A Gilroy local is among four former service members hand-picked by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) to receive the 2012 Veteran of the Year Award.
The group of honored veterans includes Gilroyan David Bautista, along with three other veterans from San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties that comprise the 28th Assembly District. The four were recognized for their valor in service to their country and respective communities.
Staff Sgt. David Bautista served in the U.S. Air Force for four years beginning in 2002, according to a press release. Bautista served two tours in Iraq, where he earned the Outstanding Unit Award for Valor, the Humanitarian Medal, the Iraq War on Terrorism Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Bautista also served in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, working to rescue families from disaster. He currently serves as a member of the National Guard.
Outside of his military service, Bautista has served on California’s Drug Task Force where he helped collect and destroy thousands of drugs before they made it to the streets. He also volunteers to work with local teens, serving as a coach and mentor.
“Our veterans risk their lives to protect American values and our freedoms,” Alejo said. “On Veterans Day, we honor their service to our great country. In particular, Lt. Col. Claudia Ward of Monterey County, Maj. Nazhat Parveen Sharma of San Benito County, Staff Sgt. David Bautista of Santa Clara County and Lt. Col. Harry Wiggins of Santa Cruz County are being recognized … as our Veterans of the Year.”