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Calhoun honors veterans at homecoming

Sanford H. Calhoun senior Victoria Gallo, left,

Sanford H. Calhoun senior Victoria Gallo, left, her mother, Eileen Gallo, and Calhoun social studies teacher Brian Joyce enjoying homecoming festivities in Merrick on Oct. 31, 2015. They are working in support of the nonprofit veterans organization Building Homes for Heroes, and will be helping with the dedication ceremony when Marine Cpl. Kevin Vaughan will be awarded with a new, mortgage-free home in recognition of his service. Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

The Sanford H. Calhoun Colts varsity football team wore camouflage jerseys during the school's 2015 homecoming day game as a nod to U.S. veterans, but that fashion statement is only a small part of what some students, faculty and parents are working on to honor and aid those who have served in the Armed Forces.

During the game’s halftime show in Merrick, a group of veterans with experiences that date back to World War II were honored on the field. U.S. Navy veteran Brendan McKenna (whose granddaughter, Julie, is a member of the Calhoun kick-line team) was among those recognized.

“It’s really nice that the school is making this tribute," he said. ". . . These guys [the veterans present] have given a lot.”

However, the grandest effort being made by Calhoun is yet to come, as next Saturday, a group of students, teachers and parents will be helping welcome Afghanistan veteran Kevin Vaughan to his new, mortgage-free home in Merrick.

A recipient of the Purple Heart, Marine Corps Cpl. Vaughan (not present at the Calhoun homecoming) lost a leg during his service.

The organization Building Homes for Heroes, a national nonprofit group, is preparing to award four homes to wounded veterans across the country, including Vaughan. Part of the local support system for this event has been spearheaded by Calhoun parent Eileen Gallo, 55, and Brian Joyce, 36, a social studies teacher at Calhoun and an Army veteran.

“I think what’s happening at this school in regard to veterans is fantastic,” Gallo said, referring to the camouflage jerseys, veteran tribute and what’s to take place next Saturday. “To honor people who have done so much for our country . . . it’s outstanding.”

Gallo, along with her children, Drake and Victoria (both Calhoun seniors), Joyce and other students will be at the dedication of Kevin Vaughn’s house.

“I think all of this does make people stop and realize, there are a lot of people who put their lives on the line, and gave what they had," Joyce said.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 9 a.m., at 1561 Little Whaleneck Rd. in Merrick and is open to the public. For more information, call Building Homes for Heros at 516-684-9220 or visit its website,

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