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Thank You Veterans: Darlene Croston

For many current members of the military, the terrorist attacks of September 11th have been a catalyst for a career in service. Darlene Croston of Binghamton is one such sailor.
For many current members of the military, the terrorist attacks of September 11th have been a catalyst for a career in service. Darlene Croston of Binghamton is one such sailor. For her patriotism and dedication, NewsChannel 34 is pleased to honor her with a Thank You Veterans recognition ceremony.

Chief Yeoman Darlene Croston enlisted in the Navy Reserve in 2006. "I was 37. And I just decided that it wasn't enough what I was doing in my life. It was after 9/11. I chose to go to boot camp on the 5th anniversary of 9/11.

Croston was recalled to active duty in late 2010 and sent to Afghanistan. She was stationed in Kunar Province, five miles from the Pakistan border. "We were attacked regularly. Six of the men had Purple Hearts as a result. It was a daily reminder that we were not in a safe place."

Croston was an administrative officer for the provincial reconstruction team, helping the local government build roads, schools and orphanages. Here she is on foot patrol while engineers inspect school construction just an hour after a rocket propelled grenade fell in the area. Croston was in Afghanistan for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. "That was exceptionally meaningful, being right in the heart of Taliban country and having that 10th anniversary ceremony and remembering why we were all there."

Following a 16 month tour, including nine months in Afghanistan, Croston returned to Binghamton taking the position of Deputy County Clerk overseeing the local DMV. Her boss, Broome County Clerk Rick Blythe nominated her. "She lives a full life on behalf of our community. And it was an honor and a privilege to nominate her."

Congressman Richard Hanna honored her service with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. "You have served above and beyond, I imagine, most people's expectations. Thank you very much on behalf of your country and myself."

Al Eaton is President of the Southern Tier Veterans Support Group. "In the Navy, a Chief Petty Officer is a lofty position. Those of us that were in the military that were officers, rely on our Chief Petty Officers and our senior enlisted. And without them, we wouldn't be able to do the things that we do."

And Darlene received a special gift from the group Quilts of Valor. "Quilts of Valor are stitched with love and prayers and healing thoughts."

Darlene recently joined VFW Post 478 where we held our ceremony. Senior Vice Commander John Haddow expressed the organization's appreciation. "Not only to the service, but that she's made to this post since she was elected as our Quartermaster."

Darlene says she's honored to receive the recognition on behalf of herself and others. "We remember those that didn't come back. And even those that did come back and the war followed them." 

Blythe says such recognition is important. "When I returned from Vietnam, unlike many Vietnam veterans, I did have a parade. I was welcomed home by our local Post. And it's up to my generation of veterans to continue that and welcome home this generation."

For Darlene, she's proud of what her team accomplished in Afghanistan. "It was worth it. We had a real purpose to what we were doing, we could see the results. I never wavered, not once."
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