Brian Kennedy, a retired Marine colonel, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and a member of the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor, gives the keynote address at Youngstown State University’s Veterans and ROTC Alumni Reunion Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14 and 15.
Flor “Shorty” Navarro, a former U.S. Marine and local businessman and philanthropist, will receive the Cincinnatus Award. Navarro is the owner of Stadium Chevrolet in Salem, Ohio. He and his wife, Elba, have made several donations to YSU, most recently a $1 million gift to fund scholarships and increase the number of campus jobs available to students.
Reunion events include at dinner 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in the atrium of Williamson Hall on the YSU campus. The cost is $40 for non-students and $20 for students. There also will be an alumni reunion picnic 5 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Veterans Resource Center on Wick Avenue. The cost is $10. YSU takes on Northern Iowa in Stambaugh Stadium at 7 p.m. A block of tickets ($10 per ticket) will be reserved for veterans and ROTC Alumni.
Kennedy was born and raised in Poland Township, graduating from Poland Seminary High School in 1984 and selected in 2006 as a PSHS Distinguished Alumni. He attended Ohio State University and graduated in 1989 with a degree in Civil Engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in June 1989.
He served as a Marine AH-1W cobra gunship helicopter pilot and served throughout the world based aboard ship and ashore in locations including North Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Haiti and Cuba, as well as numerous locations in the United States. Most recently, he served in the Western Pacific, including Japan, Korea, Thailand and Australia with the Third Marine Division.
Kennedy served two flying tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005, where he provided close air support to US Marines and soldiers as well as British Marines and soldiers, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with combat distinguishing device for Valor. Overall, he flew more than 220 combat missions. He was inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor in April 2016. He is a former Marine Light Attack Helicopter squadron commander and holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the US Army War College and completed a leadership certificate program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2015. He achieved the rank of Colonel before retiring in October 2014 after completing 25 years of uniformed service.
He is the Executive Director for Turning Point Counseling Services in Mahoning County and serves on the Board of Directors for the Columbiana County Port Authority in East Liverpool, as well as the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee for the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association. He is a licensed professional boxing judge, a 32nd degree Mason in Youngstown, a member of the Youngstown Shrine Club, a member of Perry Lodge in Salem, Ohio, a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, the Disabled American Veterans and the Columbiana County Farm Bureau. He volunteers as a mentor in the Youngstown Municipal and Mahoning County Common Pleas Veterans Treatment Court programs and sits on the Board of Directors for AMVETS National Service Foundation – Charities.
He has four daughters Caitlin, Gracie, Molly and Maggie and is married to Heather Godfrey, formerly of Johnstown Pa., and resides in Salem, Ohio.