When was the last time someone from Penn Yan stood on the baseball diamond at Yankee Stadium during a game? If you said April 17, 2018, you would be correct.
Dylan Duncan may not live here anymore, but when he was invited to be the honored veteran at Yankee Stadium last week, he didn’t hesitate to list Penn Yan as his hometown.
Duncan says he chose to have his hometown announced as Penn Yan because he wanted to see the community recognized for something positive.
“I had a good life there (in Penn Yan), explains Duncan, a member of the Penn Yan Academy class of 2005 who left Yates County to join the Army with the famed 101st Airborne Division, known as the Screaming Eagles.
While deployed, the 101st 3rd Brigade Rakkasans were involved in multiple firefights. In June of 2010 they entered into a three-hour engagement along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. During the battle, they took on heavy fire and an explosion from an enemy RPG hit a tree in close proximity to Duncan and another member from his Platoon. Shrapnel entered Duncan’s arm and hand and critically injured his friend. He ignored his wounds and took to immediate care of his fellow Eagle. Duncan and his unit were able to med-evac his injured friend, saving his life. Because of his heroic actions, Duncan was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with the Valor Device. This is the fourth highest military decoration for valor and is cited for heroism in combat. He also received the Purple Heart for being wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of an enemy.
His girlfriend, Liz Boylin, who accompanied him to the game along with Duncan’s brother, Dakota Dennison and Liz’s father, Tim Boylin, submitted his name to a program last year through the Combat Wounded Veterans of America and the New York Yankees. He knew he had been accepted for the honor, but the appearance couldn’t be scheduled until this season.
As the Hometown Hero, Duncan’s party was given valet parking, four seats, merchandise, access to the Audi Sky Club, and a special commemorative Yankees coin. “They treated me like a king,” he says.
The Yankees were down 0-7 to the Marlins by the time the escort arrived to guide them onto the field for recognition during the seventh inning stretch, but Duncan, a life-long Yankees fan wasn’t about to leave the stadium before the final out. “For them to do all that for me was awesome, so I didn’t want to leave. Staying was the least I could do,” he explains, adding, “It was just wonderful — a class act.”
The group, who had driven to the city earlier in the day, spent the night at a hotel in New Jersey before heading home, back to the realities of work,
For Duncan, that meant returning to his job at White Haven Memorial Park in Pittsford, where part of his job is paying tribute to deceased veterans as he helps to ease them into their final resting place.
He has been employed there since attending Monroe Community College thanks to the Army GI bill. JudieLynn Nassar McAvinney, vice president and general manager at White Haven says Duncan “has become a valued member of yet another group of very dedicated individuals. At White Haven, we are very proud of our tribute to veterans.”
She says the park has developed several cemetery sections dedicated in honor of veterans. Two special sections include the Korean war monument and the newest monument dedicated to Gold Star Families.
“It is truly an honor to have Dylan on our team and we thank him and all our veterans for their selfless contributions to our nation,” she adds.