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Why are we so passionate about our mission? Many of us have military experience or direct relationships with military personnel. Click the names below to read examples of what drives us to leverage our expertise to help the American war fighter.

Ray Melens

Ray joined the U.S. Marine Corp. back in 1968 as a cook/rifleman. Upon completion of initial training, he was sent to the 3rd Medical Battalion, H&S Co, 3rd Marine Div. in Quang Tri, Vietnam. He was assigned as a graveyard shift baker and his nickname soon became, “Baker.” He later was reassigned to patrol and guard duty where Ray severely injured his back due to the rugged terrain and was sent back to the states where he soon after was discharged from the Marine Corp.

Dylan Dennison

Dylan served from 2012 to 2016. He was stationed in San Diego, CA from July 2013 to September 2016 on the USS Sterett (DDG-104). Dylan’s rate and rank is Gunners Mate Second Class (Pay Grade: E-5). As a Gunners Mate, Dylan was personally in charge of inventory, maintenance, and issuing small arms on board of his ship. Dylan was also the lead technician for the MK38 Mod 2 25MM machine gun, and worked on both the ship’s 5 inch cannon and Vertical Launching systems. During that time, he was deployed to the Persian Gulf for 10 months from August 2014 to June 2015. In 2014, Dylan was conducting Special Joint VBSS Operations with the British Royal Navy. He was a recipient of 2 Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, and the GWOT-Expeditionary Medal.

V. Russell Henry

V. Russell Henry was a member of the 34th Infantry Division. He was drafted after the attack on Pearl Harbor, went for basic training, and was sent to England in the fall of 1942. The 34th was soon stationed in Tunisia, North Africa, with British forces under the command of Montgomery, facing the German Afrika Corps. Henry was part of the 138th Rifle Company that occupied a hill to the south of the Kasserine Pass. In battle, the German tanks advanced through the pass. The Americans were defeated and on February 14, 1943, Henry’s unit was surrounded. He was processed as a POW on February 17th and later transported to Italy, and then to Eastern Germany/Poland to Stalag IIB where he was assigned to a prison farm. In early 1945, the prisoners were marched westward under harsh conditions in response to the rapidly advancing Russians. In May, the prisoners were released and safely rejoined their comrades. Henry was reunited with his young wife.

Fergus Hegan

Fergus Hegan, an 18 year old Irish immigrant, joined the US Army in 1942 as a member of the 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Mechanized. A Technical Corporal of vehicle maintenance, he and his unit were sent to England in 1943 to prepare for the D-Day build up. On June 6th, 1944, Hegan’s unit boarded a ship in the English Channel, arriving at their destination two days later. He continued to experience the front-lines of war. His was the first American unit to reach Paris with the mission to clear out pockets of resistance and snipers. They were later involved on the northern flank of the Battle of the Bulge and held their ground against the Germans in December 1944. The 102nd fought their way into Czechoslovakia and to the town of Pilsen. To this day Pilsen has an annual celebration honoring the American forces that liberated them. Hegan married Irene, a radar specialist in the British Royal Air Force.Fergus Hegan is among the veterans honored in Optimax’s “Honoring our American Warfighters” ad. Hegan is standing in the cockpit of a German Stuka, JU-87g, an update of a d model dive bomber built in the late 1930’s. These planes were remodeled into anti-tank planes for use against the newer Soviet tanks being used on the Eastern front. The plane pictured was assigned to the Western front to use against the US tanks. Hegan’s unit captured the airfield after the German’s retreat.

Joseph Mandina

Joseph served as a grade Tec 4 in the Core of Engineers for water systems for the Army in 1946. He was stationed in Korea to engineer all the water systems that went into the camps. He was given a private plane and pilot to transport him throughout Korea. Some of the awards include the WWII Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal.

Frank Main

Frank was a career veteran in the Air Force. He was stationed in Niagara Falls for basic training and served in the Vietnam War from 1967-1968. After returning from Vietnam he was stationed in Wichita Kansas, Germany and Satellite Beach, FL until he retired after more than 20 years of service as a Master Sergeant. After retirement he worked as a civilian for the military on very special projects for high ranking military personnel, such as General Schwarzkopf.

Alejandro Mendoza

Alejandro was a member of the USAF from 1998 to 2006. He served as a Senior Airman and Aircrew Life Support Instructor for the first part of his career. After joining the ROTC program through the Rochester Institute of Technology he became a cadet wing commander responsible for 90 cadets. Upon graduation, he rose to 1st Lieutenant and was the Chief of Standardization and Evaluation with the 10th Space Warning Squadron. A few of his assignments include: Vandenberg Air Force Base, Cavalier Air Force Station, and Lackland Air Force Base. He was a recipient of numerous awards to include the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Professional Performer Award, and Crew Commander of the Year.

Collin Paran

Collin served in the U.S. Air Force from 2003 to 2009. During that time, he was deployed and served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Collin today is a data engineer for Optimax.

Gregg Plympton

A 3rd Inf Div pilot, Warrant Officer Gregg Plympton was killed in a helicopter crash. The OH-58C Kiowa scout helicopter he was flying struck a cable and crashed in a field. He was 26 years old, survived by his wife. Though his death was shocking, he died doing the job he loved. Laser-based surveillance technology that could have spared his life was being developed but had not yet reached the field.

