Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris honors 74th District ‘2020 Veterans of the Year’

California 74th Assembly District's "2020 Veterans of the Year"
On Wednesday, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, top, named (middle row) Carol Singleton, David Hayward, Anthony Michael Page, (bottom row) Nancy Ise, Mohamed Omar Diab and Gary Bain “2020 Veterans of the Year.”
(Screenshot by Sara Cardine)

While civic operations ceased Wednesday in observance of Veterans Day, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) honored six Orange County residents for their service to the nation and in their local communities, naming them “2020 Veterans of the Year.”

“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to our veterans, to the men and women who’ve put their lives on the line to protect America and to protect our democracy,” Petrie-Norris said in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday. “Today, we are here to honor the men and women of our community who have chosen to serve our nation and to serve with purpose.”

Mayors from the six cities in Petrie-Norris’ 74th Assembly District congratulated the former servicemen and women — whose service spans from World War II, through Vietnam, to the present decade — in introductory remarks.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley recognized Carol Singleton, a former telecommunications operator in the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1983 to 1986 who spent a year in Germany during the Cold War.

Singleton works as supervisor of the Heroes Hall veterans museum at the Orange County fairgrounds, where she shares stories from history with future generations. She said her military service helped her gain self-discipline and confidence and, most importantly, prepared her for her work today.

“Heroes Hall is a place where I get to work with veterans every day,” Singleton said. “I get to hear their stories and share them with the community — I want to make sure their stories are told and their sacrifices are not forgotten.”

Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta introduced World War II veteran David Hayward, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force who flew 53 combat missions as the pilot of a B-25 medium bomber, earning an Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Hayward is still involved in an alumni association for those who served in his squadron and in 2014 authored the book “A Young Man in the Wild Blue Yonder.” He’s also a member Costa Mesa nonprofit Freedom Committee of Orange County, which sends veterans to speak to area high schools.

Hayward described his time in India and China, where he attacked enemy supply lines to support U.S. Marines fighting on the ground.

“I’m most humble and grateful for this honor,” Hayward said of Wednesday’s recognition. “It’s very nice.”

Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen recognized resident Anthony Michael Page, who served 15 years in the U.S. Army and ran a number of intelligence operations. He later graduated first in his class at Claremont Graduate University’s Peter Drucker School of Management and co-founded the company Voxx Analytics.

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Page said he was lucky to have come out of military service with just a few scars and some minor hearing loss when so many others suffered far worse and still live without support.

“I hope this recognition of veterans reminds everyone that all veterans took a great risk for our county and that we, as a society, do owe them a debt,” he said. “I do thank you for your support and taking the time to support veterans.”

Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill introduced Capt. Nancy Ise, who served 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a number of positions, from Vietnam up until 2002 before retiring to work in the public service sector.

Including her employment with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service, Ise assists veterans transitioning to civilian life by helping them secure employment opportunities.

“Our program is dependent on community actions and we could not do it without all the community involvements,” she said.

Also honored were Irvine resident Mohammed Omar Diab, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant who works with Irvine Valley College’s Veterans Service Center, and Gary Bain, a retired lieutenant colonel who served in the U.S. Air Force during Vietnam.

“Thank you for your commitment to the nation and for your continued service to your brothers and sisters in arms,” Petrie-Norris concluded. “We are eternally grateful to all of you for your service and sacrifice.”

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