Rockland County resident recognized with Buffalo Soldier award

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Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Nurse received the Buffalo Soldier award for his role as an African American veteran.

The county’s fire training center served as the venue for the ceremony today in Pomona.

Rockland County is one of the municipalities across the country to honor Buffalo Soldiers with an annual accolade.

Since 1993, the prestigious award has been given to African American veterans who reside in the county and continually give back to their community.

Nurse, a Spring Valley resident, assisted in installing the state’s first memorial to Gulf War veterans in Haverstraw. He also serves as the commander of a local American Legion post and has mentored other veterans for years.

Along with these accomplishments, the Buffalo Soldier award recipient served for 30 years and received many other awards, such as a Bronze Star medal and NATO medals.

However, Nurse believes the Buffalo Soldier honor means the most. “Even an award given by our government, something in gold, doesn't mean as much as this simple award,” he says.

According to, the term Buffalo Soldier was a nickname given to African American soldiers by Native Americans. Buffalo Soldiers mainly served on the Western frontier following the American Civil War.

A lot of the veterans dealt with racial prejudice and unequal treatment, all which continues to persist in today's military.

“Many people don't understand what the purpose is behind an award like this. To me, it is everything, everything,” says Nurse. "It is such an honor to be part of this team that has gotten this prestigious American award. Buffalo Soldiers actually paved the way for us.”

News 12 is told the county distributed the award today Tuesday rather than Wednesday on its Buffalo Soldiers Day due to local government offices being closed for Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

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