Congressman Brian Higgins celebrated the service of local veterans Charles B. Walker Sr. and the late-Ira Russel Roberts Jr. during a special presentation on Sunday.
“Each of these men served with honor and distinction decades ago and chose Buffalo as their home,” Higgins said. “Our country and community are better for their faithful service. It is a privilege to recognize Private First Class Walker and Sgt. First Class Roberts on behalf of a grateful nation.”
Walker was born on June 30, 1936, and spent his early life in Philadelphia. He began his service with the U.S. Army on Sept. 3, 1959, assigned to the 81st Transportation Company and specializing in vehicle maintenance. Walker served his country for nearly two years before his honorable discharge on Aug. 26, 1961.
Upon his return to civilian life, Walker continued to serve, this time as a U.S. Postal Service employee. He married the love of his life, Sylvia Bronner, and, together, they raised a family. After his retirement from the post office, Charles and Sylvia relocated to Buffalo to support the pastoral efforts of their son, Bishop Dr. T. Anthony Bronner, founder and senior pastor at ELIM Christian Fellowship. For two decades, Charles served in roles within the church supporting facility operations and congregation activities.
For his service in the Army over 60 years ago, Walker was presented a Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, signifying expertise in weapon qualifications; as well as a National Defense Service Medal, awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who served during periods of armed conflict or national emergency.
Roberts was born in 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1954, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the USS Mineral County. He later transferred to the U.S. Army, serving in the National Guard and later the Reserves. During his service, Roberts rose through the ranks, ultimately promoted to sergeant first class and assuming the role of Army instructor. In his military records, his superiors noted his strong leadership skills, self-motivation, and teaching excellence.
Following active service, he relocated to Buffalo, raised a family, and worked at TRICO until his retirement. He continued his military service in the Army Reserves for nearly four decades, until 1992. An active leader at ELIM Christian Fellowship, Ira was recognized as “Father of the Church” prior to his passing in early 2023, at the age of 87.
Thelma Roberts, Ira’s wife of 34 years and Queen Mother of the Church, accepted the following medals on behalf of her late-husband: the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with Three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, awarded for exemplary behavior, efficiency and fidelity while serving; and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with a Silver Hourglass Device, which recognizes outstanding service performed by members of Reserve units.
Higgins recognized the military service of both veterans during a service at ELIM Christian Fellowship, presenting the military medals and flags flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Rhonda Mingo, the daughter of Ira Roberts; Thelma Roberts, the wife of veteran Ira Roberts; Bishop Bronner; and Brian Higgins.
Bishop Bronner with Evelyn Williams, Charles Walker and Brian Higgins.
Charles Walker (group).