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Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris honors three distinguished Orange County veterans

For immediate release:

Irvine, CA – In honor of Veterans Day, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris hosted the fifth annual Veterans of the Year ceremony at Irvine Valley College, recognizing three veterans for their outstanding military service and contributions to fellow veterans and the community.

“It was truly an honor to recognize each of these incredible veterans, men and women, who have sacrificed so much in service of our nation,” said Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine). “We owe a profound debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who have answered the call of a nation to serve in the United States Armed Forces and fought for our freedom and democracy.”

This year’s ceremony was held at the Irvine Valley College Performing Arts Center and included dignitaries and guests from the Orange County Board of Supervisors, City of Costa Mesa, City of Irvine, City of Tustin, South Orange County Community College District, Irvine Valley College, veterans service organizations and nonprofit organizations in the 73rd Assembly District.

AD73 cottie petrie norris veteran of the year photo

2023 Veterans of the Year honorees:

Christopher McGuire, U.S. Marine Corps – Costa Mesa

AD73 cottie petrie norris veteran of the year christopher mcguireChris spent his youth in nature, riding his bike, skateboarding, snowboarding, and SCUBA diving in Lake Tahoe. The nature that always surrounded him instilled a passion to protect the environment from an early age. He joined the Marine Corps in 2004, and spent time at Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Spanning a nine-year career, obtaining the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6), he was committed to the successful training and flight operations of the MV-22b Osprey aircraft. He deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan and spent time performing pirate interdiction off Somalia. He received his Bachelor of Science in Earth System Science in 2018 from UC Irvine, and his doctoral degree in 2023. After witnessing the amount of plastic in his ocean samples, he wanted to make a difference in his local community by providing a means to reducing grocery packaging. He was inspired to open Orange County's only plastic-free grocery store in Costa Mesa, Amis de la Terre Zero-Waste Market, with his wife and fellow PhD student. Chris continues to serve his community, and wants to create positive change by reducing plastic waste and investigating the drivers of pollution.


Jameeka Green Aaron, U.S. Navy – Irvine

AD73 cottie petrie norris veteran of the year jameeka green aaronJameeka Green Aaron is a recognized industry leader with a career that has spanned a wide variety of industries in both information technology and cyber security, including aerospace and defense, retail, and manufacturing. Jameeka is a nine-year veteran of the United States Navy, having served as Information Technology Specialist, Information Systems Security Manager. Jameeka is currently the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Okta. She has led Fortune 100 and privately held companies. Prior to her current role, Jameeka led digital transformation as the CIO of West Coast Operations at United Legwear and Apparel / Hurley. Her 20+ years of experience includes: Director of North American Technology, Director of Secure Code, and Director Identity and Access Management at Nike. She also served as Chief of Staff to the CIO of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. Jameeka is committed to advancing women and people of color in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. She is an alumni of the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program and served on the executive board of the National Urban League Young Professionals and the National Society of Black Engineers. An alumna of University of Massachusetts, she holds various certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). She is an advisor for the U.C. Riverside Design Thinking Program, a board member of Digital Brands Group, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Jameeka lives in Irvine, CA, with her husband Amilcar, who serves as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commissioner for the City of Irvine.


Bill Hammerle, U.S. Marine Corps – Tustin

AD73 cottie petrie norris veteran of the year bill hammerleCol. Bill Hammerle served an extensive career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He retired from the Marine Corps after 26 years as a Naval Aviator. During his service, he completed three tours as a Commanding Officer, serving in all four Marine Corps Air Wings, and accumulating over 4,000 flight hours. During Operation Desert Storm, Lt. Col Hammerle was assigned as the Supporting Arms Coordinator on the Battleship Missouri. He was appointed Commander of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin from 1993 to 1996, directing the comprehensive transition of the 1600-acre property from the Department of the Navy to the City of Tustin and the Tustin Redevelopment Agency. His preparation for the closure of the Tustin station ensured a smooth transition and has been praised by military officials as a national model for base closures. Col. Hammerle was also involved with the sale process established by the Navy for the former MCAS El Toro base in Irvine. Col. Hammerle served 17 years as an executive at homebuilder Lennar and mixed-use developer FivePoint, where he was involved in the redevelopment planning. He retired in 2022. Col. Hammerle remains actively involved within community activities with the City of Tustin and supports fundraising for Marine families. He was named Tustin Man of the Year in 2003, and recognized by Mayor Puckett and the City Council in 2015 for his continued contributions to the Tustin community. For 27 years Bill has participated in the organizing committee for the Tustin Tiller Days. Bill made sure the community of Tustin and surrounding cities had opportunities to experience the Tustin base with a variety of activities. Col. Hammerle is a 2023 recipient of the prestigious Semper Fidelis Award by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation for his longstanding volunteerism with the organization, which is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of needs-based scholarships to military children.