Master Sgt. (E7) U.S. Air Force as an inventory management supervisor and supply computer systems management superintendent
Duty Stations: 1969-1972 Langley AFB, Va.; 1972-1976 Goose Bay Air Base, Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada; 1976-1982 Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; 1982-1986 RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, England; 1986-1990 Cannon AFB, N.M.
Decorations - Meritorious Service Medal, AF Commendation Medal, AF Outstanding Unit Award with 4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, AF Good Conduct Medal with One Silver Oak Leaf Cluster and 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, AF Overseas Long Tour with 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, AF Longevity Service Award Ribbon with 4 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, NCO Professional Military Education Graduation Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon and AF Training Ribbon.
Sam Gerace, U.S. Air Force
Awards - Honor Graduate- Inventory Management Specialist Course, Lowry AFB, Colo., September 1969; 321st Supply Squadron and 321st Strategic Missile Wing NCO of the Quarter, April 1- June 30, 1979; 27th Supply Squadron and 27th Resource Management Senior NCO of the Quarter for the Fourth Quarter 1986
Master Supply - Fuels Qualification Badge, Feb. 6, 1989
Children - Sharie Allen, husband of Chad; grandsons Jacob and Thomas Lopez, Trey Allen. Stacy Lund, husband Bobby, grandson Michael Gerace.
Samuel T. Gerace was born on Nov. 21, 1949, in Silver Creek. He is the son of the late Sam J. and Sara M. (Cupa) Gerace.
Gerace grew up at 144 King St. with his sister Susan D. (Gerace) Bishoff and attended School 3. In the third grade, he took up the saxophone which he continued to play through high school. He was a member of the Dunkirk Elementary Schools and Dunkirk High School bands. When the Dunkirk Midget League Football program began, he was chosen to play defensive and offensive end on one of the newly formed league's team, the Rams. He was selected to play on the All-Star team both seasons he played.
At 16, Sam (singer), Ray Domanski, 13 (drums), Rod Keppel, 16 (keyboards), Rick Forrester, 15 (lead guitar) and Henry Giacchino, 15 (bass guitar) formed the "garage band," the Vandals. They specialized in covering songs by The Young Rascals and with the help of their friend, Al Sam. They performed in the Dunkirk-Fredonia and surrounding areas. Sam, Ray, Rod and Al were such a close-knit group that they were also members of the Hose Company 4 Murraymen Drum and Bugle Corps. Sam and Ray, both self taught drummers, played tenor and snare drum respectively. Rod was in the horn line and Al was a rifle bearer in the Color Guard. The Murraymen were a top ranked street parade corps but eventually joined the ranks of the field performance corps where they also excelled. It was the discipline and "esprit of corps" of the drum corps that would eventually contribute to his decision to enlist in the military.
After graduating from Dunkirk High School in 1967, Gerace attended Bryant and Stratton Business Institute in Buffalo, was a member of the Student Government Association and graduated in 1969 with a diploma in junior accounting.
With the Vietnam War at its height, Gerace felt it was his duty to serve his country and decided to join the U.S. Air Force based upon the recommendations of his cousin, Charles Ortolano, a former Marine and his friend Chuck Leone, who had recently enlisted in the USAF. On April 9, 1969, he was officially inducted into the Air Force with the rank of Airman Basic. He attended basic military training at Lackland AFB, Texas graduating with a small arms expert marksmanship ribbon on May 21, 1969.
The USAF selected inventory management as his AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) and he attended the inventory management specialist course at Lowry, AFB, Co from June to August 1969. Gerace graduated as an honor graduate from the nine-week course in August 1969 and was assigned to his first duty station, HQTAC (headquarters tactical air command), 4500 supply squadron, Langley AFB, VA.
Working in the Demand Processing and Not Operationally Ready Supply (NORS) After Hours Support Section, he was promoted to Airman First Class (E2/A1C) on Nov. 1, 1969. In this capacity, he was responsible for taking part requests from aircraft maintenance squadrons; issuing and delivering the parts, if available; or backordering them to appropriate supply depots throughout the country. If the item had to be backordered and caused an aircraft to be grounded, it was his responsibility to aggressively try to locate the part at other USAF bases. Gerace and his wife, the former Sheila Metzger of Silver Creek, had their first daughter, Shari Lynn on July 10, 1970. He was promoted to Sergeant (E4/SGT) on Jan. 1, 1971.
