ELMSFORD, NY, MOUNT VERNON, NY, and YONKERS, NY — May 24, 2019 — Over Memorial Day weekend, one hopes the nation remembers and honors those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom. Earlier this month, a local union made it a point to pay homage to a veteran and union member, while he is still around to enjoy the honor and the liberty he protects.
On Monday, May 13, Ivan Arroyo, who serves in the 101st Signal Battalion, an Army National Guard Unit stationed in Yonkers, was taken by complete surprise when Teamsters Local 456 presented him with a proclamation, and unveiled his newly overhauled motorcycle at the local’s general membership meeting.
Arroyo has served in the National Guard for twenty years. Over the course of his service, he has been deployed to hot spots such as Afghanistan and Kuwait. He lives in Yonkers with his wife, Carolyn, and their family, and has worked in Yonkers at the Municipal Housing Authority (MHA), for a decade.
Arroyo’s loyalty to his community and the nation inspired his fellow Teamsters at the MHA to devise a plan to commemorate all he has sacrificed. The idea began to take shape nearly a year ago, when Arroyo’s co-workers were charged with finding a place to store his cherished motorcycle, while he was deployed with his National Guard Unit.
Co-workers Lenny Dipanifilo, Christopher Millo, and Daren Williams, brought the bike to a garage in Yonkers, which belongs to Michael Oligarchik. Oligarchik, who is a Yonkers Police Officer, is one of Millo’s brothers-in-law. Mike O. is an accomplished mechanic, so the trio asked him to tune up the motorcycle while it was in his possession. The tune-up evolved into Oligarchik dismantling the bike, in order to clean it up and detail the chrome.
One thing led to another, and the idea of a paint job floated across the Teamster trio’s bow. Michael Capone, the owner of A-1 Auto Body in Mount Vernon, generously offered to do the bodywork and paint the bike at no charge. Capone was not only inspired by Arroyo’s patriotism and service, but also because Capone’s mother had been an employee at Local 456’s union office for over thirty years.
An employee of A-1 Auto Body quickly took notice of the “100% Sangre Boricua” decal on the bike’s rear fender. Being of the same heritage, the employee felt matching the red of Puerto Rico’s flag would be an appropriate choice for the bike’s new finish. After the paint job, the motorcycle made its way back to Millo’s uncle’s garage. There, the bike was reassembled and sent out for new rubber.
Finally, the bike was partnered with a new riding vest, which Millo’s uncle, Marc Lenci, had designed to emulate a military battle dress uniform (BDU). The vest was embroidered with Arroyo’s name, US Army and Veteran, and was decorated with patches from the Sergeant’s Unit, the Teamsters, as well as the flags of the United States and Puerto Rico.
The entire plan came together when arrangements were made through Louis A. Picani, to surprise Arroyo at the Local’s general membership meeting, by presenting him with his motorcycle and riding vest. Picani is the President of Teamsters Local 456, and Vice-President of the AFL-CIO Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body.
On the evening of the thirteenth, Arroyo was caught off guard, as he was first honored with a proclamation from Picani and the entire Executive Board of the Local, and was then presented with his overhauled motorcycle and new riding vest by his co-workers, family, and others, who had participated in the project.