Gathering Jan. 4 to honor the late Gerald J. ‘Bucket”’McNeill for his service to Warren County and the nation, are (front row, left to right): fellow veteran Tom Butler of North Creek, McNeill’s wife Linda McNeill, his son Gerry McNeill Jr., (rear): Warrensburg High School Principal Doug Duell, WCS Superintendent of Schools Tim Lawson, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Stec, state Senate aide Dan MacEntee, Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, and George Christian, aide to U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson. The McNeill family was presented with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol (front, center) to memorialize Gerald McNeill’s service to the nation.
Bearing flags and solemn expressions, veterans in formal dress stood at attention while county and state officials recounted the military and community service of the late Gerald J. “Bucket” McNeill, a noted citizen of the Warrensburg community for decades.
The ceremony was held Monday June 4 in the Warren County Municipal Center.
From 1951 through 1955, McNeill served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Hale during the Korean War.
After his service in the Navy, McNeill worked as a supervisor at International Paper Co. for more than 40 years until his retirement.
Committed to bring recognition to those who served their nation, McNeill was instrumental in founding the Fred Flynn Memorial Park in Warrensburg.
He was responsible along with other members of the local American Legion for planning the gazebo, flagpole, fountain and raised garden in the park, which is now a popular place for residents and tourists to visit and enjoy beside the Hudson River.
During the June 5 ceremony, McNeill — who hadn’t graduated from high school — was posthumously awarded a diploma from Warrensburg High School. Superintendent of Schools Tim Lawson and High School Principal Doug Duell made the presentation — the first-ever award of its type in recent history.
During the ceremony, Warrensburg Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty noted he had worked with McNeill for 32 years at the International Paper plant in Corinth.
“Bucket was a dear friend, he had a great sense of humor, and everyone from here to Lake Desolation know him,” Geraghty said. “He loved his country, he accomplished a lot for Warrensburg, and he was dedicated in his service to our nation.”
During the ceremony, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Stec gave the McNeill family members a proclamation declaring June 4 as Gerald McNeill Day in his honor.
Dan MacEntee, aide to state Sen. Betty Little, declared that McNeill was recipient of the New York State Liberty Award, the state’s highest honor.
“This is for his exceptional valor and dedication,” MacEntee said.
Also paying tribute to McNeill was George Christian, aide to U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson. He presented the McNeill family with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Stec said that having worked in a ship’s engine room as McNeill did, he knew how blistering hot the work could be.
“He gave far more than he took from both his nation and his hometown community,” Stec said.
Warren County Veterans Services Director Denise DiResta said she had observed McNeill’s character during his many visits to the county Municipal Center and trips to the area VA hospital.
“He was a quiet, kind, and had a great sense of humor,” she said “Also, he was so courteous to the other veterans.”
McNeill’s military awards include the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the United Nations Service Medal and the Korean and China service medals.
Active in his community, McNeill was a long-time member of the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Co., and was a 46-year member of the Warrensburgh Masonic Lodge, of which he served as Master. He also was a member of several area branches of the Royal Arch Masons.
The recognition of McNeill's service to his country and community was the latest of dozens of “Honor a Deceased Veteran” ceremonies held in Warren County since the program started in 2002.