In February 1972, he was reassigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) 95th Strategic Wing, Goose Bay Airport, Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. He was assigned to the Transportation Squadron's Vehicle Material Support Section where he was responsible for the ordering of all parts to repair general purpose, heavy equipment and construction vehicles. In addition, he conducted staff assistance visits to USAF Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) sites located in Northern Labrador. Gerace was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant (E5/SSgt) on July 1, 1972. On Feb. 23, 1973, his second daughter Stacie Renee, was born.
In early 1974, the USAF decided to cease their operation of vehicle maintenance and that responsibility was assumed by the Canadian Ministry of Transport (MOT). Gerace was retained by the ministry in order to train ministry personnel in utilizing the USAF supply system. During the summer of 1975 a severe forest fire threatened the local village of Happy Valley Labrador and the 93 million gallons of jet fuel stored at Goose Bay. Gerace, along with all other military personnel, ventured into the forest with water backpacks to fight the fire successfully. For his actions, SSgt. Gerace was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal. In April 1976 he was selected to be reassigned to the Strategic Air Command's (SAC) 321st Missile Wing, Grand Forks AFB, N.D. Upon his departure from Goose Bay, he received the Air Force Commendation medal by distinguishing himself with meritorious service while assigned as NCOIC, USAF/MOT Liaison Section from 1974-1976.
After being assigned to the 321st Transportation Squadron's Vehicle Material Control Section at Grand Forks AFB in July 1976, he was given an opportunity to cross train into the Supply Computer Systems Specialist career field. Upon completion of the six-week course held at Lowry AFB, CO, SSgt Gerace was assigned as computer scheduler, 321st Supply Squadron, Computer Operations Section. His job responsibilities included, but were not limited to, operating the UNIVAC 1050-II mainframe computer, writing specially requested programs and insuring all supply management reports and programs were scheduled and processed error free on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. The 1050-II had only 32k of memory, but was still able to support eight on base and one off base, remote processing stations. Most cell phones today have more memory than this behemoth that took up a 35- by 20-foot room. His numerous letters of appreciation from all levels of the command structure attest to his proficiency at writing the local software programs in so much that the SAC Inspector General (IG) team requested his assistance in writing programs to help with their inspections of all SAC bases. During the Grand Forks Red River flood of 1979 Gerace unselfishly volunteered to fill and place sand bags, walk the dikes and do whatever was necessary to ensure minimal damage.
He received his second Humanitarian Service Medal for his efforts. While assigned to Grand Forks, he was a pitcher on Supply's Slow-pitch Softball Base Championship team, he was ranked 10 on base in racquetball and participated on the Supply Squadron's bowling and flag football teams. He was promoted to the rank of Technical Sergeant (E6TSt) on March 1, 1979 and was selected as the 321st Supply Squadron and 321st Strategic Missile Wing NCO of the Quarter, April 1 through June 30, 1979.
In February 1981, TSgt Gerace graduated from the SAC Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Barksdale AFB LA. Somehow as busy as he was, he managed to enroll in college courses and obtained an associate degree in applied science in material management from the Community College of the Air Force in April 1981. In recognition of his educational achievements, he also received he SAC Outstanding Educational Achievement Award.
March 0f 1982 brought another change of duty station as TSgt Gerace was assigned to the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing's 20th Supply Squadron, RAF Upper Heyford, England. As NCOIC, Supply Computer Operations, he supervised the operation of tow UNIVAC 1050-II computer systems. One of the systems was always online, accepting customer inputs, while the other was processing management reports. It was during this assignment that the USAF had decided to upgrade its base computer system to the new Sperry UNISYS 1100/60 main frame. The Supply Squadron's UNIVAC 1050-11 was deemed obsolete and the supply account would now be part of the base operating system. He was selected to attend an indoctrination course at Gunter AFS, A1 learning the new operating systems capabilities and how the new remote processing station, RPS-II, would satisfy the supply squadron's needs.
