Tag Archive | "Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter"

Congressman Bishop Seeks Medal of Honor for Haerter

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Heller_Haerter Medal of Honor Submission Ceremony @ American Legion 3-16-14_4129_LR

Christian Haerter, father of fallen soldier Jordan Haerter, speaks as New York State Congressman Tim Bishop Congressman, joined by New York State Assemblyman Fed Thiele and JoAnn Lynes, mother of Marine Jordan Haerter, announced a bill to advance the Medal of Honor for Sag Harbor’s Lcpl Jordan Haerter and to Cpl Jonathan Yale during a ceremony held at the Sag Harbor American Legion on Sunday. 

By Stephen J. Kotz; photography by Michael Heller

It started last year as a grassroots effort to have Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter and his fellow marine, Corporal Jonathan Yale, posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal Honor for their heroism in Iraq in 2008.

But it received a significant boost when U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, speaking at the Sag Harbor American Legion on Sunday, announced that last week he had co-sponsored legislation with Congressman Robert Hurt of Virginia, who represents the Yale family, seeking a presidential review to determine whether two marines should receive the medal, the nation’s highest military honor.

“We are offering this legislation so that Jordan and Jonathan receive every single consideration for the highest award to which they are entitled,” Mr. Bishop told the gathering made of Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars members, scouts and other friends and supporters Lance Cpl. Haerter and his family.

Mr. Bishop’s bill will be sent to the House Armed Services Committee, which has the option of sending it on to the Pentagon. If it passes that stage it will be forwarded to President Barack Obama.

Mr. Bishop was joined at the podium by Mr. Haerter’s parent, Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles, Assemblyman Fred. W. Thiele Jr. and Marty Knab, the Legion’s commander.

“These were outstanding young men who died in the service of their country, but first and foremost they were beloved sons,” Mr. Bishop said.

“In Sag Harbor we all know in our hearts he has already won the Medal of Honor,” Mr. Thiele said. “Now we have to convince the powers that be.”

“Time has gone by, but it is important that people haven’t forgotten your son and what he did for his country,” Mr. Thiele continued, “and how proud we are that he is a son of Sag Harbor.”

“It’s hard for me to believe that is coming up on six years that Jordan lost his life,” said Mr. Haerter. “I want to thank all the members of the community of Sag Harbor as a whole for their continuing support from the day he was killed until today.”

Mr. Haerter said he did not know if the review would result in his son and Cpl. Yale receiving the Medal of Honor. “We just feel that it will give Jordan and Jonathan a chance at a review.”

Congressman Bishop also said he did not know what the odds were. “I’m confident it will get careful consideration,” he said, “but I think the likelihood of success is modest.”

Phil Como, representing Sea Cliff American Legion Post #456 and VFW Post #347, who has been involved in the effort to get the two marines the medal, said in his mind they were deserving.

“In six seconds, they made a decision that their lives had to be sacrificed to save 50 other marines and Iraqi staff,” he said. “I feel there is a moral imperative here.”

“The surviving marines, to a man, will tell you that they are going to live the rest of their lives with children, grandchildren, graduations, Christmases and weddings” because of their heroism.

Lance Cpl. Haerter and Cpl. Yale were killed on April 22, 2008, shortly after they went on guard duty at a joint security station in Ramadi, Iraq, when a suicide bomber, driving a truck laden with 2,000 pounds of explosives, tried to drive through the concrete barriers separating the station from the street. The marines returned fire, stopping the truck, but died when the vehicle exploded.

Last year, an anonymous Virginia resident started a petition on the White House website seeking the Medal of Honor for the two marines. That effort has since been replaced by one on the change.org website that has collected 39,000 signatures, Mr. Haerter said.

Solider Ride to Honor Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter

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For the second year in a row, Solider Ride, the Hamptons is dedicated to Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, a marine who was killed a year ago in Iraq, but this year’s event will bring the fundraiser to Haerter’s hometown of Sag Harbor.

