FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 4, 2004

Schumer To Receive Iraqi Battle Flag From Suffolk County Vet Just Back From Iraq Whom He Nominated To Air Force Academy 16 Years Ago

Schumer to give Senate Proclamation and Stars and Stripes that flew over US Capitol to Major Michael Simonelli of Yaphank - who took leave from Suffolk County Police Department to fulfill commitment to US Army Reserves and helped capture 40 terrorists and illegal Iranians

Then-Congressman Schumer gave Simonelli appointment to Air Force Academy in 1988; Major Simonelli was among initial

Standing on the runway in front of historic American warplanes at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport, US Senator Charles E. Schumer today received a framed Iraqi Battle Flag from Major Michael Simonelli of Yaphank, a Suffolk County Police Officer who took leave to fulfill his commitment to US Army Reserves in Iraq. “Some people are just born leaders, and even as a high school senior back in Sheepshead Bay it was clear that Mike Simonelli was going to be a credit to his county,” Schumer said. “Only the best and the brightest make it into the Air Force Academy, to say nothing of making it through. Major Simonelli’s record of service overseas and at home puts a human face on the commitment, integrity, and selflessness of all of our men and women in uniform.”

In 1989, then-Congressman Schumer nominated Simonelli – a senior at Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn – to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This appointment to the rigorous, prestigious, and tuition-free Academy started the Major's career in the military and law enforcement. In 1993, Simonelli graduated from the Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. After five years of active duty, Simonelli transferred to the Army reserves.

In January 2003, his battalion – the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion (Special Operations) based at Ft. Dix in New Jersey – was activated for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Simonelli was among the initial forces capturing Northern Iraq and he then spent 11 months working to build and improve the Iraqi infrastructure. A Suffolk County Police officer, he was assigned to train local police in patrol and SWAT tactics, and worked with them to capture over 40 terrorists and illegal Iranians.

Major Simonelli gave Schumer a plaque today made out of a captured Iraqi Battle Flag. In appreciation, Schumer gave Major Simonelli an American Flag that flew over the US Capitol on Saturday, August 1, 2004 and an official Senate Proclamation. The text of Schumer’s proclamation follows: United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer PROCLAMATION

Whereas: After serving with the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion in Operation Enduring Freedom and subsequently in Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is with great please that I welcome Major Michael J. Simonelli, United States Army Reserves back home and take this opportunity to thank him for his service to our state and our country; and

Whereas: Our armed forces are the strongest and greatest in the world thanks to the devoted and honorable service of officers like Major Simonelli; and

Whereas: Major Simonelli has continued in the great tradition of American soldiers who have helped to bring peace and liberty to all corners of the world; and

Whereas: It is essential that all Americans take the time to honor and remember those individuals who gave their lives in defense of our liberty; and

Whereas: While we remain deeply sorrowful for the profound losses we have suffered, we must remain eternally grateful to all the heroes who through their resiliency, commitment and patriotism made their way back home; now therefore

Be It Known: That I, Senator Charles E. Schumer, do hereby commend and offer my most sincere thanks to Major Michael J. Simonelli for his commitment to the protection of both the United States and the State of New York. On behalf of the residents of New York, I thank you for your devotion, leadership, patriotism and service. You serve as a source of inspiration to us all.

Signed this 4th day of August in the Year Two Thousand and Four

Charles E. Schumer United States Senator

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