Pontiac, Michigan -- Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson honored three American heroes on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 at his 21st annual Quality People/Quality County (Q2) Awards breakfast. The Q2 awards recognize the significant achievements of residents who enhance the quality of life of others.
This year's recipients are Lt. Col. Harry Stewart, Jr., a legendary Tuskegee airman and retired executive from Bloomfield Hills; Franklin-Bingham Farms Fire Chief Tony Averbuch; and Vietnam veteran and Rochester Hills realtor Vito Pampalona.
"Our veterans and first responders have risked their lives so we can enjoy our freedoms," Patterson said. "The Q2 awards are a small way to express deep gratitude to three outstanding individuals who have served their nation."
Lt. Col. Harry Stewart, Jr. is a legendary Tuskegee Airman who inspires disadvantaged children to achieve their dreams. He flies youngsters in a Schweizer motor glider under the "Young Eagles" program. He opens their eyes to possibilities with his personal story of achievement. After a distinguished Air Force career, he rose to vice president of ANR Pipeline Company.
Chief Tony Averbuch, Franklin-Bingham Farms Fire Chief since 1999, is the team commander for Michigan’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team. Averbuch and DMAT were deployed to the World Trade Center site from late September to mid-October 2001, relieving the initial wave of first responders. Averbuch often describes the experience as the worst thing he’s seen; but through the worst, he says he saw the best of America - a nation coming together, unrelenting first responders, and teamwork.
Vito Pampalona is a Vietnam War veteran who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which provides support to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. Known as “Uncle Vito,” he ensures that recovering soldiers have an improved quality of life with comfortable workout clothes, healthy snacks, good movies, books, and gifts at Christmas. Pampalona raises money every year with his annual Yellow Ribbon Fund Golf Outing in Rochester.
Patterson started the Q2 breakfast with a patriotic ceremony. Five members of the Oakland County Veterans Group Color Guard marched in with U.S., Michigan and Oakland County flags flanked by two ceremonial riflemen to place the colors on display. Pontiac-based singing group Men of Grace sang the national anthem. Plus, Pastor Kent Clarke of Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac gave the invocation and a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11. Lt. Col. Donald “Digger" O'Dell, a renowned Vietnam prisoner of war who served five years in the “Hanoi Hilton,” introduced Patterson.
Centerpoint Marriott in Pontiac hosted the breakfast.
For media inquiries only, please contact Bill Mullan, Oakland County media and communications officer, at 248-858-1048.