Hometown Hero: Michael Zingaro

United States Navy Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Michael Zingaro hails from Syracuse, New York. He enlisted in the Navy in 2015 and completed boot camp later that year.

MC2 Zingaro’s first duty station was aboard U.S.S. George H.W. Bush in Norfolk, Virginia. While aboard the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, he went on deployments with both the 5th and 6th Fleets to the Mediterranean Sea and a combat deployment to the Arabian Gulf.

He has received two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism standard and Expeditionary, Sea Service Ribbon, National Defense Medal for his military and combat service.

MC2 Zingaro’s proudest military moment was being the aerial photographer for a joint exercise between the United States and the United Kingdom, which debuted England’s newest aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Today, MC2 Zingaro is a student at the Military Visual Journalism Program at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.


Bridge Street Interview: Maria Delgado

Maria Delgado, an SU graduate student and U.S. Army Reserve member, stopped by Bridge Street on Veterans Day to discuss her personal life, her time in the Reserves, her plan of full enlistment after graduation, and her opinion on what Veterans Day means to her.


Hometown Hero: MG (Ret) Peggy Combs

Peggy Combs and her husband posing with football on SU Dome turf. United States Army Major General (Retired) Peggy Combs hails from Oriskany, New York, and she is the daughter of Jack and Cecelia Huther. Major General Combs graduated from Oriskany Central School in 1981 and was the first in her family to attend college.

Major General Combs attended Syracuse University from 1981 to 1985 and was commissioned in 1985 in Hendricks Chapel as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps.

Major General Combs’ military service was highlighted by commanding the U.S. Army ROTC Cadet Command (ROTC) responsible for the leadership for over 200,000 Cadets on high school and college campuses throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Guam, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. She most recently served as the Chief of Staff for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. She has also deployed to Iraq serving as the Chief of Staff for the Iraq Training and Advisory mission.

Yesterday, Major General Peggy Combs retired after 33 years of active duty military service in a ceremony held in Hendricks Chapel; the same place where her amazing journey began back in 1985. In her retirement, Major General Combs plans to reside in Florida, with frequent visits to Central NY to cheer on her beloved Orange.


CBS5 Interview: New Resource Center Brings Hopes to Veterans

CBS 5 recently interviewed IVMF Executive Director Mike Haynie about the importance of recognizing veterans year round and not just on Veterans Day. The interview goes on to discuss how IVMF and Syracuse University are supporting veterans especially with the construction of the National Veteran Resource Center which should be completed in the next year.


Stories of Service: Sam Clemence

Sam Clemence knew he would be drafted into the Army because, according to him, ” [he] was standing up and breathing.” He decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps. After he was honorably discharged he became a professor at Georgia Tech, “There was a great deal of hostility toward anyone associated with Vietnam,” he says. “There was no place to go if you were unhappy or had any problems from your experience in the service. I don’t know if people even cared or thought about it.”

Once Clemence began teaching at Syracuse University he helped ROTC cadets while not directly advertising his service. All that changed in 2014.

“It’s just tremendously different than my experience,” says Clemence. “When Chancellor Syverud and Mike Haynie came here the atmosphere really began to change. It’s become a marvelous place for veterans and I’m thrilled to see them supported here.”

Learn more about Sam Clemence here.



Stories of Service: Min Kang Kim

Syracuse University is committed to its veterans and dedicated to being the best place for vets. These facts are highlighted this week in celebration of Veterans Week 2018. Min Kang Kim took advantage of SU’s commitment to veterans when she decided to enroll in higher education.

“As I was looking at schools I consulted the rankings. Syracuse is the number one private school for veterans, which made my decision easy,” says Kim. She described the atmosphere on-campus as “very veteran-positive” especially when seeking additional support from professors and tutors.

To read more about Min Kang Kim’s story you can go here. 



Stories of Service: Beth Kubala

Below is a snippet of an interview with IVMF employee and military veteran Beth Kubala.

Tell me about your path to joining the military.

