DeKalb County veterans fund awarded $5K from family of late Navy vet

Jeffrey A. Trail

DeKALB – The family of late Naval Lt. Jeffrey Trail recently donated $5,000 to the DeKalb County Veterans Recognition Fund, an endowment fund held at the DeKalb County Community Foundation.

Trail, a DeKalb native and graduate of DeKalb High School and the U.S. Naval Academy, died suddenly in 1997 at age 28, according to a news release. The donation came from the Jeffrey A. Trail Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation. The contribution to the Veterans Recognition Fund was made by the Trail family to honor their son and brother’s service and accomplishments.

Trail entered the United States Naval Academy in 1987 having been formally appointed by Senator Paul Simon. In his last year, he was the Fourth Battalion Adjutant. Jeffrey valued his years at the Academy and in June 1991, he graduated and was commissioned Ensign in the United States Navy, according to a news release.

Trail continued his professional military education at the Surface Warfare Officers School Pacific in San Diego, California. Upon completion he was assigned to the USS Gridley, CG 21, which was deployed to the Persian Gulf during the First Gulf War. While on the Gridley, he qualified and was designated as Surface Warfare Officer. He was promoted to Lieutenant, Junior Grade in May 1993.

After his experience on the Gridley, Trail joined Assault Craft Unit One at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, California. He became a department head there and was promoted to Lieutenant. In June 1995, after serving his commitment, he moved on from active duty with the Navy.

The DeKalb County Veterans Fund was created in 2023 by two local veterans, Michael Embrey, who served in the U.S. Air Force Band and champions various veteran activities throughout the region, and former DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith, a U.S. Army veteran.

“This is the largest contribution to date made to the Veterans Recognition Fund,” said Embrey in a news release. “We have had several families inquire about adding the DeKalb Veteran’s Fund in their ‘will’ and estate planning package.”

“The Fund’s distributions over the years will assist in the establishment and upkeep of veteran memorials of various kinds throughout DeKalb County,” Embrey said.

In a statement, Smith said that one attraction of the Fund would be to serve as a beneficiary of donations from individuals and families who have strong empathy for veterans, either those presently serving or those who may have previously been military veterans.

Further information on either the Jeffrey A. Trail Memorial Fund or the DeKalb County Veterans Recognition Fund can be found online at Embrey can also be reached at or Smith at

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