Jillian Madocs ’19
Siena’s annual Veterans Recognition Dinner was held Thursday, November 9 in honor of Colonel (R) John F. Purcell ’48, Ph. D. The evening featured a keynote address from Michael C. Finnegan ’78 Esq. and the presentation of the 2017 Siena College Veteran and Cadet Awards to three current students.
Finnegan, a commissioned Second Lieutenant, earned his JD from Pace University. During law school, he served in the Active Reserves, and received an Honorable Discharge in 1986. He has been recognized numerous times for his outstanding service in government, including the Conspicuous Service Medal, New York’s highest award for civilian service.
From the beginning of his time at the College, Finnegan had a plan of what he was looking to accomplish in his life, and believed that Siena would be the perfect place to help him achieve his goals.
“I remember coming here thinking that I was going to get an instruction on how to go to law school, how to be a soldier, and how to get into politics. I chose to come to Siena because I had a vague idea that I wanted to do those three things with my life.”
Finnegan felt very fortunate to have been offered even more from his time in college, a well-rounded, traditional liberal arts education.
“I came here to get an instruction in the basics of how to succeed in life and what I came away with was an education and the idea of an education in the tradition of the liberal arts institution. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the Siena College tradition.”
After government service, Finnegan stood as Managing Director at JP Morgan’s Investment Bank. While at JP Morgan he continued to attract attention and awards for his work in Environmental Finance and Government Capital Markets.
Inspired by the tragic events of September 11, he returned to service in 2003, giving up a promising career in politics and on Wall Street. He was recommissioned to the prestigious US Army JAG Corps as the oldest 1LT in the Army at age 53 after becoming the oldest ever graduate of the Officer’s Basic Course. He described this remarkable achievement as one of the most important and transformative experiences of his life.
Finnegan was Honorably Discharged for the second time in June 2015 as the oldest Captain in the United States Army. His service awards are numerous and include the Meritorious Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
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The 2017 ROTC Hall of Fame inductee was awarded posthumously to Colonel (R) John F. Purcell ’48, Ph. D, a World War II veteran. He enlisted in the Navy at age 17, serving in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre at sea and on land in Hawaii, Guam, and Okinawa. At the end of the war, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class. He enrolled at Siena and graduated with a BA in Sociology in 1948. Purcell also received the Doctorate in Scientific Psychology from the Fordham University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in New York City. His induction was conducted posthumously.
The 2017 Siena College Veteran Award was presented to Gary Thompson ’19, and Devon Wentworth ’19 was the recipient of the Cadet Award. The Siena College Veteran and Cadet Fund was established by alumni and friends of Siena College along with the Professor of Military Science, Reserve Officer Training Corps to assist veterans of the United States Armed Forces and Cadets of the Mohawk Battalion, Reserve Officer Training Corps with reasonable expenses associated with attending Siena College. Lead donors to this fund include Mr. John W. Atkinson ’86 and Mr. James S. Scully ’87.
Daniel Hill ’18 was the recipient of the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund Award. This award is given to a diverse group of students including civilians, ROTC cadets, military family members and veterans. It was founded by 1LT Joe Theinert’s family after he was killed in action during combat operations in Afghanistan on June 4, 2010.