Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) honored Air Force veteran Eugene Cota as Veteran of the Year for the 16th Assembly District in a ceremony at the Museum on Main in downtown Pleasanton last week.
"Having served 18 years in the United States Air Force, and many more as a member of local veterans service organizations, Eugene has demonstrated a lifetime of selfless service, courage and patriotic devotion to our country," said Baker, whose district includes Pleasanton. "It is a great honor to recognize Eugene as Veteran of the Year for Assembly District 16."
Throughout his 18 years in the Air Force, Cota served all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Germany, Vietnam, and at Air Force bases in California and Georgia.
He met his wife while stationed at Camp Parks in Dublin. The two married and started a family in Germany in the years when America and its European allies feared a massive invasion from the Soviet Union.
After a four-year tour in Germany, Cota and his family returned to California where he was stationed for duty at what is now Vandenberg Air Force Base. While stationed at this base in Santa Barbara County, he was present for early launches of liquid fueled missiles, such as the Atlas and Titan, and served with the Strategic Air Command during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cota is currently involved in many veterans service organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Korean War Veterans Association, Vietnam Veterans of America, Air Force Sergeant Association, Air Force Association, VFW Mexican Ancestry Association, USA Association, VNVDV and the Alameda County Veterans Commission.
Baker added, "The freedoms we enjoy today were secured, and are every day safeguarded, by our nation's heroes such as Eugene. Eugene's service in the U.S. Armed Forces and his steadfast support for his fellow veterans has made him more than worthy of this honor."