Executive Board Officers
President: 1stLt Matt Hicks, USMC
Senior Vice President/President Elect: VACANT
VP Secretary and: LT Susan Monks, USCG
VP Newsletter: MAJ Phil Cruz USA
VP Treasurer: LTC Jeff Jensen USA
VP Webmaster, Past President: Lt Col John Simonetti USAF
VP Membership: Donna Cole
VP Veterans Affairs, Past President: 1LT Al Smith USA
VP Programs: 1LT Don Boyle USA
VP Chaplain: CPT David Tross USA
Captain Mary Durand USN and CPT Donna Monteleone USA
Lt Matthew Hicks, USMC
Matt is a 1987 USMC Officers Candidate School Platoon Leaders Class graduate. Upon graduation in May of 1988 from Kenyon College with a BA in political Science Matt was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and reported to the USMC Basic School in August of 1988. After completion of The Basic School at Quantico, VA., Matt completed MOS training at Camp Lejeune, NC and was assigned to the First Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment (Artillery) of the First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, CA.
Matt served as the Battalion Motor Transport Officer during numerous deployments to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and a deployment to Southwest Asia, participating in combat operations going into Kuwait City as a member of Task Force Papa Bear and Task Force Ripper during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Matt left active duty in August of 1991 and remained a member of the USMC Individual Ready Reserve until December of 1993.
After leaving active duty, Matt has spent thirty years as a member of the Wall Street community in both institutional and retail sales roles. In his retail sales roles, Matt has worked with a number of our active-duty forces and retired military personnel. He feels that it is his duty to give his Wall Street skill set to those who continue serve our great nation.
Matt passionately believes in giving back to his local community. Matt is a Deputy Chief in the Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management and he is the Junior Vice Commandant of the Ridgefield Detachment of the Marine Corps League in Ridgefield, CT where Matt and his wife Daniella live. Matt has a son who is an engineering student a Virginia Tech and a daughter at Ridgefield High School.
Past President, VP – Veterans Affairs
LT Al Smith, USA Al Smith graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1965 with a BA in Economics. He was drafted into the Army in Nov ’65, taking Basic Training at Ft Dix, Advanced Infantry Training at Ft Jackson and Officer Candidate School at Ft Benning.
As a 2nd Lieutenant his first assignment was as a Basic Training Officer at Ft Campbell. In April ’67 he received his orders for Vietnam, assigned to the 1st Infantry Division as an Infantry Platoon Leader. He later served as a Mortar Platoon Leader and was the company’s Executive Officer during the TET offensive.
Upon returning from his tour in Vietnam he was assigned as the Officer Candidate School Recruiting Officer visiting colleges / universities in the Boston area.
Al left the military in Nov 1968 to start a career in the private sector. He worked for Shell Oil, Avon Products (including a three year assignment in Tokyo, Japan) and CEL Communications. He retired after 17 years with Lee Hecht Harrison.
Al spends much of his retirement time supporting several causes and organizations he feels strongly about: (1) Assisting Veterans – as a member of a Veterans Advisory Panel in CT District #5, conducting job search sessions at veteran events and as a VITAS volunteer visiting veterans in hospice; (2) Volunteering as a Citizen Leader for No Labels, a national grassroots movement focused on bringing our congressional leaders together to start solving the country’s problems through bipartisan governance; (3) Conducting a job search class for TBICO, a not-for-profit assisting women trying to find employment; And, (4) Chairing the succession planning committee for the SHRM HR Association of NY.
Al and his wife Maribeth live in Brookfield, CT. They have a son and three grand-daughters.
Past President, VP – Webmaster
Lt Col John F. Simonetti, USAF (Ret) Lieutenant Colonel John F. Simonetti was born Oct 12, 1957 in Derby, Connecticut. After graduating High School at Fairfield Prep in 1975 he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY graduating in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science Degree (Cum Laude) in Physics. In 1981 he earned his commission at the Air Force Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, TX. He is a graduate of Squadron Officer’s School (1985), Air Command and Staff College (1995), and holds a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (1997).
Lieutenant Colonel Simonetti earned his pilot wings in 1981at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas as a Distinguished Graduate and winner of the Academic Award from Undergraduate Pilot Training. From there he was assigned to the 25th Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma as an instructor pilot in the T-38. In March 1986 he attended F-16 Basic Training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona and graduated in October, 1986. His first F-16 assignment was to the 496th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Hahn Airbase, Germany. There he also served as squadron Standardization and Evaluation Liaison Officer and Assistant Chief of Wing Training for the 51 Tactical Fighter Wing. In 1989, Lieutenant Colonel Simonetti was assigned as Air Liaison Officer to the 8th Infantry Division of the US Army in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. In October, 1990 he volunteered to serve in Operation Desert Shield and was reassigned to the 12th Aviation Brigade already in place at King Fahd Airport, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During Operation Desert Storm, Lieutenant Colonel Simonetti’s unit participated in history’s largest air assault operation in conjunction with the 101st Airborne Division’s movement into Iraq.
