CAPITOL — A former principal at Schenectady High School was among three local veterans honored by the state Senate on Tuesday with induction into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.
Sullivan Alois of Schenectady is a twice-wounded U.S. Army special forces veteran of the Vietnam War, nominated by Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville.
“Sullivan Alois is a true American hero who served our country with honor and courage and then came home and inspired future generations of young people as a caring and dedicated educator and high school principal in Schenectady,” Tedisco said.
“The Vietnam War was not a popular conflict at the time and those that served did not get the parades, thanks and grateful recognition they deserved,” Tedisco said. “The heartfelt recognition for the service of all those who fought in Vietnam, like Sullivan Alois, is long overdue.”
Alois served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and was wounded in 1965 while fighting in the Dominican Republic revolution during Operation Power Pack, receiving his first Purple Heart. He served in Vietnam from February 1968 to February 1969, in an airborne brigade and later as a member of a Special Forces Advanced Operations and Techniques Training team.
As a Military Assistance Command Vietnam Mobile Advisory Team Leader, Alois was part of a special forces unit that lived with and trained a South Vietnamese rifle company, and he received his second Purple Heart during that time.
His awards included the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge, Air Medal for Valor, the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, New York State Cross for Conspicuous Service and Gallantry and the Vietnam Veterans’ Presidential Citation for Outstanding Community Service from President Jimmy Carter.
A lifelong resident of Schenectady, after the Vietnam War Alois returned home to a career as a science teacher in the Schenectady City School District, and served as a principal at Schenectady High School.
Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, nominated 1st Sergeant Robert Becker, a 1959 graduate of Niskayuna High School in who served in the Marine Corps from 1960-1966, and then in the Marine Reserves until his retirement in 1982. Since then, Becker, of Schenectady, has been an advocate for veterans, currently serving as executive legislative director for the state Council of Veterans Organizations. He is also a past national commandant and state commandant of the Marine Corps League.
“I was proud to recognize my good friend Bob Becker, not only for his distinguished service in the United States Marine Corps, but for his continued and passionate advocacy on veterans’ issues,” Amedore said. “Bob’s number one priority is improving the quality of life for our veterans.”
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was Keith J. Koster of Saratoga Springs, a 1980 Shenendehowa High School graduate, Koster served in the U.S. Navy from May 1982 to April 1988.
A three-time cancer survivor, Koster recently completed the Centennial Challenge — hiking and summiting all 46 high peaks in New York with the American Legion Flag — to celebrate the Legion’s 100th anniversary. In March 2019, the American Legion’s national magazine featured Koster on its cover in recognition of his accomplishment.
An American Legion paid-up-for-life member, Koster has served in various positions in the American Legion including district department vice commander.
“Keith Koster is an inspirational three-time cancer survivor who continues finding new challenges to conquer as he serves his fellow Capital Region veterans through his work and leadership in the American Legion,” Jordan said.
Each New York state senator is allowed to make an induction into the Veterans Hall of Fame each year.