Tag Archive | "Jordan Haerter"

Soldier Ride Honors Haerter and Wounded, Raises $200k

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From Main Street to  Long Beach, Sag Harbor was dripping in red, white and blue on Saturday, as cyclists and walkers participated in the Soldier Ride, the Hamptons, to honor Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. JoAnn Lyles, Haerter’s mother, said it was poignant to watch as several disabled soldiers and marines rode on adaptive bikes over the bridge linking Sag Harbor and North Haven, which was recently renamed in her son’s honor, a Sag Harbor native who was killed last year in Iraq. A number of local veterans formed a line on the median, each holding an American flag and saluting the service men and women, many without limbs, as they paddled by.

Over 400 people registered to participate in Saturday’s event, but including the crowds of locals and visitors who cheered the cyclists and walkers on, Haerter’s father Christian believed closer to 800 people were in attendance. The event was comprised of a 28-mile or 65-mile bike ride and a 4-mile walk from Long Wharf to Long Beach. The 28-mile route started at the Amagansett American Legion, went through Sag Harbor and ended in Amagansett. The 65-mile route ended at the Montauk Lighthouse. A ceremony was held mid-way through the event on the Long Wharf. Haerter’s parents, Reggie Cornelia, a Soldier Ride organizer, actor Dan Akroyd, and the Lieutenant of Jordan’s platoon, Lieutenant Dan Runzheimer, spoke at the ceremony.

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According to Chris Carney, one of the founders of Soldier Ride, the event and a silent auction held on Saturday raised around $200,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, a not-for-profit organization aimed at providing support for wounded service men and women.

“Checks are still coming in . . . but all said and done we raised over $200,000 which in this current economic atmosphere is amazing,” noted Carney. “We didn’t have a target [for our fundraising] . . . While the funds are desperately needed for the Wounded Warrior Project to continue, when they, [the service men and women], come up here it is really about them.”

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Soldier Ride, said Carney, is also a rehabilitative event, meant to connect wounded service men and women and help them remain active despite their disabilities. As the cyclists completed a victory lap through Main Street, the public seemed to be touched by these men and women’s perseverance.

“ I think a lot of people read about the sacrifices [made by service men and women], but when you are confronted with somebody who has lost their leg, they realize that this is a reality,” remarked Haerter. “I saw a lot of people weeping when they saw [the cyclists’] determination and pride.”

Almost 26 Marines from Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter’s platoon cycled in the event. The celebrations on Saturday, however, were bittersweet for these marines. On Friday, they learned a former member of their platoon Corporal Nicholas Xiarhos, who fought alongside Haerter, was recently killed in Afghanistan. As the young men made their way back to Amagansett, they took a detour to Oakland Cemetery, where Haerter is buried, to pay their respects.

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The men, along with 24 others, made up “Team Jordan” which was sponsored by Lyles and Christian Haerter. The team, said Haerter, raised almost $17,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, far exceeding his expectations.

According to Carney, the event in Sag Harbor will most likely be held again next year.

“I had so many people come up to me one Sunday, saying ‘next year we should do this.” They want to get more involved,” said Carney. “Soldier Ride continues to snowball as the word gets out . . . We are a unique organization because you can see and be apart of the people you are helping.”

Salute for A Hero: Navy Cross for Jordan Haerter; President Singles Out Sag Harbor Native in Friday’s Speech

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A week after Sag Harbor’s L/Cpl Jordan Haerter was honored posthumously with the Navy Cross for his act of heroism saving the lives of dozens of fellow Marines from a suicide bomber last year, he was singled out in President Barack Obama’s speech this Friday morning, February 27, at Camp LeJeune, where Haerter had done his basic training. In his speech, Obama declared the combat mission in Iraq would end by August 31, 2010, and he praised the servicemen and women who fought to liberate the country. In particular he lauded those who gave their lives, mentioning L/Cpl Haerter and the other Marine who died with him that day, Corporal Jonathan T. Yale.