On Oct. 1, 1983, he was promoted to the rank of Master Sgt. (E7/MSgt). In September 1984 Master Sgt. Gerace successfully completed the Senior NCO Academy Correspondence Program offered by the Air University.
Gerace continued with his off duty education and in June 1985 he earned his bachelor's degree in management from Park University, Parkville, Mo. He was selected as the Supply Squadron's Senior NCO of the quarter, September 1 through December 1984. In June 1985, he was a member of the Supply Squadron's "Pinbusters" bowling team that captured the base championship. MSgt Gerace's reputation in writing specialty Utility 008 programs and his grasp of internal computing processing formulas led to him being reassigned to the AF System Design Center (AFSDC) at Gunter AFS, Ala. This is a very prestigious assignment for computer personnel as it is where all software and procedures are written for every computer system USAF wide. However, knowing his capabilities, MSgt Jim Yentes, a former staff member of the Headquarters United States Air Force-Europe (HQUSAFE) Supply Computer System Branch and a personal friend of Gerace, now assigned to HQTAC contacted him on behalf of Brigadier General James M. Johnston III. As a personal favor, MSgt Yentes asked him to consider accepting Cannon AFB, N.M. as his next duty assignment instead of Gunter, as Cannon was an account that needed immediate computer operations management attention.
In June 1986, with incentives offered by HQTAC, Master Sgt. Gerace was assigned to the 27th Combat Support Group's 27th Supply Squadron, Cannon AFB, N.M. After only 3 months under his management and supervision, the Supply Squadron's Computer Operation Section was first, command wide, to finish the all important end-of-year processing schedule, error free on Oct. 2, 1986. This was the first time Cannon AFB ever held that distinction. Because of this accomplishment he was selected as both the Supply Squadron and the Resource Management Senior NCO of the quarter, fourth quarter of 1986. Once again, his knowledge of computer processing formulas and management of the computer system led to accolade after accolade in so much that he was selected to augment the TAC Inspector General (IG) team to inspect all other TAC bases in computer operations. In addition, Gerace, as well as three other senior NCO's in TAC that had previous experience in both the UNIVAC 1050-II and UNISYS 1100/60, were personally selected by Brigadier General Johnson III, to write and implement a standard training guide for all RPS-II operators in TAC. For these accomplishments while stationed at Cannon, Gerace was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
On Dec. 1, 1990, Master Sgt. Samuel T. Gerace, 41, retired from the USAF after an award-filled career. But the challenges for him were hardly over when on Aug. 1, 1991, he accepted a position with Lockheed-Arabia to train Royal Saudi Force personnel in computer operations in the beautiful Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He stayed in Jeddah until June 1996, when he returned to Dunkirk.
Presently living in Westfield, he is currently working as a substitute bus driver for First Student in Fredonia. He is involved with local veteran affairs and is a life member of AmVets, 1st vice commander of AMVETSPost 409, president of the AMVET Riders Post 409 based in Gowanda and road captain for the Sons of Liberty Military Support Riding Club. He is a member of American Legion Post 59 in Fredonia, a social member of Sheridan VFW Memorial Post 6390 and a social member of the Lake Shore Marine Corps League Detachment 231, Silver Creek.
It was difficult to get Gerace to open up and share his story as he was constantly saying he didn't want to sound like he was bragging. In actuality, he was telling the story of a distinctive and award filled more than 21 year USAF career that very few people ever hear. We all hear of those that serve honorably and bravely on the front lines, but rarely do we hear of those that support those troops. He is every inch a proud American veteran that considered it an honor to serve his country. I found this story about the first mainframe computer he worked on interesting that it had only 32k of memory when most hand held devices we use now have much more. Or the story he told of the official USAF run "winter survival camps" in Goose Bay, Labrador that were only accessible by sea plane in the summer.
I wonder what the significance is that those camps were located on some of the most beautiful, rarely fished lakes and rivers in Labrador? That's a story I'll leave for Samuel Gerace to finish. Master Sgt. Samuel T. Gerace, USAF, retired - one of our hometown heroes.
-?Submitted by John Fedyszyn of Fredonia