Written by Lorraine Silvetz, MSW
The Water Club Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Msgr. Franco, CMSgt (Ret) Ed Schloeman, Honoree Mark Wachter and NYPD Horse Unit Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Operation Warrior Shields’ (OWS) Healing for Heroes Gala was held at the Water Club on November 18, 2021. It was one of the first Galas in Manhattan since the pandemic began. It was a magical evening with an almost full moon hanging in the sky over the well known Water Club. Friends and supporters came to celebrate OWS’s efforts to fund training of Canine Companions for veterans and law enforcement officials impacted by PTSD.
CMSgt (Ret) Ed Schloeman Photo credit: Jeff Smith
CMSgt (Ret) Ed Schloeman, his wife, Judy and grandchildren Photo credit: Jeff Smith
In partnership with Hope For Heroes and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, OWS’ goal
is providing uniquely trained, loving and supportive canine companions to veterans, first responders and their families who live with physical and emotional injuries sustained in the line of duty.
1966 Vietnam CMSgt (Ret.) Edward Schloeman, President and CEO of Operation Warrior Shield stated:“Our companion dogs unconditionally bring a sense of safety, camaraderie, and most importantly, a special emotional support that helps minimize stress and challenges that our heroes face each and every day.”
Peter Reginato, Daniela Zahradnikova, CMSgt (Ret) Ed Schloeman, Aurora Aquino, Lisa Vincenzi and Rudy Saviano Photo credit: Jeff Smith
ReBecca Ricks, Lorraine Silvetz, Avadora Mimouni, Sara Johnson Kaplan, Lucia Kaiser, Jennifer Harrison Photo credit: Jeff Smith
CMSgt Ed Schloeman opened the evening thanking everyone:
“We are here tonight to show support for America’s Heroes: The First Responder, The Military,The Veteran, and their families. And unfortunately, we need to recognize that there still is an epidemic in our communities—Suicide, brought about by Toxic Stress i.e., Post-Traumatic Stress. But, we have their backs! Operation Warrior Shield is actively supporting our Heroes and working with such great organizations as NYC Dept. of Veterans Services, David Lynch Foundation, NYPD Health& Wellness Section, The Doris Day Animal Foundation, Hope For Heroes, Branding Ovation (in naming just a few), but also, WITH YOU. Tonight is special too, as we are honored to present our first Companion Dogs, YELLIN and LOUIE, to Marine Veterans David Tupper and Carlos Figueroa. So, let’s plant the flag together against this epidemic and contribute what you can to bring the support to those who need us. Thank you all again. God Bless America and these Heroes. And you! SEMPER FI”
Honorees Mark Wachter and Wilem S. Wong Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Operation Warrior Shield’s honorees included NYPD Sergeant Wilem Wong (Special Assignment) with over 21 years of combined creditable service to New York City and New York State. He has worked in NYPD assignments in project & program management, leadership & training development, development of health and wellness initiatives, investigations, and patrol operations. In his military capacity, he has served over 33 years (Enlisted and Commissioned Service) in the United States Army Reserve as a Combat Medic, Licensed Practical Nurse, as well as a Health Services Planning, Operations and Training Officer. Currently, he holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring
Freedom – Afghanistan. His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, and Basic Parachutist Badge. He earned a M.A. in Management and Leadership from Webster University and a B.S. in Finance from New York University. He considered himself an accidental long distance runner a la “Forrest Gump” with four marathons completed across the United States.
Police Officer, William Palmer with K9 Jenny Lt. Janna Salisbury DI Mark Wachter Sgt. Karolina Ostrowska-Tuznik Det. Ronald Thomas with K9 Piper Sgt. Siobhan Murphy Det. Charles Sadler Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Honoree, NYPD Deputy Inspector Mark Wachter began his career in February 1992.
One of the many units under his purview is the Employee Assistance Unit, where under his leadership, many projects and initiatives came to fruition. In August, 2019 Deputy Inspector Wachter was transferred along with the Employee Assistance Unit to the newly established Health and Wellness Section, where he also oversees the Wellness Outreach Support Unit. There is now a Health and Wellness App on all 35,000 Department smartphones, allowing members to access resources at their fingertips. On this app lists all the Department Peer Support members, a program launched in October, 2019, to ensure trained peers in commands are available to assist and proactively check in with fellow members. Along with a Wellness video series, 55,000 members were trained via TACTICS on the purpose of the Employee Assistance Unit. Deputy Inspector Wachter’s tireless dedication to helping all members of the service has resulted in new and innovative methods to address overall wellness for the Department including the newly formed Therapy K9 Unit.
US Marine Corps Color Guard Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Honoree Marine Corporal (Ret.) David Tupper made the commitment to serve his country at
the age of 17. For 2 years he served as a Soldier with the 101st airborne before making the decision to join the Marine Corps infantry in 2003. In 2004 he deployed to Fallujah Iraq where he fought in one of the deadliest battles in the Iraq war known as Operation Phantom Fury. In 2012, Sgt. Tupper deployed
for his 3rd combat tour to Afghanistan leading Marines as a platoon sergeant. He lead his Marines out on a patrol when they came under rocket propelled grenade fire. While Sgt.Tupper directed his Marines away from oncoming fire he stayed behind his platoon to get a better view of the enemy and ensure their safety. This is when a second RPG was fired, exploding feet away from his position knocking him unconscious and propelling him into the air ultimately landing on his neck. Sgt.Tupper suffered multiple injuries from the blast to include a traumatic brain injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He continues to serve his country as a motivational speaker.