“In an age when suicide is a weapon, they were suddenly faced with an oncoming truck filled with explosives,” the president said on Friday. “These two Marines stood their ground. These two Marines opened fire. And these two Marines stopped that truck. When the thousands of pounds of explosives detonated, they had saved fifty Marines and Iraqi police who would have been in the truck’s path.”For an excerpt and video of the speech, see the end of this post.    

It was just after 2 a.m. when the bus pulled out of the Pierson High School parking lot in Sag Harbor last Friday, February 20 — headed for the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia for an 11 a.m. ceremony, posthumously awarding the Navy Cross Medal to Lance Cpl. Haerter.
It was a decision made by the Secretary of the Navy, the highest-ranking military official — second only to the United States President, that two particular men receive the award for valor.The Navy Cross is the second highest medal awarded for valor in the military, next to the Medal of Honor.
Haerter was a 2006 Pierson graduate, enlisted into the Marines and sent to Iraq last year. His duties came to an abrupt end when he, along with Corporal Yale, were mortally wounded, defending their post from a suicide truck attack in Ramadi, Iraq.

As the two Marines held their positions at a checkpoint just outside a security station, they motioned for the truck to slow down. Both Haeter and Yale noticed the truck was ignoring their requests and identified the vehicle as a threat. They shot at the truck, killing the driver, but at the same time, setting off the 2000 pounds of explosives in the vehicle. Both Haerter, 19 and Yale, 21, belonged to the First Battalion, Ninth Marines. Now they are credited with saving 33 of their own men, and hundreds of others through their heroic efforts.
As friends, family, and military personnel found their way to their seats on Friday at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, Marines surrounded the room, poised at attention.
Haerter’s father, Christian, recalled walking through the museum, when he first arrived, and said it was “breathtaking.”
“It was like a shrine to the Marines,” he said, “a lot of history oozes from there, and to know that we were there specifically in honor of Jordan, brought tears to my eyes.”
As the Marines escorted people into the museum, portraits of both Haerter and Yale stood on easels, underscoring the story of their heroism for everyone who entered that day.
Christian also added there were small framed photos of both Haerter and Yale in the gift shop, with their dates of birth and death. He said he saw those photos and realized what his son’s heroism meant to so many others.
The ceremony began with the Marine band playing the National Anthem.
The men in the One-Eight and One-Nine battalions then “snapped to attention,” according to JoAnn Lyles, Jordan’s mother, as Secretary of the Navy, David Witnner looked them over, to make sure their uniforms were up to military standards. He then released them to parade rest and gave his speech.
“The ceremony was really beautiful,” Lyles recalled. She said the secretary spoke “eloquently” about both young men being honored that day.

“Today’s ceremony is a great occasion to give the American people some sense of the debt we owe to our Marines and to all of our military forces who defend freedom around the world,” said Witnner, the day’s only speaker.
“Jonathan and Jordan are shining examples of the promise of America’s next generation,” Witnner continued. “They could have had many other opportunities in life. Yet they chose to leave these things behind and devote themselves instead to the calling of their country. They gave their lives as they lived them, for truths as emphatic as they are simple: Brotherhood. Loyalty. Devotion. Sacrifice. Extraordinary Heroism—those words epitomize their last selfless act on this Earth.”
Lyles said, amid tears, that she had mixed emotions sitting, listening to the speech.
“As the citations were being read, all the military stood [out of respect] and we were told to stay seated,” Lyles said.
“It was tough,” she said, “it was truly an honor and I was fighting back tears.”
First Witnner stood in front of Yale’s wife, and read the entire citation to her. Then, Witnner moved to both Lyles and Christian and read the citation to them. Witnner presented each parent with the Navy Cross.

