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The Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc., is a nonprofit organization established exclusively to raise funds for and build a state-wide memorial to honor all Connecticut veterans.
The spirit and goals of the organization are specifically :

  • To create a lasting physical memorial to honor Connecticut veterans past, present and future.
  • To draw upon the talents of Connecticut artists, architects, and landscape architects to identify design concepts for an inspiring “memorial expression” that celebrates those men and women who served and memorialize those who gave their lives.
  • To select a design that will serve as a focal point and significant icon which illustrates the high regard, respect and esteem the citizens of Connecticut have for the men and women who have defended the rights and freedoms so cherished by this Nation.
  • To provide a place of honor and tribute for the men and women who have served and are serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.
  • To raise awareness of the contributions made by the veterans of the state.To establish a central site for the State of Connecticut to conduct official observances, activities and ceremonies to honor veterans including Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

A dedicated committee of Connecticut veterans and volunteers are coordinating this landmark effort to honor veterans.


Co-President, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc. 
Peter Galgano Jr.Peter Galgano

Peter Galgano Jr.’s service in the United States Marine Corps is one of his proudest accomplishments. He is a Vietnam Veteran and served from 1966 to1970 and was discharged as Sgt E-5. In 2003, he received the “Secretary of the State’s Public Service Award” from Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State of Connecticut, for his dedicated service and contribution to state boards and commissions in Connecticut, as the Co-Chair, Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness. In 2006, he was the recipient of the Marine Corps League’s prestigious “Department of Connecticut Marine of the Year”. He received this for his extensive involvement with the Military Funeral Honors Detail, Wake Service, and creating a DVD that was given to 300 Funeral Directors in CT to show to the families what was entitled to them. In 2007, after Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines in Plainville, CT, returned from Fallujah, Iraq, the Marines of Charlie Company named him the “2006 Marine Corps Veteran of the Year”. He received this honor for establishing a website for Marines in Iraq to see and communicate with their families in Connecticut. Peter was also the co-organizer for Charlie Company’s Homecoming from Iraq and he created a DVD of all the pictures for the 200 Marines returning. In 2008, Peter was the Public Relations Chairman for bringing the largest traveling Vietnam Wall to Rentschler Field in East Hartford. He was also instrumental in bringing up the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team and the Drum and Bugle Corp. On 17 November 2010, Middlesex Community College dedicated its new Veterans’ OASIS Center, a place where Veteran Students can congregate, relax, talk, study or seek assistance from Peter.

On November 8, 2011, Peter Galgano Jr. received the “William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award”. The award was presented by the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce “Honor the Veterans and Support the Troops Committee” in recognition of distinguished service on the part of a veteran of our armed forces to the citizens of Connecticut and selfless devotion to the ideal of commitment to public service.

On November 28, 2012, Peter Galgano Jr. was inducted into the “Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame”. The Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame honors veterans both for their direct service to their country and for making significant contributions to their local communities after they have completed their military service.

Peter is presently active with the following: The Marine Corps League #781, in New Britain, and the MCL Dept of Connecticut, the VFW Post 10732 in Berlin, CT, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 120, in East Hartford and the VVA State Council-VP, the town of Berlin Veterans’ Commission-Secretary, member of the Special Veterans Advisory Committee for Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Veterans’ Outreach Coordinator at Middlesex Community College, the Staff Advisor for the Middlesex Community College Veterans Club, and the OEF/OIF Military Support Committee, at Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose Armed Forces Reserve Center in Middletown.


Co-President, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc. 
LTC Lesbia NievesMAJ Lesbia Nieves

Lieutenant Colonel Lesbia Nieves has been a member of the Connecticut Army National Guard since 1987 and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In April 2014, she became the first Hispanic woman ever to be appointed a Lieutenant Colonel in the CTARNG. She has held numerous leadership positions in her 19 years as a commissioned officer including Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Company Commander, Battalion Logistical Staff Officer Operations Officer (Major Command Group), Operations and Training Officer for the CTARNG Recruiting and Retention, Executive Officer for the 118th Multifunctional Medical Battalion and now Battalion Commander. Lt. Col. Nieves also served as the State Partnership Program Director for the CT National Guard working with the Partner Nation of the Country of Uruguay.

Lt. Col. Nieves recently completed a one-year tour at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va., working in the International Affairs Division State Partnership program as one of the U.S. Southern Commands desk officers. She currently is assigned as Battalion Commander for the 143rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in Waterbury, Conn. A full-time Social Work Supervisor for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, she has been employed by that department 1995 and works primarily within the Hartford and Manchester areas. Lt. Col. Nieves has a Bachelors degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology, and a Masters degree in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Counseling from Central Connecticut State University. In addition, she has a Masters degree in Public Administration with a concentration on National Security Affairs from Troy University. In addition, she completed various military educational programs and graduated from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Command and General Staff College program in 2009.

Lt. Col. Nieves was honored as an Honorary Grand Marshal of the 2014 Connecticut Veterans Parade. A Board Member of the Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc. and a past President of the Hispanic American Veterans of Connecticut, Inc. (HAVOC), she is a Life Member of the VFW, and a member of the American Legion, the Women Veterans’ Memorial, and the American Veterans Association (AMVETS). Born in Puerto Rico, Lt. Col. Nieves grew up in Springfield, Mass., moved to Connecticut in 1987, and today lives in Manchester.