Soldier Ride, the Hamptons will take place on Saturday, July 25 and will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization founded by Joe Melia to provide support for U.S. servicemen and women returning to the United States after overseas combat. Whether it be Wounded Warrior’s signature backpack filled with toiletries, amenities and clothing, or outreach, career counseling, advocacy, family and coping services, the Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to providing resources for servicemen and women returning from overseas, many with life altering injuries.

Soldier Ride has also evolved to become a rehabilitative sporting event for injured soldiers, some who are learning to live with injuries that have resulted in amputation.

This year’s route for both the 28-mile or 65-mile bike ride or four mile walk brings the event through Sag Harbor Village, with a special tribute to Lance Corporal Haerter scheduled to begin on Long Wharf at 11:30 a.m., roughly half way through part of the scheduled bike ride. The Sag Harbor walk will commence after the tribute with “Honor Our Heroes,” which will feature Chris Carney, an East Hampton resident who took part in the inaugural cross country Soldier Ride in 2004, and the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines riding down Main Street and over the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge leading the beginning of the Sag Harbor leg of the event.

Participants can choose to just be a part of the Sag Harbor walk or can ride in the 28-mile cycling event that will loop riders from the Amagansett American Legion through Sag Harbor and back to Amagansett. A 65-mile event will have cyclists start in Amagansett bring them through Sag Harbor and end at the Montauk Lighthouse, a Soldier Ride tradition since that first cross country ride began there in 2004. The following year, the cross-country cycle ended there as well.

Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles, who along with Jordan’s father, Christian Haerter, have sponsored a team in their son’s name, remembers Carney’s inaugural trek – the first of what has become many Soldier Ride events nationwide. She said on Tuesday it was not until last year, when the organization honored Jordan’s sacrifice, that she became involved in the group.

Lance Corporal Haerter, a 2006 graduate of Pierson High School, was killed outside the city of Ramadhi in April of 2008. The 19-year-old U.S. Marine had just reached the one-month mark in his first tour of duty in Iraq when a suicide bomber drove into a checkpoint he was guarding, detonating the vehicle. The actions and sacrifice of Lance Corporal Haerter and Corporal Jonathan Yale of Virginia, both of whom died trying to stop the suicide bomber, saved the lives of over 50 marines and members of the Iraqi police force, according to military reports.

Lance Corporal Haerter has posthumously received the highest of military honors, including the Navy Cross Medal and the Purple Heart Medal. 

Since his death, the Sag Harbor/North Haven Bridge was renamed in his honor, and his father has begun Jordan’s Initiative, a memorial fund to supply deployed troops and returning servicemen and women resources.

For Lyles, getting involved with the Wounded Warrior Project and Soldier Ride is something she feels she can do to give back in a meaningful way, but acknowledged being a part of the organization has also helped her.

“I think I can offer them a lot in terms of being a local, but this also does so much for me,” she said on Tuesday. “It feels good to be proactive and doing proactive things to help such an important cause.”

Reg Cornelia is one of several Solider Ride coordinators who has ensured the project’s success over the last five years. Stephen Talkhouse owner Peter Honerkamp helped conceive the idea with Carney taking on the roll of cross country bike rider for two summers, raising thousands for the Wounded Warrior Project and beginning Soldier Ride, which now has events across the country.

On Tuesday, Cornelia said once the group heard about Jordan’s death in Iraq, they felt it was appropriate to honor the Sag Harbor native in any way they could.

“That is what this program is about, recognizing and appreciating what these guys are doing,” said Cornelia.

Lyles has sponsored “Team Jordan” for the second year in a row and already has 29 members competing in Jordan’s name. Another team will also be made up of over two-dozen marines flying in from Iraq, some who served with Jordan, said Lyles. A flyover, the Patriot Guard lining the Lance Corporal Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, and the “Honor our Heroes” lap will also be a part of the tribute to Jordan. This year Lyles said she looks forward to being able to talk with marines and servicemen and women who participate in this year’s event.