During reception ceremony, Tom Toole, a Sag Harbor native and retiree from the U.S. Air Force, who knew Haerter from a young boy, gave Lyles and Christian a hand-made shadow box, made of cherry wood, with replicas of all Haerter’s medals, his dog tags and a reproduction of the Navy Cross inside. Toole also gave each of them a flag that flew over the capital in Albany.
Lyles said now, in her living room, she has a new coffee table, with a velvet lined draw and a glass cover to showcase her son’s achievements.
Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris and Assemblyman Fred W. Theile Jr. both flew down to Virginia Friday morning to participate in the honoring of the two young men.
Ferraris felt the ceremony was impressive and said he was “deeply honored to be able to witness this event, and humbled at the same time.” He added that Haerter was being awarded for such an amazing sacrifice.
Christian said that now, as he sits and reflects on the experience, he told his friend this very same thing:
“I’ve kind of come to realize and accept Jordan’s death. The thing that is hard to believe is the magnitude of what Jordan accomplished and the sacrifice that allowed him to do what he did that day.”

From President Barack Obama’s speech at Camp LeJeune, February 27, 2009:

“The starting point for our policies must always be the safety of the American people. I know that you – the men and women of the finest fighting force in the history of the world – can meet any challenge, and defeat any foe. And as long as I am your Commander-in-Chief, I promise you that I will only send you into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and provide you with the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That is the most important lesson of all – for the consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable.

You know because you have seen those sacrifices. You have lived them. And we all honor them.

“Semper Fidelis” – it means always being faithful to Corps, and to country, and to the memory of fallen comrades like Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. These young men enlisted in a time of war, knowing they would face great danger. They came here, to Camp Lejeune, as they trained for their mission. And last April, they were standing guard in Anbar. In an age when suicide is a weapon, they were suddenly faced with an oncoming truck filled with explosives. These two Marines stood their ground. These two Marines opened fire. And these two Marines stopped that truck. When the thousands of pounds of explosives detonated, they had saved fifty Marines and Iraqi police who would have been in the truck’s path, but Corporal Yale and Lance Corporal Haerter lost their own lives. Jonathan was 21. Jordan was 19.

In the town where Jordan Haerter was from, a bridge was dedicated in his name. One Marine who traveled to the ceremony said: “We flew here from all over the country to pay tribute to our friend Jordan, who risked his life to save us. We wouldn’t be here without him.”

America’s time in Iraq is filled with stories of men and women like this. Their names are written into bridges and town squares. They are etched into stones at Arlington, and in quiet places of rest across our land. They are spoken in schools and on city blocks. They live on in the memories of those who wear your uniform, in the hearts of those they loved, and in the freedom of the nation they served.”

Haerter to Receive Navy Cross

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This Friday, friends, family and members of the community will be traveling to Virginia to attend a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, where Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter will posthumously be awarded the Navy Cross – the highest medal for bravery given by the Department of the Navy.

JoAnn Lyles, Jordan’s mother, said the Marines are expecting around 400 people to attend Friday’s ceremony, which will begin at 11 a.m. at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia at the Quantico Marine Base.

Haerter, a 2006 Pierson High school graduate, joined the Marines after getting his diploma. He was sent to Iraq, and after just one month, the 19-year-old and fellow Marine, Cpl. Jonathon T. Yale, 21-years-old from Burkesville, Va., saved the lives of 33 Marines, dozens of Iraqi police and hundreds of Iraqi citizens by stopping a suicide bomber from entering their territory.

For their efforts, both Marines will posthumously receive the Navy Cross, the second highest honor of all the armed forces, just behind the Medal of Honor, with the families accepting the medals.

According to Lyles, Lt. Col. Brett Bourne, commander of the Battalion, learned that the two Marines would be receiving the medal as he was driving back from November’s Sag Harbor Bridge Dedication in honor of Haerter.

It is going to be a proud day for all Marines,” said Lyles, “some of the people attending are from the 1-9 [First Battalion, Ninth Marines, the same Battalion as Jordan and Yale], from the Vietnam error.”

