information regarding this stop, contact Suzanne MacDaniel at (518) 416-3401.

During each stop, the families will receive a memorial Plaque of Distinguished Service to recognize the sacrifice of the fallen soldiers.

 The country-wide memorial ride began at Eugene, Ore. earlier this month and will make additional stops to honor Gold Star Mothers and Families until the ride ends Aug. 8 at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.

News of your troops and units can be sent to Times Union, Duty Calls, Terry Brown, Box 15000, Albany, NY 12212 or brownt@timesunion.com .