William Grodnick and Ed Schloeman Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Sam Cachola, Ed Schloeman, Michael Daly, Tony Garfallo, and Errol Rappaport Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Carlos Figueroa and man’s best friend!! Photo credit: Rob Rich
Honoree Marine Corps And Army Veteran Carlos Figueroa served as an Army combat engineer
and defused improvised explosive devices in Iraq. In 2003, his vehicle passed over and triggered an IED. The blast fractured his ribs and his jaw. Despite his injuries, he decided to remain with his squad. Two months later, his vehicle triggered another IED. As a result, Sgt. Figueroa suffered a traumatic brain injury, spinal damage and extensive injuries to his leg. After more than a dozen surgeries and years of debilitating pain, he would eventually lose his leg. His 13-year-old daughter, Lilly, was born with her legs fused together and this condition led to a double amputation below the knee. He describes her as one of the bravest and most resilient persons anyone can meet. Carlos works with many veterans organizations supporting their causes.
Cindy Marinangel Photo credit: Rob Rich
Operation Warrior Shield’s emcee for the evening was Cindy Marinangel, an international actress, a Lifetime Member of The Actors Studio (having studied under Mark Rydell, the late Martin Landau, and Ellen Burstyn.) She is a Chicago Second City Conservatory graduate (Nia Vardalos, Stephen Colbert). On TV, she was recently seen in UPtv’s holiday special “Beverly Hills Christmas” with Dean Cain. Cindy produces and stars in “Dietrich”, an acclaimed new solo show (written by playwright Willard Manus) which honors legendary performer, patriot and feminist Marlene Dietrich. The play-with-music takes place in 1960 on the night she returned to Germany to perform for the first time since fleeing the Nazi regime in the late 1930’s. Amidst assassination threats, Dietrich has to decide whether or not to go on with the concert.
Jessy Moya, Cindy Marinangel, Errol Rapaport, Gary Springer, Daniela Zahradnikova and Chris Halecki Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Robert and Lorraine Silvetz Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Cindy is the owner of Angel Baker Productions. With her international, creative team she wrote, produced and starred in “Eternal Waltz”, a story about asoul connection through lifetimes (sponsored in part by the Johann Strauss Foundation of Germany). She and her cast won “Best Acting Ensemble-Short” in the Culver City Film Festival and screened in Amsterdam, Las Vegas as well as Woodstock, NY this summer.
Peter Reginato and Daniela Zahradnikova Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Annie and Harold Freedland, Judy Gilbert, Errol Rappaport and Michael Daly. Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Another notable in support of OWS’s Healing for Heroes is Actor, Director, Writer, Producer, Tony LoBianco. Tony Lo Bianco starred in the Academy Award-winning film The French Connection. He was unable to attend but appeared digitally during the event. He is a Tony-nominated and best actor winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge on Broadway, an Obie Award for Yanks-3 Detroit-0 Top of the 7th and an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Fiorello La Guardia in Hizzoner! Tony is a Lifetime Member of The Actor’s Studio, has been in over 100 films including The Juror, Blood Brothers, City Heat, Nixon, The Seven Ups, Honeymoon Killers and Fist. Tony has directed one feature and 5 television shows. Tony has just returned from filming a movie with Ray Romano and Laurie Metcalf that will premiere in 2022. Tony is proud of his involvement with The USO, Building Homes for Heroes, The Wounded Warrior Project, the Police and Fire Departments and especially Operation Warrior Shield. Tony is also a lifetime member of The Actor’s Studio. Tony is married to the love of his life, the beautiful and talented Alyse.
Lorraine Silvetz, David and Barbara Bender and Avadora Mimouni Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Mike Marino Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Healing for Heroes’ Performers included comedian, Mike Marino. With over 20 years of stand up and touring experience, Mike Marino has perfected his unique and relatable comedic style, which ranges from cutting edge observations of everyday life, to his Italian family roots, to brutally honest political commentary. He has performed in every major comedy club, theatre, casino and event center from New York to Los Angeles and around the world, He has also shared the stage with some of the biggest names in the business. Mike has the unique ability to tailor his performance to any audience, young or old, large or small. His comedy can range from clean and family friendly, to down and dirty. Mike began his career in commercials and TV, and has since had a starring role in several feature films, all while maintaining his busy touring schedule. He has appeared on several talk and radio shows, including The Tonight Show and Canada’s Comedy TV. He has also performed at hundreds of corporate functions for companies including AT&T and American Express.
Steve Maglio Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Another performer, Steven Maglio, also was part of the lineup at the Healing for Heroes Gala.