The Haerters, both Jordan’s father, Christian and Lyles, will meet Yale’s family for the very first time on Friday.

Lyles organized a Hampton Jitney bus for those looking to attend the ceremony, which originally had a cost attached to it. After learning of the trip, the Suffolk Police Veterans Association offered to pay the entire cost of the charter, and a guided tour through the museum.

On Tuesday, Lyles said she has learned that a tour guide at the museum has already added Yale and Haerter’s story to her tour. The guide will explain the story of both Marines and how their story is similar to that of Marine’s in Beirut. JoAnn said the make and model of truck was the same in both cases. On her blog, the tour guide said the theme she uses to explain the connection between both cases is “how Marines know they can count on each other.”

Further, she said Marines “do the things they do because they know there are other Marines counting on them. Indirectly, they do what they do because there are civilians counting on them, too.”

L/Cpl Jordan Haerter to Receive Navy Cross Posthumously

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The Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, is scheduled to present Navy Cross medals, posthumously, to Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, from Sag Harbor, N.Y., and Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale, from Burkeville, Va., at a ceremony February 20 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Quantico, Va.

The Navy Cross is the highest medal for valor awarded by the Department of the Navy and across the armed forces is second only to the Medal of Honor. To date, 25 Navy Crosses have been awarded in the Global War on Terror.

Haerter and Yale were infantrymen assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, serving with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, and 2nd Bn., 8th Marines, respectively, and were killed in action while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The morning of April 22, 2008, according to Haerter and Yale’s personal award recommendations, a truck began to rapidly negotiate the obstacles leading to an entry control point in Ramadi, Iraq, where Haerter and Yale were standing post. The two Marines quickly recognized the threat a suicide bomber driving a truck capable of carrying a large quantity of explosives posed to the Marines and Iraqi policeman in the area and engaged the truck with precise fire.

As a result of their actions, the truck stopped a few feet from their positions and the suicide bomber detonated the approximately 2,000 pounds of explosives in the truck, leveling the entry control point and mortally wounding the two Marines.

“The explosion blew out all of the windows over 150 meters from where the blast hit,” said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Tupaj, a rifleman with 3rd Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Bn., 9th Marines. “They saved all of our lives, if it wasn’t for them that gate probably wouldn’t have held. If that truck had made it into the compound, there would’ve been a lot more casualties. They saved everyone’s life here.”

Haerter and Yale’s personal award recommendations credit them with saving the lives of 50 Marines and Iraqi policemen.


Bus to Quantico

On Friday, February 20, a chartered bus will travel from Sag Harbor to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia, Quantico Marine Base where LCpl Jordan C. Haerter, USMC along with Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale will be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross with Extraordinary Heroism.

For Sag Harbor residents interested in attending the ceremony, a Hampton Jitney chartered bus, will depart from Pierson High School parking lot, 200 Jermain Ave, Sag Harbor at 2 a.m. on Friday, February 20. Additional pick-up locations will be at the “Park and Ride” Exit 49 on the Long Island Expressway, Route 110 Huntington and another stop is at Bryant Park in New York City between 40th and 42nd streets and 5th and 6th Avenues. The ceremony is at 11 a.m. in the museum’s Leatherneck Gallery. A free guided tour of the museum is available following the ceremony. The return trip will bring riders back to their boarding locations, reaching Sag Harbor at 2 a.m. on Saturday.

The Suffolk Police Veterans Association has donated the entire cost of the charter — the bus ride and museum admission is now free to all veterans and friends who would like to attend the ceremony honoring Haerter and Yale.

Those interested in making the trip should contact Jordan’s Mom, JoAnn Lyles, at 725-1788 or 996-3291. She can also be reached at sagfolks@optonline.net.



