ALBANY – In Albany, Sen. Fred Akshar inducted Sgt. Paul “Rizzo” Russo into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
Each year, the New York State Senate honors veterans who have distinguished themselves in both their military and community service.
“Sgt. Paul Russo truly exemplifies a lifetime of service to fellow veterans in his community long after his active service has ended,” said Sen. Fred Akshar.
Russo first served in the United States Air Force from 1982 to 1986 as an Aircraft Armament Specialist at Bitburg AFB in Germany, and at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. He later served in the United States Army National Guard with deployments ranging from delivering ice storm relief in Malone, New York, to building schools and roads in Guatemala and Honduras.
As a civilian, Russo worked for 25 years at the New York State Department of Labor as a local veteran employment representative, with the mission of finding employment for veterans. In 2006, he received the Local Veterans Employment Representative of the Year Award through the New York State American Legion for his dedication to bettering the lives of the brave men who fought for our country.
Russo has been an active part of the Lt. Warren Eaton Post 189 in Norwich for the past 25 years in various positions including, Post Commander and Chenango County AL Commander. He is also a founding member of the Norwich American Legion Riders, serving as President for the past 12 years, growing the chapter from five Riders to more than 50 active Riders.
While in the Riders, Russo earned the nickname “Rizzo," and under Russo’s leadership, the Norwich Legion Riders have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured or wounded during their service in the Middle East.
“Veterans come off the battlefield and they don’t have anything,” said Mr. Russo. “We do this because they need the help, and we need to make a difference.”
The Riders have raised an average of $5,000/year for the past 10 years for the Landstuhl Project. Because of his commitment and enthusiasm, Russo was awarded the National American Legion Rider of Honor in 2015.
“I helped start the Riders because it was something new,” said Russo. “I have a passion for riding motorcycles and I wanted to be in an association that had a vision, a mission and a purpose.”
You can read more about Sgt. Paul Russo at Akshar.NYSenate.Gov.