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Community honors servicemen and women
Matera named Veteran of the Year
4 Veteran of the Year pic
Don Brown, right, presented the 2014 Veteran of the Year award to Tommy Matera of Dawsonville at the ceremony. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

The community paid tribute to servicemen and women of all ages and from each branch of the military Tuesday during Dawsonville's Veterans Day celebration.

In its 10th year, the ceremonies began with a formal tribute to veterans at Dawson County Middle School. That was followed by a parade through downtown Dawsonville, one of just two places in Georgia designated as a 2014 Veterans Day Regional Site by the Veterans Day National Committee. The other is Atlanta.

Sponsored by the local veterans' affairs group, the annual ceremony pays tribute to veterans who continue their mantra of service in their communities.

Serving as emcee of the ceremony, Veterans Affairs of Dawson County President Don Brown presented the 2014 Veteran of the Year award to Tommy Matera of Dawsonville.

A U.S. Marine who enlisted at age 17, Matera was wounded on his third day in Vietnam, but immediately returned to active duty.

"It is now my pleasure to introduce a man who served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968," Brown said. "... His decorations include the Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Campaign Stars, among others."

After his military career, Matera served with the Atlanta Police Department for 24 years as a bomb and drug detection dog trainer, for which he received numerous awards.

Matera is a charter member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 970.

"He's a great guy. He'll bend over backward for any veteran," said Wayne Watkins, chapter president. "When someone needs help, he'll drop what he's doing to help them. That's just the kind of guy he is."