A History of the Navy Cross

The years of the “Great War” were not easy ones for the men and women in the naval service. The Herculean task of transporting and escorting the hundreds of thousands of troops of the American Expeditionary Force to Europe, the growing pains of fielding new aviation and submarine elements and the savage fighting of sailors and Marines on battlefields across France all lay at the feet of the naval service. Along with this came an increase in the size of the naval service to its largest at that time, and the task of working hand-in-hand with Allied counterparts.

New to this experience was the European custom of one nation decorating heroes of another nation. The United States, with the Medal of Honor as its sole decoration, was caught unprepared not only for this custom, but also had no appropriate award to recognize heroism of a level less than that which would merit the Medal of Honor and no decoration to reward the myriad acts of meritorious non-combat service that the war would spur.

The U.S. Army shared this dilemma and with the aid of President Woodrow Wilson and the Congress in early and mid-1918 instituted its Distinguished Service Cross and Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) with clear guidelines for the award of the Distinguished Service Cross for combat heroism and the DSM award for distinguished non-combat duty in a position of great responsibility. This pair was available in time for awarding during World War I.

Parallel awards were created a year later for the Navy and Marine Corps, months after the armistice and amid the massive demobilization of forces.

No prouder decorations exist today than the Navy Cross and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, but their creation and early award were fraught with controversy, ambiguity and confusion.

As enacted February 4, 1919, the Navy Cross was the naval services third-highest award and could be awarded for both combat heroism and for other distinguished service. Many, for instance, were earned for extraordinary diving and salvage feats. As originally third in precedence behind the Medal or Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, more than one Navy Cross recipient regarded its award as a “snub” in lieu of the Distinguished Service Medal.

The same act established the Distinguished Service Medal. Both decorations could be awarded retroactive to April 6, 1917. It would be 23 years and a August 7, 1942 action by Congress that would place the Navy Cross just beneath the Medal of Honor, and limit its award to combat-only recognition.

The Navy Cross was designed by James Earle Fraser, a distinguished sculptor, member of the nation’s Fine Arts Commission and designer of the obverse of the Victory Medal and an early version of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. The Navy Cross’ arguable resemblance to Great Britain’s Navy Distinguished Service Cross is noteworthy, but not elaborated upon in any records. Fraser experimented with the image of a World War I-era destroyer on the medal, but finally opted for the more timeless, flowing lines of a 15th-century caraval or sailing ship.

Subtle variations have marked the evolution of the Navy Cross from 1919 to the present. One constant has been the actual medal, which has been struck from the same die and is of three-part construction: the cross itself and the front and back medallions, which are struck separately and subsequently soldered together. Current forgers almost always strike their fakes in one piece, allowing the studied eye one method of detecting frauds

The earliest issues of the Navy Cross (1919-1928) had a very narrow white stripe centered on the blue ribbon and a planchet of dull, sometimes greenish bronze. Some were awarded with the planchet reversed, the sailing ship being placed on the back and the crossed anchors and “USN” on the front. A split broach with an open-pin catch was used.

Later issues (1928-1941) had the customary 1/4-inch white stripe and a somewhat darker, gunmetal bronze finish.

One legendary variation picked up the informal nickname “Black Widow” and was in use about 1941-1942, in which the medal itself and its wrap broach were over-anodized and sported a very dark, even black finish. Ironically, many of the “Black Widow” awards were posthumous.

Midway through World War II, contracts specified the original dull bronze finish seen in the years since.

Presently, the Navy Cross is awarded to a person who distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of the Medal of Honor. To warrant this distinctive decoration, the act or the execution of duty must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk.



Dedication of the L/Cpl Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge

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Bridge Dedicated to War Hero Who Will Receive Navy Cross

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A single act of heroism has been recognized this week with the renaming of the bridge in Sag Harbor and the announcement that L/Cpl Jordan Haerter will posthumously receive the Navy Cross.