Immediately after the war, Lieutenant Colonel Simonetti was selected as initial cadre member of the 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. After requalification and Block 40 F-16 training at MacDill and Luke Air Force Bases, he arrived in Alaska in December, 1991. There he served as F-16 instructor pilot, flight commander, and Chief of Wing Stan Eval. Reassigned to 17th Air Force Headquarters, Sembach Airbase, Germany in February 1995 as Chief of Safety, Lt Col Simonetti witnessed the closure of that command and was asked to serve as F-16 evaluator on the United States Air Force, Europe Standardization and Evaluation Team. He rose to become Chief of that office in 1997 and in July 1998 was reassigned to Luke as an instructor pilot and assistant operations officer in the 309th Fighter Squadron. Lieutenant Colonel Simonetti completed his tour at Luke as the assistant operations officer in the 56th Operational Support Squadron and instructor pilot in the 310th Fighter Squadron.
A command pilot with over 3300 Flying hours, Lieutenant Colonel Simonetti has over 2000 hours in F-16. His military decorations include the Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Readiness Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Armed Forced Expeditionary Medal, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.
Lieutenant Colonel Simonetti is married to the former Louise B. Anziano from Trumbull, Connecticut. They have twin sons John and Joseph, 30, who are married and live in the DC area.
VP – Membership
Donna Lynne Palmer Cole was born July 28, 1946 in Winnipeg Manitoba. Her father served in the Canadian Air Force during WWII and over twenty years afterwards. In 1968, Donna graduated from Grace Hospital School of Nursing in Winnipeg. In 1976, she was one of the fifteen Canadian nurses chosen to help open King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was while working there that she would meet her future husband, Lt. Col. (Ret.) David P. Cole. They were married in Barrie, Ontario, Canada in 1979 and subsequently moved to Norwalk, Connecticut to start their lives together. Together they worked as part of and in conjunction with various military organizations, including the WCMOAA. While her husband passed in July of last year, Donna continues her work with veterans and the community.
VP – Secretary
LT Susan Stuban Monks USNR. B.S. United States Merchant Marine Academy 1982. U.S. Coast Guard Third Mate of Steam and Motor Vessels, Unlimited Tonnage. J.D. Quinnipiac University School of Law 1990. Admitted to the Connecticut Bar, U.S. District Court, U.S. Court of Military Appeals. Atlantic Richfield Oil Company, served as 3rd Officer of oil super tankers in the Alaskan crude oil trade, 1982-84. Communication Electronics Command (CECOM), Fort Monmouth, NJ, Engineer for electronic warfare equipment installed on the AH-64 Apache and AH-1 Cobra helicopters. Maintenance Engineer for the ASN 128 Doppler Navigation System and the ALQ-136 Countermeasure Set, 1984-86. Transitioned from Individual Ready Reservist to active service as the Operations Officer and Navigator for the flagship MV CPL Louis J. Hauge Jr.’s maiden voyage executing the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron II mission in Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Terminal, 1985. Reserve Officer attached to the Naval Control of Shipping (NCSO) Unit 601, New Haven, CT, 1987-1992. Attorney General Office, Pago Pago, American Samoa, Legal Intern, 1988. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Counsel, Superfund Enforcement Attorney, 1990-1994. Adjunct Professor of Law, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Naugatuck Valley Community College, and Western Connecticut State University, 1994-present. Magistrate, Connecticut Superior Court, 2011-present.
Susan resides in Trumbull. She has five children and two grandchildren.
VP – Programs
LT Donald Boyle, USAR (Ret), B.S.Biology,Norwich University 1968, MS Biology, Hofstra University. Vietnam Veteran, Purple Heart Recipient, 1/77 Armor, 5th Mechanized Infantry Brigade. Morgan Stanley securities broker. Bank of America, loan consultant. Now retired.
VP – Chaplain
Captain David Tyrone Elvis Tross, USAR. CPT Tross was born as a first generation
American to Caribbean parents on Dec 29 th , 1982 in Bronx, New York. He attended and
graduated from Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego, California in May 2000.
Captain Tross received his Bachelor's degree from Southern Connecticut State
University in Sociology. He later went on to Crown College in Minnesota and received
his Master's Degree in Divinity. Captain Tross is currently enrolled in The College of
Metaphysical Studies, Santa Barbara, California to receive his Doctorate.
Captain Tross decided to serve this great country on Aug 27, 2000 as an active-dutyNavy Sailor graduating from Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois.
