By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — The sound of bagpipes offered a bittersweet reminder of a brave young woman who laid down her life for country and freedom.
The Seventh Annual Sgt. Devin Snyder Ride to Remember was held at the Wayland American Legion on June 1. The Sgt. Devin A. Snyder Memorial Foundation donated $17,500 total to three different causes. First, the Livingston County Mounted Patrol Unit received $5,000 going towards a new training arena being built in Mount Morris. Second, the K.I.A. Memorial Roadmarch received $2,500 to help with their veterans’ outreach. Third, the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department received $10,000 to help with K-9 Unit.
Sgt. Snyder was killed-in-action on June 4, 2011 in Afghanistan. Ever since that tragic day her family and friends have worked hard to keep her memory alive. This ride honors her legacy in every way.
Dineen Snyder, Devin’s mother, said it is always a bittersweet day for the family.
“This event always helps us. We want to get her name out there as many times as possible. She was important to us and was the sweetest person. My son, Damien surprised us today by being here,” she said. “He and his wife, Angel came all the way from Washington.”
Damien Snyder, Military Intelligence officer is stationed in Washington with his wife, Angel, Military Police officer, and two sons, Devin and Teaghan. He was closest to his big sister, Devin and followed her into the military.
“We met a couple months in Colorado after Devin was killed-in-action. We decided to get together after being stationed in Georgia. I know all about Devin’s story, and how much she means to Damien,” Angel Snyder said. “I feel like Devin has always been a part of my life. Whenever Baby Devin is sad, we will put him next to a photo of his Aunt Devin, and he will start smiling.”
Damien Snyder said his parents Ed and Dineen Snyder have warmed up to the idea of having a grandson named after their daughter.
“Growing up I was very close to Devin. I knew when I had a child, I wanted to name them after my sister. It was my wife’s idea to name our first child after Devin. We didn’t know if we were going to have anymore,” he said. “It is great to be here today for this. I am glad I was able to make it back home.”
There are three new Faces of the Fallen this year; WWII US Navy Cpt. Charles Bernard McAllister of Hornell, Vietnam War Sp4 Russell C. Mann of Cohocton, and Civil War Pvt. Edwin “Edmund” Ackley of Springwater.
“It is a wonderful event that we love doing every year. It brings out all the community support. There is always a lot of work that goes into it. The Wayland-Cohocton school helps out a lot. The softball, soccer, and track teams help out every year. We always have a lot of teachers and staff help out,” Post Commander Kevin Mark said. “We have three new Faces of the Fallen this year. We are working on getting a lot more. These ones had family come out just for this. The Mann and McAllister families were here. This is for people in the local areas that have died in combat. We find their stories, photos, awards and medals for the Faces of the Fallen.”
Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said he was honored to be part of the memorial event today to honor a fallen hero.
“They invited us down here to be part of this event. We are honored to be here. When we are done here, we will be loading the horses up and taking them back to Geneseo. We are going to be in the Nunda Parade as well,” he said. “They told us they would donate money to the Mounted Patrol, so we wanted to bring the horses down to show them.”
John Morgan, Mounted Patrol Unit Commander said these donations go to help with things they wouldn’t normally be able to get.
“We are working on getting a new arena built in Mount Morris. The county bought a new plot for K-9 training, range, and horse training,” he said. “We hope to get started on that new arena in the summer. There will be a section used for horse training, where we do a lot of sensory training with them. We own our own horses and keep them at our farms. We have been using Hemlock Fairgrounds for training, and they have been really great to work with.”
SGM Jason Jaskula started K.I.A Memorial Roadmarch to honor a Battle Buddy named Staff Sgt. Christopher Dill who was killed-in-action on April 4, 2005 in Iraq. On Nov. 23, 2012 Jaskula held the first K.I.A. Memorial Roadmarch for his fallen friend. He walked a 22K carrying 60 pounds of Memorial Rocks. It took him three hours and 20 minutes. He raised $4,000.
Money raised from the Sgt. Devin A. Snyder Memorial Foundation will go to help with the KMR Gold Star Mother’s Pantry and local community veterans’ groups in need.
Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard talked about the K-9 Unit. Specifically, he talked about K-9 Devin and K-9 Twiggy.
“This year we had some hard truths to face with K-9 Devin. We found out Devin had contracted a nerve disease in his spin, and we had to retire him. Poor Deputy (Tom) Nybeck had felt like he lost a partner. You don’t understand what it is like when you have a K-9 riding in back with you. It is a bond you can not describe. We went and saw the folks from the foundation when we knew K-9 Devin would no longer be able to continue. They immediately jumped up to get us another K-9,” he said. “They went up to Rochester with Sgt. (Shawn) Shutt and Deputy Nybeck and picked out Twiggy. Twiggy is now halfway through his certification process.”
Allard offered some kind words about K-9 Devin and all the ways he touched the department. He loved fast food, the art of escape, and getting into shenanigans.
Crystal City Pipes and Drums out of Corning played the Bagpipes for The Seventh Annual Sgt. Devin Snyder Ride to Remember. The ride went on with great success at noon with the American Flag held high over N. Main Street.