A highlight of our OC Veterans Day Dinner is presenting our local awardees of the state’s Veterans of the Year honor. Veterans chosen for this honor had exemplary service during their military career, and they continue serving their communities with their jobs and volunteer services. Congratulations to Roderick Watson and Donald Owen Duff III, Veterans of the Year in 2021.

Here is a bit of information that tells you why these veterans were chosen.

Roderick Watson, E-7 Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy from 1979 through 1992;
Naval Reserve from 1992 through 2004

US Navy Chief Petty Officer Roderick Watson was awarded Veteran of the Year for the 68th Assembly District by Assemblyman Steven Choi.

Chief Petty Officer Watson has always been a gifted teacher, a skill he learned in the Navy. He now teaches his fellow veterans translate their skills learned in the military into civilian job skills. He has helped fellow veterans upgrade their employment and focus on career development.

Through his work with an organization called “Veterans and Youth Career Collaborative” he has been helping to certify veterans so that they qualify for project management positions. He also teaches and prepares veterans to be certified for OSHA 30. This is an outstanding contribution for the benefit of veterans.

Chief Petty Officer Watson continues to this day to serve us on the Post 227 Color Guard and Rifle Squad.

Donald Owen Duff III, Specialist in the United States Army from 1990 through 1993; Army Reserves from 1993 through 1996

United States Army Specialist Donald Owen Duff III was awarded Veteran of the Year for the Orange County 3rd District by Supervisor Donald Wagner.

Donald Owen Duff III enlisted in the United States Army in 1990, following his father, who served in Vietnam and grandfather, who served in World War II. After retirement from the Army he built his career in IT and in the last-mile courier industry.

Don began volunteering with Tustin AYSO in 2003 where he coached, refereed and was a board member.  He transitioned into coaching club soccer and at Tustin High School for four years until he was diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma.  In addition, he has been a volunteer with the City of Tustin Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) since 2014.  Volunteering with CERT includes working at community events and working police training events.

Since his medical retirement in 2021 he is grateful to be able to focus more energy with the Tustin Police Department, Tustin CERT, the American Legion, and helping Tustin’s veteran community.