Throughout his 7-year Active-Duty Naval career, Tross was attached to Amphibious
Construction Battalion Two in Little Creek, Virginia; Amphibious Construction Battalion
One in Coronado, California; Port Operations in Newport, Rhode Island and Port
Operations in New London, Connecticut. Tross made it to the rank of Boatswain Mate
Second Class, (BM2) were he also achieved various qualifications, awards and medals
such as but not limited to, Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist (SCWS) and Small Craft
In March 2008, Tross decided to leave active-duty Navy life and joined the Connecticut
Army National Guard as a Military Police (31B) Soldier. While in the Connecticut Army
National Guard, Tross achieved many qualifications and awards. Tross also obtained a
second Military Occupational Specialty as a Correction/Detention Specialist (31E).
In Sept 2021, Tross was direct Commission to Chaplain in the United States Army
Reserve as a 1LT. Due to his educational and professional background, Tross’ date of
rank was revised to March 03, 2020.
Chaplain Tross currently serves as the Battalion Chaplain for the 744 th Military Police
Battalion out of Easton, Pennsylvania. Chaplain Tross is a true servant under God’s
watchful eye as he loves to help others, give back to the community, serve his town, his
state and his country on different levels and capacities. He also serves as a Minister in
Triumph Christian Center in Waterbury, Connecticut and sits on the Trustee Board as
well. He also holds a position as Dean of Academic Affairs for the T.I.M Bible College &
Chaplain Tross resides in the smallest best town in Connecticut, Prospect, with his wife
Nikki and 2 children. His oldest son lives in Nebraska.
YAA Co-Chair: Captain Mary Durand, USN (Ret)
CAPT Mary Durand, Nurse Corps, USN (Ret) Captain Durand started her Navy life as the daughter of a 30-year career Naval aviator; born in Annapolis, Maryland, she traveled widely with her family. She is proud of her father’s career which started as E-1 and retired as O-6. She is equally proud of her brother who served as a SEABEE in Vietnam and her nephew who a retired Navy JAG Commander.
Captain Mary Durand started her own Navy career as a Selected Reservist, serving seven years before being recalled to active duty. Her 13 years of civilian nursing experience included trauma, burn, operating room, critical care and dialysis nursing. She completed her Masters Degree in Adult Health Nursing and licensure as an Adult Nurse Practitioner prior to starting active duty in 1988. While on active duty she served in various medical-surgical positions at Pensacola, as the community health nurse on a developmental team in Okinawa, and then in the Tidewater, (first completing a dual Master’s Degree in Nursing through DUINS as a Family Nurse Practitioner and Community Health Nurse; then as the Senior Nurse at Oceana Branch clinic). Assigned as one of the first Family Nurse Practitioners ADDU to SURFLANT from the Naval Medical Center, Captain Durand enthusiastically brought primary care and health promotion services to the deck plates; serving on over 40 different “small boy” ships with a total of 186 days underway. She deployed for 178 days as the senior officer to the Camp Doha clinic in Kuwait and served with Army medical providers. Captain Durand rounded out her 27-year career with a tour at NATTTC clinic in Pensacola, Florida providing primary care and health promotions services to a large joint service training community.
Captain Durand’s personal awards include the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation medal with two gold stars, Navy Achievement medal with one gold star, and the Military outstanding volunteer medal. Other awards include: Meritorious Unit Commendation with two stars, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, and the National Defense Ribbon.
Captain Durand has one daughter, Alison, who works for Principal Financial Group, married with three children; and one son, Alan, who is a professional rock and ice climbing guide, Mohonk Preserve Park Ranger, and CAD engineer, married with one child. CAPT Durand is married to Anthony Barca, a Howard Hanna/Rand Realty agent.
VP – Newsletter
MAJ. Philip J. Cruz USA (Ret) B.S Secondary Education Western Connecticut State University 1976, M.A.T. Sacred Heart University 1996, Educational Administration Certification Sacred Heart University 2005, Graduate, United States Army Command and General Staff College 1992, Fort Leavenworth Kansas.
MAJ Cruz joined the United States Army Reserve as an enlisted man in 1971 and served within the enlisted ranks from E1Supply Clerk to E7 Chief Senior Supply Sergeant. He was selected as one of a very few enlisted soldiers to receive a direct commission as an Quartermaster Officer in the United States Army Reserve by the Secretary of the Army in March 1980. MAJ Cruz has served as Logistics, Transportation, Training, and Civil Affair officers within the duration of his 25-year tour with The 76th Training Division and Special Operations Command (USSOC). His last Billet was as HHC Detachment Commander 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.
MAJ Cruz works as a teacher for the Newtown Board of Education. He is an 8th grade Social Studies and Language Arts teacher for the Newtown Middle School. He has taught in the Newtown District for the past 23 years. Prior to his teaching career MAJ Cruz was a Sales Engineering Manager for three nationally prominent Semiconductor companies Intel, National Semiconductor, and Fairchild Semiconductor Corporations serving the electronic and information processing fields.
He resides in Newtown with his wife Sandra. They have two children daughter Amanda, residing In the D.C.area, and a son Andrew, who passed away in 2008.