Notable Neighbor: Kusmierczak of Medina has been active supporter for veterans for many years
MEDINA – David Kusmierczak didn’t think twice about joining the military as soon as he graduated from Medina High School in 1967.
He also didn’t hesitate to join the VFW (and later the American Legion) shortly after he finished his tour of duty and returned home in 1971.
It was this same dedication to veterans which has prompted him to step up and volunteer for any activity involving veterans in his community – a commitment which hasn’t gone unnoticed by his peers.
On Wednesday at the VFW in Medina, Congressman Chris Collins announced Kusmierczak as the Veteran of the Month in the New York 27th Congressional District.
The presentation was a complete surprise to Kusmierczak, who was told by Steve Johnson and Jim Freas there was going to be a veteran honored and they wanted all veterans to be there.
Kusmierczak wasn’t even suspicious when his wife Barbara and children Dan Taramasco and Jeanette Voelker showed up for the event. Another son, Matthew, had to work and couldn’t attend.
Barbara had been in on the award and provided Collins’ aide Alexandra Gould with his biography, which she read to the group gathered there.
Kusmierczak entered the United States Air Force in November 1967, because he didn’t want to be drafted into the Army. He completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, then became a security policeman, serving at many Air Force bases throughout the United States.
Then came his orders to go to Vietnam, and he was sent to Bien Hoa Air Force Base near Saigon. He was there two years, where he was in security at the bomb dump.
He arrived home in August 1971, and returned to his job at General Electric in Brockport, where he had worked the afternoon shift while still a junior in high school. After a year, he left and went to Harrison Radiator in Lockport, retiring from there after 33 years of employment.
A question about his life insurance policy led to a chance meeting with the woman who would become his wife.
Barbara sold insurance and he was put in contact with her when he had questions about his policy.
“She looked nice to me,” Kusmierczak said. “I used to call her up and pretend I needed to know how to cook something, when I really did know how to do it.”
They dated for two years before they were married in 2005. At one point, Barbara suggested maybe they should split and date other people, to make sure their relationship was going to work.
“I said, ‘No way.’ I threw down a calendar and told her to pick a date and that is when we would get married,” Kusmierczak said.
That was the fall of 2004 and the date she picked was June 25, 2005.
There were married by a justice of the peace at the Cobblestone Church in Childs, followed by a reception at the Village Inn.
After Kusmierczak retired from General Motors he stepped up his involvement in veterans’ activities.
“Frank Berger got me into the Honor Guard for a veteran’s funeral,” he said. “When their chaplain took ill, Dell Stork asked me to be chaplain. I still do that.”
He has been a member of the American Legion for 28 years and a chaplain at the VFW.
Then Berger introduced Kusmierczak to the Orleans County Joint Veterans’ Council, where he became their chaplain and has been president for four years. He has also been chaplain for the Orleans County American Legion for two years and for the Orleans County Legislature for three years. Whenever the Legion and VFW are placing flags on veterans’ graves, firing gun salutes at veterans’ memorial sites or marching in local parades, Kusmierczak is sure to be there.
He is actively involved in fundraising for the Butts-Clark American Legion and supports the Healing Presence Program, which gathers and distributes Christmas presents to homebound and nursing home veterans. Last year Kusmierczak distributed 69 packages to veterans.
He also participates in Wreaths Across America at Boxwood Cemetery and in any fundraisers for the VFW and American Legion.
He said when Gould started reading his biography, he soon realized she was talking about him.
He said it is a real honor and he has a spot all picked out on top of their curio cabinet to display the framed American flag which Collins presented him. The flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in Kusmierczak’s honor on July 17.