Connecticut celebrates 67th annual Armed Forces Day Luncheon Published June 4, 2016 By Allison L. Joanis Connecticut National Guard, Public Affairs STATE ARMORY, Hartford, Conn. -- A record number of military members, Veterans and supporters came out to celebrate the men and women of America's military at the 2016 Connecticut Armed Forces Day luncheon at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington, Connecticut, May 20. The event, hosted by the Connecticut National Guard, is a way to recognize those who have served the state of Connecticut and the United States. The 2016 luncheon proved to be the biggest in the 67 years of the luncheon's existence, with a crowd of more than 900 in attendance. On hand to celebrate Connecticut's service members were several local officials to include Governor Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and State Comptroller, Kevin Lembo. Special guest speaker for the event was Sean Connolly, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs. Connolly addressed the crowd filled with Veterans of all ages, specifically calling out and thanking Veterans from each American war and conflict since WWII. "I thank all our women and men of the United States Armed Forces here today and all of our Veterans for your sacrifice, courage and selfless service to our nation," said Connolly. "It is all of you that keep us safe and free." Connolly, who recently marked his one-year anniversary as commissioner, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve, and an East Hartford native. He worked most recently as Pratt & Whitney's Global Ethics and Compliance Officer prior to his confirmation. He is a veteran of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, serving as a prosecutor and brigade legal advisor with the 101st Airborne Division in both Kuwait and Iraq. "Commissioner Connolly has brought a great deal of knowledge and experience to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and we are honored to have him as part of our official party to acknowledge the reserve component service members here in Connecticut," said Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard. Each year, the luncheon recognizes one enlisted service member from each reserve component of the Armed Forces for their outstanding achievements over the past year. This year, the Connecticut National Guard honors went to Sgt. Michael Boscarino, a UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief with C Co., 3-126th Aviation Battalion, CTARNG, and Staff Sgt. Kristel M. Solerti, a personnelist with the 103rd Force Support Squadron, CTANG. Also recognized were Connecticut members from the Army Reserve, the Naval Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve. For the past 67 years, The Connecticut Armed Forces Day luncheon remains as the only function to bring together representation from all of the state's military components to honor their enlisted personnel. Armed Forces Day has been recognized since Aug. 31, 1949, when Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced its creation to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the armed forces under one Department, the Department of Defense.