Neil Cervenka, a Turlock Police sergeant and former Air Force reservist, has been named the 26th Assembly District 2011 Veteran of the Year.
Cervenka was selected by Assemblyman Bill Berryhill and joined him and a host of other veterans from around California on June 22 for the fourth annual Veteran of the Year Recognition Luncheon at the state capital.
“It was very humbling to be honored with that group,” Cervenka said of the ceremony.
Cervenka’s roots in the Air Force run back to his grandfather. Joining up had been an ambition for Cervenka as a child and a young man, so when given the opportunity to enlist at age 17, he didn’t think twice.
“From a very young age I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Cervenka said.
After basic training, Cervenka was stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Montana where he stood watch over the nation’s Minuteman III Nuclear ICBM’s. Later he was stationed at Osan AFB, South Korea, where he was assigned to the Fire Direction Center and Customs Enforcement. Cervenka was also deployed overseas to Incerlik Air Base in Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch, the enforcement of a “No-Fly Zone” over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the late 90s.
Cervenka left active duty and joined the Air Force Reserves in 1998. Cervenka’s reserve duty took him to stations at Cairo Air Base, Egypt and Ramstein Air Base, Germany. On Sept. 23, 2001, Cervenka was activated for 13 months to support Operation Noble Eagle/Homeland Defense.
During his military stint Cervenka was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for saving an 8-year-old boy who was being mauled by two Rottweiler dogs.
As a member of the Turlock Police Department, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2007 for lifting a car off of a man while on duty. The car had crashed through the man’s home and landed on him while he lay in bed.
“Neil’s commitment to his nation, to freedom and the American way of life is an example of how to become successful while being at the service of your nation and your community. Thank you for your service Neil,” Berryhill said.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.