Though NOT an impersonator, Steven Maglio is considered to be the world’s premier Frank Sinatra tributeer. At more than 17 years, his Saturday evening show at The Carnegie Club is currently “The Longest Running Nightclub Show in New York City.” Steven has performed in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, and internationally in Canada, Italy, Ecuador, and Brazil. He’s shared the stage with Frankie Valli, Wayne Newton, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, Deana Martin, Steve Tyrell, Jay Leno, and Tony Orlando, to name just a few. He was also the singing voice in the Danny DeVito Limoncello Ad and the PANDORA Jewelry Christmas commercial that was seen on television globally in 2018. Mr. Maglio has made three CDs, appeared in multiple movies, and is a proud member of The Screen Actors Guild and The Society of Singers, as well as being a member of the entertainment industries most prestigious social gathering place, The Friars Club. To quote Vincent Falcone, long-time pianist & conductor for Frank Sinatra, “Steven is one of the finest singers keeping The Great American Songbook alive since ‘The Old Man’ himself.”
Michelle DellaFave Photo credit: Rob Rich
Michelle DellaFave became a familiar face to millions of television viewers
starting in 1969 and through the early 1970s, singing and dancing each week on
Dean Martin’s wildly popular NBC television series. Born in New York City with a show business pedigree (her Mother was a dancer, her father, a drummer), Michelle seemed destined to follow in her parents’ footsteps — and sure enough, right out of high school, she was chosen to join what would become the last set of Copa Girls, the chorus line at New York’s famed Copacabana nightclub.
A few months into that stint, at the age of 19, Michelle answered an open call and was picked to be one of Dean Martin’s singing-dancing Golddiggers, both on his show and on the group’s own network summer variety series. That, in turn, led to her selection as one of four members of The Dingaling Sisters, who for three years performed their own numbers and sang with Dean and his guest stars on every episode of his program. In addition to appearing with The Golddiggers and Dingalings in nightclubs around the country, Michelle also joined those troupes for two consecutive Bob Hope USO Tours of American military bases around the world. And during the early ‘70s, she was featured regularly as one-half of the singing-dancing “Soul Sisters” on Jonathan Winters’ syndicated TV series.
Honoree Wilem S Wong and guests Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Avadora Mimouni, Flora and Liza Pllumaj, Yasmeen Gumbs and Lorraine Silvetz Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Over the years, Michelle has also been seen on-stage in Equity plays and musicals, and on-camera in television commercials. In recent years, she’s recorded and self-produced four CDs and several singles, sung in major New York City nightclubs (including headlining a number of her own shows), and performed for and supported not only a variety of Veterans’ organizations and events, but those dedicated to world peace, as well. Meanwhile, she continues as a soloist at Manhattan’s St. Mark’s Church in-the- Bowery, and has a set of new song offerings coming out soon.
Sara Johnson Kaplan and Jennifer Harrison Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Errol Rappaport, Cindy Marinangel and Patric Hale Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Another performer during the evening, Patric Hale is known as “the Meistersinger” because he sings everything from classic Rock ‘n Roll, to pop music, to the Rat Pack classics to Italian canzone and German Lieder to opera arias in Italian, French, and German both as a tenor and a baritone. Winner of the NYC “Mario Lanza Competition” and runner-up in the NYC “Dean Martin Competition”, he has lived in four different countries, speaks 5 languages, and sung literally around the world. He supported the OWS Gala because he loves America and our veterans coming from a long line of members of his family who served our country with pride, several of whom were injured before anyone knew what PTSD was and that TM could have helped. He has recorded over 30 CDs with 450 songs. His newest one, Songs of Inspiration was available for purchase after the show with proceeds going to OWS.
Brett Cotter, Ross Guttler, Lucia Kaiser, Judy Kuriansky, and Aurora Aquino Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Stephanie and Joel Roth, Errol Rappaport and Jessy Moya Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Lorraine Silvetz, Abe Shainberg and Yasmeen Gumbs-Breakenridge Photo credit: Gino Franco
Support from designers, entrepreneurs, artists, photographers among others could not have been illustrated more clearly than at the impressive silent and live auction. Peter Reginato donated his paintings to be auctioned at the event. Model and Designer, Avadora Mimouni of Avadora Mimouni Collection donated her luxury bags to help raise funds for OWS. Several longtime supporters of OWS including Errol Rappaport as Good Will Ambassador for OWS, Lorraine Silvetz, Judy Kuriansky, Jose Orellana of ClickMagazine and Lucia Kaiser invited many supporters to the auction and event. Bethann Carbone and Michael Heil of Branding Ovation donated branding development and design services for the Operation Canine Companion initiative theme, as well as marketing and PR services. Everyone was happy to do all that they could in support of our veterans and law enforcement officers. Notable NY Society Event photographers, Jeff Smith, Rob Rich and Gino Franco donated their photographic services for a night which will be long remembered.
Operation Warrior Shield team and supporters Photo credit: Jeff Smith
Errol Rappaport, Bethann Carbone, Hanna Habboub, Ed Schloeman, Cindy Marinangel, Judith Schloeman, and Michael Heil
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