My dad served as an Army reservist but I didn’t grow up thinking of myself as a military brat or planning to spend a career in the Army. Still, I knew West Point was a great opportunity and I was excited about the chance to attend a four-year college that in addition to academics, included elements of physical fitness and leadership. I was fortunate to be selected to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and upon graduation I was a second lieutenant, beginning my military career as soon as I walked off the stage with my diploma in hand.

What was your Army life and duties like after you graduated from West Point?

Following graduation, I did intelligence training at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where I met my husband, Mike. Together, we spent our first assignment at Fort Hood, Texas, where I was a military intelligence officer and Mike was a helicopter pilot. We were there for about four years before I was selected for a program where the Army sends active duty officers to law school. After getting my law degree from the University of Missouri Kansas City, I became an Army JAG officer and served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. My husband and I continued to balance our careers and family, moving seven times and welcoming three kids during more than twenty years of service.

To read the rest of the interview click here.



Stories of Service: Phillip George

Phillip George was a new father when the 2008 Recession hit, making for an especially difficult time. He moved throughout Canada working various jobs from painting to construction. Eventually, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 29.

“At that time in my life, I was going through turmoil as was much of the world,” says George. “So much of what was going on in the war was disturbing to me and I wanted to be a part of making a difference—not just in world events, but also for my family. I wanted to set an example for my daughter that you can do good and also pull yourself out of tough times.”

Click here to read the full story on Phillip George


Hometown Hero: Katie Piston

Katie is the spouse of Navy Veteran Daniel Piston, but her connections to the military began long before she met her husband. She grew up outside of Chicago, IL and is the proud granddaughter of a WWII Veteran. While earning her bachelors in biomedical engineering at Purdue University she worked on designs of smart military helmets. After graduating from Purdue, Piston moved to Syracuse NY where she worked for 6 years in the medical device industry. During that time she witnessed thousands of procedures at the Syracuse VA hospital and has always been inspired by the men and women of our military. This inspiration led her to enroll as a bioengineering Ph.D. student at Syracuse University where she is currently a teaching assistant, mentor, student, and researcher. She is a passionate educator and her favorite moments at Syracuse have been working with undergraduate and high school students. This past summer she mentored 8 engineering undergraduates and two high school students who aspire to change the world themselves someday. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in academia as an educator of young learners and a researcher seeking to make a measurable impact on the health of our nations Veterans and all citizens.

Katie’s proudest moment as a military spouse is supporting her husband as he transitioned from Sailor to civilian. This often overlooked transition can be a challenging time in the lives of those who have served our country as they must seek a new path to service and identity outside of the military. With her support and guidance, her husband was able to earn not just one but two degrees from Syracuse University and currently works at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

Katie Piston is one of only 60 nationwide recipients to receive the Pat Tillman Scholarship. Pat Tillman was a passionate athlete, lifelong learner, and citizen who had an unmatched internal drive to make a difference in the world. Combining her respect for the military and passion for making the world a better place, Katie strives to honor Pat’s legacy of impact, service, and humble leadership throughout her career. She is proud to be a Tillman Scholar, proud to be a military spouse and proud to bleed orange.

Katie Piston and Dan Piston wedding photo.


Hometown Hero: Daniel Pesci

Syracuse University Air Force ROTC Cadet Daniel Pesci is the Squadron Commander in the 535th Cadet Wing at Syracuse University.  He was first introduced to the possibility of commissioning in the Armed Forces in 4th grade on a family vacation to Colorado, where he visited the United States Air Force Academy.

Since joining ROTC three years ago, Cadet Pesci has participated in a number of leadership opportunities. Two summers ago he received the opportunity to spend two weeks at Lackland Air Force Base shadowing Air Force officers and enlisted members involved with Basic Military Training. Last summer, he attended Field Training and graduated in the top third of his flight. Cadet Pesci is also heavily involved in Arnold Air Society, a professional service organization offered to Air Force Cadets, where he is currently the Northeast Region Commander and is in charge of 13 Squadrons at 13 different Universities.

Cadet Pesci has been on the President’s List each semester and received the NCO Award, Professor of Aerospace Studies Award, and the Warrior Spirit ribbon over his time in ROTC.

Cadet Pesci is currently a junior at SUNY ESF, where he is studying Environmental Resource Engineering with a minor in water management.