SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. -- County Executive Ed Day presented the 2016 Buffalo Soldier Award to Spring Valley resident and former U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kenneth Mercer.
The Buffalo Soldier Award is presented annually to an outstanding African-American veteran who resides in Rockland County.
"Kenneth Mercer embodies the American spirit and dedication to service, which is clearly evident through his lifelong commitment to family, community, and our armed services," said Day.
"Awards like this are important because they allow us to recognize those who have served our nation at home and abroad, sacrificing to preserve our way of life. We thank Kenneth for his bravery and for his continued service to our residents," Day said.
Mercer, 67, joined the Marine Corps in 1966 and served until 1970, when he was honorably discharged. He fought in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive, serving in both Marine Corps divisions (first and third) with 1st Battalion 27th and 1st Battalion 9th (nicknamed "The Walking Dead" by Ho Chi Minh).
These two units were bestowed the Marine Corps' three highest combat awards: the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Unit Commendation and the Meritorious Unit Commendation. Mercer was among the first generation of African-Americans allowed to join the ranks of the Marine Corps.
Under the stewardship of Dr. Stella Marrs, he has served as an annual presenter during Black History Month events at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center in Spring Valley.
Mercer's work for the betterment of Rockland County has been nationally recognized; his life's work was read into the record of the 108th Congress of the United States.
At present, Mercer works with the Rockland Coalition to End the New Jim Crow.
Said Day, "Mr. Mercer works each day to advance civil and human rights in Rockland County. "
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