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Maj. Louis Fabrizi (left) and Staff Sgt. Brian Brandmeir (right) stand at the foot of the Major Octavius V. Catto Memorial after a wreath laying ceremony on Feb. 22, 2020 honoring the Civil War-era militia officer and African-American civil rights leader from Philadelphia. Both men were awarded The Major Octavius V. Catto Medal, which is bestowed upon guardsmen and women who display qualities of selfless service in the military and local community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Wil Acosta)
| Feb. 25, 2020
Pa. National Guard Soldiers awarded Octavius V. Catto Medal
By Brad Rhen
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. –
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – The Pennsylvania National Guard awarded its Maj. Octavius V. Catto Medal to two Soldiers Saturday at the Union League of Philadelphia.
This year’s recipients were Maj. Louis Fabrizi of the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site and Staff Sgt. Bryan Brandmeir of the 213th Regional Support Group.
The Catto Medal recognizes members of the Pennsylvania National Guard who distinguish themselves as leaders through community support and public service.
“By issuing the Catto Medal to Soldiers and Airmen who follow the example of excellent military and community service set by Major Catto, we are doing our part to keep the memory of this important American alive and relevant,” said Brig. Gen. Dave Wood, director of the joint staff for the Pennsylvania National Guard. “The Guard members to whom we award the Catto Medal are proof that the civic leadership and selfless service he demonstrated are as alive as ever in our communities, and across the Commonwealth.
Fabrizi, 38, is a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot and works full-time as EAATS’s Utility Training Battalion’s executive officer at Fort Indiantown Gap.
He is an active member to the Pennsylvania National Guard Association, the U.S. Senator Pat Toomey Academy selection board, Players Using Competition Helping Others Grow, and several Central Pennsylvania local music and performing arts initiatives.
"It's an honor to be awarded the Major Octavius Catto Medal,” Fabrizi said. “I would like to thank my family, my chain of command at EAATS and also the board members of the Pennsylvania National Guard Associations for their support.”
A native of Murrysville, Pa., Fabrizi currently resides in Hershey, Pa. He is a 1999 graduate of Kiski Area High School in Vandergrift, Pa.
Fabrizi has a master’s degree in leadership and professional advancement from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Brandmeir, 35, is a religious affairs NCO and works full-time as the S3 operations non-commissioned officer at the 213th RSG’s headquarters in Allentown.
He helped raise over $500,000 toward the construction of a Veterans Memorial in his hometown of Whitehall, Pa.; he volunteers several times a year to speak to students from his alma mater, Whitehall-Coplay School District, about his experience in the military; he assisted a Boy Scout on his Eagle Scout project which was to build a Ceremonial Flag burning pit; and for the past several years coordinated and supported a Veterans Day program assembly at an elementary school across the street from the Allentown Armory.
“I am extremely grateful and honored to be chosen as an awardee for the Major Octavius Catto Award,” Brandmeir said. “Major Octavius Catto was an individual who put others before himself to make a positive impact in Pennsylvania. To be recognized with an award bearing his name while doing work that I really enjoy is both humbling and satisfying. I believe through volunteerism and education everyone can make a brighter future for all of mankind while continuing to honor Major Catto’s legacy”
A native of Whitehall, Pa., Brandmeir currently resides in Walnutport, Pa. He is a 2003 graduate of Whitehall-Coplay High School.
Brandmeir has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from the University of Phoenix in Arizona. He is currently taking courses toward a master’s degree in criminal justice at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pa.
Catto was a Civil War-era Pennsylvania militia officer who was killed in Philadelphia in 1871 while on duty defending African-Americans at polling places by those who opposed their right to vote. He was a professor at the Institute for Colored Youth, now Cheyney University, and a community leader who led desegregation efforts in Philadelphia in the 1860s.
The medal was originally created in the 1880s, but there are no records that show it was ever awarded before it disappeared. It was approved for re-introduction into the commonwealth's military decorations system in December 2011 and first awarded in 2012.
“Major Fabrizi and Staff Sgt. Brandmeir have distinguished themselves through their military and civic leadership,” Wood said. “Their commitment to public service exemplifies the values displayed by Major Catto, who risked his life in the defense of his country and ultimately gave his life to see African Americans be able to exercise their right to vote."