Under steel gray skies two columns of American flags snapped in a strengthening breeze Saturday morning creating thin lines of red, white and blue on the edges of the bridge that connects Sag Harbor to North Haven. At the foot of the bridge, on the Sag Harbor side, tents shielded a couple hundred veterans, soldiers, dignitaries, family members and friends of Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Hearter, the Sag Harbor native who gave his life in Ramadi, Iraq earlier this year, defending his post against a suicide bomber. They had come to watch and pay respects as the decorated bridge was to be formally named after the war hero and in memory of other veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. Haerter’s parents learned this week that their son was also to posthumously receive the Navy Cross, a rare award and only two Marines have received higher awards in the past 30 years. Haerter’s commander, Lt. Col. Brett Bourne said in an email this week that, in his 20-plus years in the Marines, he had never served with anyone who had earned the Navy Cross.

In addition to the naming of the bridge, L/Cpl Haerter’s parents, JoAnn Lyles and Christian Haerter, unveiled a granite obelisk that now stands partially surrounded by a hedge just off the beach by the windmill. It is a place, noted Mayor Greg Ferraris, that Haerter spent many hours looking out at the harbor, and where, the mayor imagined in a his speech on Saturday morning, that Haerter contemplated his decision to join the Marines and what it meant for his future.

The obelisk, which had stood covered in a sheet of camouflage until the Marine’s parents unveiled it, is made of red granite, a color that echoes both the Marines and the colors of Pierson High School, from which Haerter graduated in 2006.

L/Cpl Haerter had only been in Iraq one month when he was defending a checkpoint in the city where a truck began careening down an alley toward his post. The driver defied several orders to stop, and was ultimately confronted by Haerter who pushed a fellow-Marine behind a barricade out of harms way and fired at the truck. The truck detonated, killing Haerter and another Marine, but Haerter’s actions are credited with saving 33 other Marines stationed further up the alley, dozens of Iraqi policed and hundreds of Iraqi civilians, said Lt. Col. Bourne who was sleeping the morning of April 22 when he was awakened by the sound of the 2000 pound truck bomb exploding.

Haerter’s death and the subsequent response it brought from Sag Harbor sustained the battalion through difficult times, said Bourne, who is commander of Haerter’s battalion.

“We watched Jordan’s funeral from films made by Marines who were here; and letters and pictures of Jordan were in every nook and cranny in ever bombed out building and rubbled place where we had Marines sleeping,” said the commander.

“It made the long months in Iraq immeasurably more meaningful by the axis of Jordan, Christian and JoAnn, and Sag Harbor,” he said.

It was Haerter’s mother, JoAnn who offered the most emotional comments Saturday morning, speaking to the dozens of Marines — many of them from her son’s First Battalion, Ninth Marines, known as the Walking Dead — who had come to Sag Harbor specially for the ceremony, and many who were seeing their own parents for the first time since going into the service.

“Welcome to Sag Harbor,” she told them, and urged them to enjoy what the village had to offer.

If her son was here to show them around, she said, he would have taken then “four-wheeling on Dirt D or on the ocean beach, test you aim at the gun club or start up a paint ball war.”

They could have gone to his grandmother’s house for her homemade bread with butter or cheese, or maybe pick from her blueberry bushes.

Reflecting on the life of her son and the challenges young people face she observed:

“Sometimes in the winds of change, we find our true direction.”

Jordan set himself a goal when he decided to join the Marines as he was preparing to leave Pierson, and “he challenged himself to that goal,” said Ms. Lyles, and “had transformed himself in his senior year.”

“I’m confident that Jordan found his true direction.”

L/Cpl. Haerter’s father, Christian, applauded the people of the community and the Marines who had such an influence on his son.

Jordan’s heroism was a “culmination of the truly shining life lived here in the safety and seeming innocence of our Sag Harbor.”

“Today is not so much the memorialization of a man and a Marine,” he continued, “as it is a celebration of the community that molded him. As I look around through my tears, I see many of you who positively influenced Jordan’s life. And gave him direction and taught him the meaning of brotherhood and bravery, and ultimately brought him home to us.”

