Although Veterans Day has passed, The BP Group will never stop honoring the veterans that we have working with us today. We’re truly grateful for all of our veterans, especially the ones we’re lucky enough to know personally. Lee Feigenbaum, Keith Calderone, Jose Hernandez, and Joe Barbera are true heroes and deserve to have their stories told.
Lee Feigenbaum is a United States Army veteran with 10 years of leadership and combat experience.
His most recent assignment had Lee commanding a company of 127 soldiers in the 2nd Infantry Division out of Ft. Carson, Colorado. Feigenbaum’s unit, “Manchu” Battalion, was deployed to Ramadi. Time’s Magazine referred to Ramadi as “the most dangerous place in Iraq” from 2006 to 2008. During this 15 month combat deployment, his unit fired the first shots of the “Anbar Awakening” and bested the enemy in an area that had been dismissed as “unwinnable.” The Manchus remain proud to have brought freedom to the Iraqi people.
During his prior military experience, Feigenbaum served in a variety of roles in support combat operations through multiple deployments. In his 39 months of combat, he was able to witness almost every milestone in the development of a free Iraq. This includes, the border breach and invasion with 3rd Infantry Division, Support and Stability Operations with 1st Armored Division and the 18th Airborne Corps, the first free elections, capturing Saddam Hussein, and the formation of Iraqi Military and Police Units.
Feigenbaum achieved the rank of “Captain” while on active duty. His military awards include the Army Parachutist Badge, the Combat Action Badge, and the Bronze Star Medal.
Keith Calderone joined the Army to honor his freedom and become a part of something bigger. Calderone said, “I used to be a wild child and a bit of a trouble maker in my younger years, I needed a change in my life.” He knew that the Army would help him acquire discipline, integrity and maturity.
Not only did being in the Army provide him with the new experiences he longed for, he returned with a great deal of skills that only a position like this could provide. He returned with knowledge on security, which includes how to secure sensitive information, pull physical security and how to search, detain and restrain insurgents and prisoners. He also learned logistics, involving inventory, organization, equipment research, project planning, stock control, and creating countless informational catalogs. His other skills include counter terrorism, dispatching and satellite programming and blasting. Blasting is the transmitting of mass data to another satellite instantly.
Calderone’s time in the Army has left him with memories that will last him a long time, such as the way the sky looked at night. He described it as “painted with stars and planets.” He explained how beautiful it looks with no air pollution to be seen, especially with the night vision goggles. While Calderone expressed war is not fun, he learned a lot about himself and some other interesting facts along the way. He learned that bread is made with feet and not hands, and that the Polish army has supermodels for female soldiers.
Jose Hernandez was enlisted in the United States Army from 1983-1986 doing bookkeeping and logistics. Hernandez did basic training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky and advance training at Ft. Lee, Virginia.
Hernandez’s first permanent duty was in Karlsruhe and Grafenwohr Germany in the 79th Engineer Battalion. He was a member of the Color Guard and Bomb Squad, as well as a coach and player of the unit volleyball team and captain of the softball team. During his first permanent duty, he received the Army Commendation Medal. His second permanent duty was in Ft. Bliss, Texas. Here, he was part of the missiles unit at the New Mexico border. He continued with his love for sports by being a player and coach on the basketball team.
In 1986, he joined the Army Reserve for bookkeeping and logistics until 1990. He was at Ft. Buchanan, Puerto Rico in the 597th Battalion. He also gave support on Blue Grass Kentucky, bombs logistics and Army Depot logistics in Tobyhanna Pennsylvania.
Joe Barbera reported to Ft. Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn, NY on August 3, 1969. Saying goodbye to his father, mother and grandfather was not easy. There was a lot going on at that time in America – the Vietnam War, the Cold War, racial tension, and the peace movement, which in Barbera’s opinion “prolonged the war in Vietnam and caused more men to lose their lives.”
From Ft. Hamilton, Barbera went to Ft. Jackson in South Carolina where he was inducted into the United States Army, receiving uniforms, haircuts and inoculations. From there, he went to Ft. Gordon, Georgia for five to six months. Ft. Gordon is where Barbera did basic training and went to radio signal school. He enjoyed training out in the field learning how to shoot a rifle, the art of hand-to-hand combat and handling explosives. His father said “don’t volunteer for anything,” so he volunteered for the airborne division.
Barbera did his airborne training with Marines, Navy Seals and Special Forces at Ft. Benning in Georgia for four weeks. The first free fall was from a 250 ft. tower. He received his airborne wings and received orders to report to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was a member of the 82nd Signal Corps setting up communications. Barbera made jumps from various types of planes, including C 119 planes, C 130’s Hercules and C 141’s.
Barbera experienced being placed on alert twice for disturbances in the Middle East. They were America’s Guard of Honor ready to go anywhere to protect our interests. “The only place I wanted to go was home,” Barbera said. He stayed state-side for the 2 years he was in the 82nd, but was always prepared to move out. Not everyone was as fortunate as he was to remain on state-side. “It is the soldier, the Marine, the sailor, the airmen who gave us our freedom,” Barbera said. He was honorably discharged on August 3, 1971 and will always be proud of his service to the country.
The BP Group is proud to have these skilled, courageous and honorable veterans on our team. We are thankful everyday for those who serve and have served our country and even more thankful that some of them work alongside us today.