LAWRENCE – Jessiel Alfonzo missed out on things a typical 20-year-old would have been around for the past year.
“Holidays. Birthdays. I missed my mom’s birthday two years in a row, but I’m going to make it up for her being home this year,” he said.
Alfonzo returned home from Afghanistan in February, decorated with the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal. On Tuesday night, the Lawrence City Council had the Central Catholic High ROTC and fellow veteran Edmund Lozowski present Alfonzo with a flag. Alfonzo graduated from Central Catholic in 2012.
Lozowski, 81, served in the army from 1951 to 1954, during the Korean War. He was awarded a Purple Heart, a Combat Infantry Badge, the Japan Occupation Ribbon, the Korean Campaign Ribbon and the United Nation Ribbon.
“I just want to thank everybody. It makes the 8 months I went over there worth it, even better,” he said.
He presented the council with a patch displaying the Afghan flag alongside the U.S. flag, commemorating his mission, which was to train Afghan soldiers in detainee operations.
The short ceremony was a part of Councilor Marc Laplante’s initiative to recognize city veterans for their service. Prior to the council meeting, there was an outdoor flag raising ceremony carried out by ROTC students.
“The last year was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do in life,” Alfonzo said. “I love this country. I love this city. I love my family. I’d do it all over again.”