Vet of the day | U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Gene Gerrard

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Eugene “Gene” Gerrard wanted to start his military career at age 17 in the summer of 1941.

He worked as a printer by day and attended trade school by night in Brooklyn, NY, and after being convinced by naval officers to join, he chose to enlist in the navy. After learning that he would either be assigned to a battleship, an aircraft carrier, or the base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, his mother refused to sign his papers. However, due to a family friend influencing his mother’s opinion, he eventually enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1942.

Gerrard served in the Coast Guard until 1945, when he attained the rank of Quartermaster 1st Class. For his service, he was awarded an American Campaign Medal, an Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, a World War II Victory Medal, and a Philippine Liberation Medal.

After his service, Gerrard applied his knowledge of printing to own and operate two printing companies for 61 years: Gerrard Printing in Elmont, NY, from 1951 to 1965, and St. Gerrard Printing in Port Jefferson Station, NY, from 1965 to 2013. Gerrard concurrently served as a Brookhaven alderman for 22 years beginning in 1981.

In addition to the aforementioned community involvement, Gerrard was an active member of the Mount Sinai Fire Department for 50 years and served as its Chief, Chaplain and Fire Police Captain. He founded the Mt. Sinai Fire Department Benevolent Association and the Brookhaven Volunteer Firefighters Museum.

At age 94, Gerrard began volunteering at Canandaigua VA Medical Center as a Red Coat Ambassador, serving Finger Lakes Veterans.

Red Coat Ambassadors are named for their easily recognizable red coats or vests. They are volunteer hosts, positioned near the main entrances to VA buildings. They offer information and assistance, provide directions to important locations, escort veterans to appointments when requested, contact escorts or wheelchair services if needed, and offer a listening ear to those in need. .

Gerrard was named New York’s 27th Congressional District Veteran of the Month in June 2021 and received a proclamation from the New York State Senate by Senator Pamela Helming that year on his 99th birthday.

In May 2022, Gerrard celebrated his 100th birthday at the American Legion Canandaigua Post 256 with staff from the VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement, members of Canandaigua Rotary, members of the Kiwanis Club of Canandaigua, and other members of the community. A few days later, he was honored at a gathering of governors by Lee Zeldin.
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