Orin and Everett Pittenger

Brothers who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, Orin was stationed as a mechanic with the Harbor Defense Unit of the U.S. Army and Everett was a mechanic at Hickam Air Force Base. Orin was having breakfast when he heard aircraft flying overhead, assuming it was just maneuvers. Suddenly under attack, Orin and the men with him wanted guns and ammunition but weren’t issued rifles until the afternoon. They began preparing for the invasion, putting sandbags along the beaches. Planes chased them. A week after the attack, Orin went to his brother’s barracks and found it destroyed. It wasn’t until a week later that the brothers were reunited.

Everett was waiting for six B-17s to arrive from the States when he saw a group of planes approach Pearl Harbor. He saw a plane pull out of a dive and drop a bomb. A second bomb hit the Arizona, blowing it up in a huge blast. All the planes sitting outside the hangar were targeted. One was 17 paces from where Everett stood. Gunners were shooting at anything that moved. Everett was soon handed a gun and instructed to ride with an ambulance taking the wounded to Tripler General Hospital in Honolulu. Everett served his country for three more years before returning home to his family.

Jeremy Rathburn

Jeremy is a 1st Lieutenant for the 2-11 Field Artillery. He has led multiple patrols within Balad, Iraq to defend, train, and build relations with the Iraqi people. He was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for his efforts.

William F. Green

Bill served in the US Navy from 1965 to 1967 as an Aviation Jet Mechanic. He was originally stationed in Norfolk, Virginia assigned to Helicopter/Anti Submarine Squadron 5 aboard the USS Randolph then reassigned to Squadron 7 in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. In early 1967, he switched jobs to Photographers Mate because of his pre-Navy employment at Eastman Kodak Company. He was required to take pictures of damaged aircrafts, human casualties, Russian submarines, and shot the recovery of the Apollo 7 astronauts. Bill retired in 1969 at the Rank of Photographers Mate 3rd Class.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Spryn

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Spryn, Jr. was from Butler, PA. He had a long career in the military, serving first as an enlisted man with the rank of Staff Sergeant and then, as a field grade officer in the U.S. Air Force. He served in three wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. During the Cold War years of 1966-67. Major Spryn was the Deputy Commander for Security and Law Enforcement, and Commander of the 42nd Security Police Squadron at Loring Air Force Base, a huge Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-52 bomber base and Nuclear Weapons Storage Area, located near the town of Limestone, in northern Maine.

Sometime in the fall of 1967, Major Spryn left Loring for an assignment with the 632nd SPS at Binh Thuy Air Base, Vietnam. While there, he headed a project to provide food, clothing and other much needed support for approximately 200 children of a local Orphanage.

John Umber

John Umber, born in 1941, was a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division from 1962 to 1966. He belonged to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, which was also known as “The Mustangs”. Umber trained at Fort Bening, GA, and Fort Hood, TX, as a medic. He served in Seoul, Korea, at an Army hospital. John Umber passed away in January, 2006.

Homer Gauthier

Homer Gauthier, born in 1923, was a member of the U.S. Army’s 87th Infantry Division from 1942 to 1945. He belonged to the 34th Infantry Regiment, K Company, which was also known as “The Golden Acorn”. His training began in Camp McCain, MS, moved to Tennessee, and ended at Fort Jackson, SC. Gauthier was deployed to the European theater in 1944 were he saw combat in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. Gauthier was on the front in Belgium during The Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded by Nazi artillery in the Argon Forest in Germany, for which he received the Purple Heart. Gauthier also received the Good Conduct medal as well as theater and victory awards. He carried shrapnel in his leg until the day of his death on April 10, 2000.

Francis Gauthier

Francis Gauthier was a Second Class Fire Controlman for the U.S. Navy during World War II. He became part of the first crew aboard the Richard P. Leary. The Leary was credited with two torpedo hits on a Japanese warship that, at the time, was the largest ship in the world. The destroyer had engaged in supporting fire during battles in Guadalcanal, Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Palau, Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. For his service, Francis was awarded the Asia-Pacific Area Ribbon with six stars and the Japanese Liberation Ribbon with two stars for the invasion of the Surigao Strait.

Jeremy Sternisha

Jeremy enlisted in the Navy in 2002 after he graduated from high school. He served on Aircraft Carrier USS John F Kennedy from September 2003 until it was decommissioned in 2006 at Mayport Naval Base in Jacksonville, FL. During that time he was deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, serving on Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan from 2007 to 2009 at Coronado Naval Air Station in San Diego, CA. He ended his service in 2010. A few of the awards and commendations he received during his service include: The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 times), Navy Good Conduct Medal twice, and the National Defense Service Medal.

Robert Wright

Bobby served in the U.S. Army from 2004 to 2008 with the 82nd Airborne Division. During that time, he was deployed to Afghanistan from 2005-2006 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VI. He also spent time serving in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.

Optimax has a marketing strategy around the quick delivery of high-quality optical components. As one of America’s largest optics manufacturers, with more than 100 opticians, Optimax has the capacity and lean manufacturing know-how to support full rate production. If you have a program that might benefit from our expertise, please contact Optimax to arrange a factory tour and learn more about our capabilities.