Other speakers included Congressman Tim Bishop, who called the memorial “a way for the community to say that a hero walked these streets;” and Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy who observed that, generations from now, when someone might ask who the man was whose name is on the bridge, those in the audience can say, “he was a man who gave his life so that you can live in the freest place on the face of the Earth.”

The effort to name the bridge was driven in state government by native son Assemblyman Fred Thiele and co-sponsored by Senator Ken Lavalle.

Quoting novelist F.Scott Fitzgerald, Thiele said “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”

He said the vote to approve the name change was, of course, unanimous. But he said it gave him the chance to read into the record the legislative findings, including recounting L/Cpl Haerter’s actions that day.

“When I finished reading, everyone spontaneously stood up and applauded,” said Thiele.


The morning ended with no small amount of ceremony. As the speakers filed out from under the tents and made their way to the foot of the bridge and behind a red ribbon stretched from side to side — the rumble of a helicopter and the whoosh of its blades slowly drowned out the Reverend Cardone speaking over the public address system, dedicating the bridge in L/Cpl. Haerter’s name.

The olive green chopper, with “Marines” emblazoned on the side, crawled across the sky, and took a position, hovering about ten feet above the deck of the bridge, where the span crested at a kind of horizon.

With dignitaries lined across the bridge, the ribbon was cut, and the way cleared for a phalanx including L/Cpl Haerter’s family, a Marine color guard and a contingent of Haerter’s comrades from the First Battalion/ Ninth Marines, who slowly and deliberately marched to the crest of the bridge, beneath the whirring blades of the helicopter, then disappeared beyond the horizon.

Earlier in the day the Rev. Cardone, speaking of L/Cpl. Haerter’s actions, observed: “no one shows greater love than this, than laying down one’s life for one’s friends.”



Dedication of L/Cpl Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge: Commander Brett Bourne

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Dedication of L/Cpl Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge: Jordan’s Parents

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A Cause Everyone Can Get Behind

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This spring we were a community in mourning, a community with a treasured son taken from us far too soon, a community who gathered with solemn hearts to say good-bye while the heavens delivered torrents of rain making us all wonder if the heavens knew what a heartbreaking day this was for the Village of Sag Harbor.

As with any loss, we have continued our daily lives, not forgetting Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter and paying tribute to his memory, each in our own way. This Saturday we all have an opportunity to honor Jordan in a truly substantive and vital way. Starting at 10 a.m. Soldier Ride, an organization that formed in Amagansett to aid the Wounded Warrior Project, will begin the East End portion of its Empire State Challenge — a trek from Amagansett to Montauk.

This event is tailored with the concept of being all-inclusive offering the athletic 62 and 35-mile cycling challenges, as well as a four-mile walking challenge. It is an opportunity to come together as a community and raise money in Jordan’s name for a cause he would surely support — providing assistance and encouragement for the men and women who have returned to our shores after serving overseas and are now facing life-changing injuries.

Supporting a program like the Wounded Warrior Project is the very definition of “supporting our troops,” no matter what one’s stance is on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wounded Warriors’ reach begins when many of our troops return to army medical centers like Walter Reed where they are greeted with backpacks filled with essential care and comfort items like toiletries, clothing, a CD player, and more — a seemingly small gift, but wholly important for someone returning home to a hospital, needing a sense of normalcy above all else.

But their effort does not end with toothbrushes and playing cards. Wounded Warrior has evolved to include outreach programs, employment support, advocacy, coping programs, rehabilitation programs like Soldier Ride — its reach is virtually endless and its benefits evident in the organization’s rapid growth over the last five years.

On Saturday, we will all have the opportunity to celebrate Jordan’s memory and name with his family and friends. More importantly we will have the chance to celebrate a better future for many servicemen and women who will come home under happier circumstances, but who still need our support. 

A Bridge For Jordan

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The same night that Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris and the board of trustees unanimously passed a resolution supporting the measure, on Tuesday New York State Governor David Paterson signed legislation renaming the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge “The Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge” making the change official.

