TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE – Twenty-three boats of various styles gathered at White’s Marina to give 49 veterans of the armed services a memorable day on the Hudson River.
Organized in part by George Mann of Poughkeepsie, the 4th Annual Boat Ride for Dutchess County Veterans Saturday was a way to pay tribute to the men and women that have taken up arms to defend the country by giving them a boat ride from White’s Marina down to West Point and back for a picnic.
Several local leaders joined the event including Poughkeepsie Town Supervisor Jay Baisley, State Senator Susan Serino, and Dutchess County Director of Veterans Services Marc Coviello. Baisley spoke briefly at the pre-trip ceremony and said “I thank you for your service and the Town of Poughkeepsie thanks you for your service.”
Serino expressed her thanks for the event and the veterans saying, “We are so grateful to White’s Marina and everyone who came together to pull off an amazing day for our local veterans. Our vets have gone above and beyond for all of us, and while words will never be enough to fully express our gratitude, events like this remind our servicemen and women that they will forever have a grateful and supportive community behind them. We cannot thank our vets enough for their service and their continued commitment to our community.”
Coviello, acting as a surrogate for Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, presented Mann with a certificate from the county thanking him for supporting the veterans and organizing the event.
Mann has ties to the military community. His son Bashon is a lieutenant commander in the US Navy and the sailor joined fellow veterans at the celebration.
Prior to departure, a flag ceremony was performed and the younger Mann, dressed in his uniform, offered a prayer for the veterans. After the National Anthem was performed by recording artist Brenda Moore, the elder Mann introduced the veterans to their boat captains and everyone made their way down the dock to their respective boats.
One WWII veteran, Sal Aglione, 93, was brought to the event by former Wappinger Town Supervisor Lori Jiava. Aglione served as a combat medic in the Army at Normandy. Physical limitations prevented him from making the full trip down to West Point and back but he did go for a brief boat ride before returning to shore. Jiava has been helping get veterans involved in the annual event. “George Mann and his fellow boat owners do a tremendous job in making the event a success. I am honored to be a part of it for the veterans,” she said.
When the flotilla left the marina they were given a water cannon display by firefighters from the New Hamburg Fire Department who had their boat out on the river spraying streams of water into the air. Law enforcement joined the trip with boats from the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office.
MidHudsonNews.com correspondent Todd Bender made the trip aboard the 29-foot go-fast boat called “Heatwave,” owned by Tom and Doreen Jagich. The boat’s speed enabled them to get out in front of the other boats in the voyage to get pictures of the flotilla as they passed by landmarks such as the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and Bannerman’s Island before reaching West Point.
Serino was aboard “My Three Buoys,” a large yacht owned by Gary Baright, a member of the LaGrange Town Board. Mr. and Mrs. Baright carried Serino and several veterans on a comfortable cruise downriver. George Mann’s vessel, “MannMade II,” carried several vets including his son who was given the opportunity to pilot the boat as they approached West Point.
Other boaters in the flotilla joked that the lieutenant commander looked out of place in his Navy uniform as he floated past the United States Military Academy.
Bob Sherwood of Hyde Park, himself a Vietnam War veteran, brought his boat, Sheena, down from Hyde Park to participate in the voyage. His brother Tom has a boat at White’s and told the Hyde Parker about the event. Sherwood and his wife jumped at the chance to join other veterans because, according to him, “It’s the right thing to do and if things work out, I’ll be back to do it again next year.”
The Sheena transported Sherwood, his wife, and two veterans on the journey. Upon returning to shore, the entire group was treated to a picnic lunch where George Mann continued to be a man of few words merely saying that he was “humbled by the opportunity to give something to the vets and be a part of such a supportive boating community.” Mann also congratulated the White family saying they were “celebrating their 60th year at the Marina and it’s truly the best place to have a boat in the Hudson Valley.”