  Secretary, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc.                                                                        
Tammy A. Marzik


  Treasurer, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc.                                                                        
Lenell Kittlitz

Lenell Kittlitz served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1977 to 1980, and was stationed in New London, Conn. and Charleston, South Carolina.

Kittlitz currently is a member of the Society of College and University Planners, and is an Individual Affiliate Member of the American Institute of Architects.

The Rocky Hill resident also serves on the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs Board of Trustees and on the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame Committee.


  Board Member, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc.                                                                    
Paul W. (Buddy) Bucha

Paul W. "Buddy" Bucha is a Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is a graduate of West Point’s celebrated class of 1965 and received a MBA from Stanford. He completing his Airborne and Ranger Training between academic years and was assigned to 101st Airborne Division when it deployed to Vietnam in March 16, 1968. Captain Bucha received the Medal of Honor for his courage under fire in combat action near Phuoc Vinh, Binh Duong Province. He is also a recipient of the Bronze Star with V and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart. He returned to West Point as an Assistant Professor of Managerial Economics at West Point.

After leaving the Army, he joined du Pont Glore Forgan as a special assistant to H. Ross Perot becoming Senior Vice President of International Operations. In 1978, he formed his own international consulting company, Paul W. Bucha and Company, Inc. (PWBCO), and expanded to real estate development, building the environmentally acclaimed development Port Liberte on New York Harbor. In 2005, he established, Terra Mark II, LLC which specializes in residential and mixed use development in environmentally sensitive locations.

Bucha is actively involved in national security and veterans issues and was an advisor to candidate Obama during his 2008 campaign. He has been a member of the Board and an officer of The Fisher House Foundation and Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund which support military families and wounded warriors. He served as President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. In addition to his military honors, he is a Gold Medallion inductee of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and an inductee of the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. He is a resident of Ridgefield, Conn.

  Board Member, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc.                                                                 
Ronald Catania

Ronald Catania was a member of the United States Air Force and served with a Special Intelligence Communication Unit at DaNang Air Base in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. He was disabled in the line of duty and was assisted by the Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Program to ultimately earn an MBA from the University of New Haven. Over the past forty years, Ron has been successfully employed as Vice President of two Connecticut Retail Clothing Corporations – Sage Allen and BOB’S Stores. He is a champion for the Return to Work Program for Veterans. Ron serves on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Veterans Memorial and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. Ron has been a Volunteer for 911, Stand Down, Hurricane Katrina, the Special Olympics, the American Red Cross, the MS Bike Tour, Kleen Energy Plant, UCONN, the Town of Rocky Hill, Oak Hill, and the CT Retail Merchants Association. Ron is also a DAV and VFW Member.


Board Member, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc.                                                                 
Jim Shelmerdine, Jr.Jim Shelmerdine

Jim Shelmerdine, Jr. is the President of the Connecticut Chapter of Korean War Veterans. Jim has been a member of the Connecticut Veterans Day Parade Planning Committee since the event’s inception in 2000. The lifelong East Hartford resident has devoted all of his years to the ensuing America’s freedom through military service. He joined the Connecticut Army National Guard in 1952 and, five months later, was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served as Combat Rifleman in the First Battalion 224th Infantry, 40th Infantry Division in North Korea. Two days after his discharge in 1954, he joined the Connecticut Air National Guard and served for three years as a Personnel clerk, First Sergeant and Legal Technician at Bradley Air Field in Windsor Locks. When his unit was eliminated after 37 months, he joined Army National Guard and was a Platoon Leader and Company Commander for nine years. Shelmerdine’s career includes work as General’s Aide, Operations, for the 76th Training Division in West Hartford. From 1973 to 1992, he was on sporadic Active Duty, balancing that responsibility with his civilian career as an insurance claims adjuster. Currently, he is Commander of the Final Honors Firing Squad at veterans’ funerals and is a member of ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve). For the past 25 years, he has served as Marshal of the East Hartford Memorial Day Parade and has been a member of the Town‘s Patriotic Commission for more than 30 years. A retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Army Infantry, Shelmerdine is the recipient of many awards, including a Purple Heart, a Meritorious Service Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, a Combat Infantry Badge, a Parachutist Badge, a Korean Service Medal with 2 bronze stars, a United Nations Service Medal, a Korean Presidential Citation, and a Republic of Korea Service Medal.


Board Member, Connecticut State Veterans Memorial, Inc.                                                            
Laura SollLaura Soll

Laura Soll is an award-winning public relations and event management specialist with 30 years of media experience in Southern New England. She is the Communications Director for the annual Connecticut Veterans Day Parade, one of the largest salutes to veterans in the U.S. Her firm represents a variety of businesses and associations, including the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association in its landmark partnership with the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs and the Connecticut chapter of the Missing in America Project (MIAP) to locate unclaimed cremains of Connecticut veterans and provide them with dignified military burials. Ms. Soll is proud that her father served in World War II in the U.S. Army. www.sollpr.com

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