Officials from the Village of North Haven signed a similar letter of support following their meeting on Monday night.

Lance Cpl. Haerter, a Sag Harbor resident and 2006 Pierson High School graduate, was killed outside the city of Ramadhi in Iraq in April. He was a U.S. Marine and had just reached the one-month mark of his first tour when a suicide bomber drove into the checkpoint he was guarding and detonated. His actions and sacrifice, said military officials, saved over 30 lives that day.

Following his death, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle sponsored legislation to rename the bridge, which is a part of the state highway system. According to Thiele, they consulted Sag Harbor and North Haven village officials, as well as the family about the measure. The family, said Thiele, said they consider naming the bridge for Jordan “the consummate honor.”

A monument will be erected in his memory, paid for by the Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter Memorial Fund, at the base of the bridge.

“The naming of the bridge in Jordan’s honor compliments the efforts of the community to place a monument in his honor at the Windmill beach at the foot of the bridge,” said Thiele. “Like the bridge, which has joined our communities together for so many years, Jordan has joined all of us together again. I know it is a source of comfort during these very trying days for the Haerter family.”

“I am proud to have signed the resolution to help move that forward,” said Mayor Ferraris on Wednesday. “It will be a lasting memory for the family, as well as for the residents and visitors of Sag Harbor.”

Code Changes

The Village of Sag Harbor has been mired in a zoning code revision for well over a year with residents, business and property owners alike spending the late spring and early summer discussing their ideas and concerns with village officials — ideas and concerns that have already had an impact on the proposed code.

On Tuesday night, during the board of trustees meeting, Trustee Tiffany Scarlato reminded the crowd that a meeting is planned for this Saturday, July 12 at 9 a.m. in the Municipal Building.

“We do have a number of proposed revisions that are in the works,” said Scarlato, noting affordable housing provisions will be worked into the code including a change that requires just 20 percent of new apartments be affordable, rather than all.

While there has been discussion about eliminating the village’s parking trust fund, said Scarlato, the matter is still a topic of discussion and may be settled after the new code’s adoption. Both a new draft of the code, as well as the Comprehensive Plan, said Scarlato, will likely be released to the public in two weeks time.

Bob Fisher, Sag Harbor resident, business and property owner and member of the Sag Harbor Business Association (SHBA) approached the board in order “to get some things straight,” he said, with the rumors swirling around the village.

Fisher noted the SHBA formed similarly to the Merchants Association of Sag Harbor (MASH), and sought to help with the zoning process. They also intended, he said, to remain an organization dedicated to many of the same causes as Save Sag Harbor.

Fisher said the SHBA has had concerns with the code, many of which have been addressed.

“So there is no conflict and I want that to be understood,” he said. “There is no conflict. We are not the enemy. We want to be a part of the solution.”

Fisher said he did not want to see this “sabotaged by rumor and innuendo” and while there are some concerns left, ultimately the SHBA wants a “win, win situation” for everyone, adding not everyone will be happy with the final product.

“We are here to help, not be a hindrance,” he said.

Scarlato, noting she was not speaking of Fisher specifically, said she has seen communication attributed to the SHBA that was less than constructive.

Fisher reminded that an e-mail can be sent by anyone, and would not necessarily reflect the position of the board.

Mayor Greg Ferraris said following Saturday’s meeting another meeting would be scheduled.

“Like Bob said, not everyone is going to get 100 percent of what they want,” he said, but the board was committed to working towards an acceptable resolution.

In other village news, Ferraris named Neil Slevin the new chairman of the planning board. Current chairman, Jerome Toy, will remain on the board, said Ferraris and was commended for his work. All the rest of the board seats up for appointment as well as chair positions were kept on hold over, which means they will remain the same until further notice.

Above: The newly named “The Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge” as seen from Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. (r shapiro photo)