Veterans of the Year

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On November 4th, I hosted the fourth annual Veterans of the Year ceremony at Irvine Valley College, to recognize and honor six veterans for their meritorious service and outstanding achievements and contributions as distinguished members of our community.

These incredible veterans have sacrificed so much in the service of our nation and we owe a profound debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who have answered the call of a nation to serve in the United States Armed Forces and fought for our freedom and democracy.

The 2022 Veterans of the Year awardees are:

Johnny Rojas, U.S. Army – Costa Mesa
Mr. Rojas is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a member of American Legion Post 291. As Chapter President for Orange County’s Veteran’s Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), Johnny has helped fellow veterans learn about VA loans and secure homeownership. He serves his community as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Costa Mesa.

Wayne (Russ) Dohrmann, U.S. Army – Huntington Beach
Mr. Dohrmann served in the Army, stateside and in the National Guard in artillery from 1970-1976 at both Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He is Commander of American Legion Post 133 in Huntington Beach, and serves on the Honor Guard. He also serves his community by serving veterans and those who have encountered life setbacks with rent, food and utilities through the Orange County Veterans & Military Families Collaborative.

Beverly Daugherty, U.S. Marine Corps – Irvine
After her service in the Marine Corps, Sgt. Beverly Daugherty worked for 37 years for the Los Angeles County Department of Probation. She remained active within the veteran community as a member of the Women’s Marines Association of Orange County, holding several leadership positions, including Chaplain. Sgt. Daugherty has been active with her community as a member of Orange Coast Church and the Philanthropic Education Organization (P.E.O) Chapter PB, promoting educational opportunities for women.

Charles J. Quilter, II, U.S. Marine Corps – Laguna Beach
Colonel Quilter has over 43 years of combined active and reserve service. His first deployment was as an F-4B Phantom pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531 (VMFA-531) to Puerto Rico near the end of the Dominican Civil War. He flew 252 combat missions with VMFA-323 in Vietnam, rising to flight commander. Colonel Quilter was recalled from retirement for Operation Iraqi Freedom at the age of 61. As a historian, he was written a number of books on Marine Corps history.

Donald R. Forden, U.S. Army – Laguna Woods
Colonel Forden served in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Since the end of his service, Colonel Forden has worked as a school counselor and psychologist, adjunct professor for a university, hospice/palliative care chaplain for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Hospital in Loma Linda, and volunteered at the Riverside National Cemetery. Colonel Forden offers free haircuts to neighborhood veterans.

Brian Fleming, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps – Newport Beach
Mr. Fleming joined the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17. He was deployed to Iraq, where he served bravely under intense combat, receiving the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Valor and a Purple Heart Medal for being wounded when a roadside bomb detonated near his position. After eight years of service, four deployments, and visiting 12 foreign countries, Mr. Fleming found his calling in the civilian world through veteran’s organizations. He is the First Vice Commander at the American Legion Post 291 and has been commander of their nationally recognized honor guard and color guard teams since 2013.

Congratulations to our Veterans of the Year 2022 and thank you for your service!

During the ceremony, I was proud to present a $2.5 million check to Irvine Valley College for the expansion of the Veterans Services Center. I was successful in securing this funding in the 2022-23 budget.