“It will definitely be an emotional time, but a good time,” she said. “Last year, it was still too fresh and I met a lot of these people, but I was not able to talk to them as much as I would have liked. This year, I want to talk to them more.”

Riders and walkers interested in signing up to participate in Soldier Ride on July 25 can register online at http://soldierride.kintera.org/faf/home. The site is also available for those who wish to donate to the organization. Early registration will be held on July 18 and July 19 at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett and at the Windmill on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 267-3142.

Bridge Graffiti Art Will Stay

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Over a month ago, under the cloak of night, a lone graffiti artist spray painted an homage to a 19-year-old Sag Harbor resident killed in the line of duty in Iraq. Two weeks later, the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge, under which the graffiti artist penned the red, white and blue, Captain America-themed tribute, was officially renamed the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge. And now, this week, the state has announced that it will not seek to have the illegally painted mural removed, but instead will allow it to remain as another honor to Lance Corporal Haerter’s young life.

On Tuesday, December 2, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced that the mural would be allowed to stay, rather than be repainted by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). The bridge is state property, and is maintained by the NYSDOT.

“Certainly, the village does not condone defacing public property, but this is not a village owned structure so we have no authority,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris. “I am glad the memorial will stay and it is a tribute to Jordan. I hope it will be there as long as its integrity is still there.”

Following the mural’s creation, state officials had confirmed that they would allow the artistic display to remain under the bridge through the rededication ceremony honoring Lance Corporal Haerter on November 15. In addition to re-naming the bridge after the fallen marine, a granite obelisk memorial was also unveiled that stormy morning in Lance Corporal Haerter’s name next to Windmill Beach in Sag Harbor.

Lance Corporal Haerter was killed in Ramadi, Iraq on April 22 during his first month of duty as a Marine in overseas combat, along with Corporal Jonathan Yale of Meherrin, Virginia when a suicide bomber drove into the checkpoint they were guarding, detonating the vehicle.

Lance Corporal Haerter’s death had a profound effect on the Sag Harbor community, where he was raised by father Christian Haerter and mother JoAnn Lyles and graduated Pierson High School. The community gathered in collective mourning to welcome Lance Corporal Haerter’s body home in Sag Harbor, lining the streets and the cemetery, paying tribute to the sacrifice the young Marine made for his country.

And it seems another person, who remains anonymous, only known publicly by the tag “AMP 26” was also touched by Lance Corporal Haerter’s sacrifice, first spray painting a bench near the 19-year-old’s grave site with the words “thank you,” and then completing the mural weeks later. A man identifying himself as “AMP 26” called The Express office shortly after a police report indicated the spray painting of the bench was a “desecration.” “AMP26,” speaking through a device that changed the sound of his voice, maintained that his work was a “tribute,” not a desecration.

“AMP 26” is not unfamiliar to Sag Harbor Village Police or Southampton Town Police, who have logged numerous reports about graffiti in Sagaponack, Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, but have yet to catch the individual in the act.

The decision to allow the mural to stay, for now, said Thiele on Wednesday, was in part due to the effort of a letter writing campaign in support of the graffiti art.

“I had gotten somewhere between 20 and 30 letters requesting the mural be kept, mostly from Pierson High School,” said Thiele.

Thiele said he reached out to the New York State Department of Transportation after hearing reports that the mural would be removed as a part of regularly scheduled maintenance, but was informed the mural’s removal was not in fact imminent. Regardless, Thiele said he asked the NYSDOT for a commitment to allow the mural to stay as long as it is properly maintained.

“As long as it looks good and presentable, they will leave it be,” said Thiele.

Thiele said that the mural will remain as long as it is not defaced or begins to deteriorate. What will happen after that, he said, will depend on the wishes of community and government leaders in Sag Harbor.

“The mural is there to honor Jordan, and the person who put it there, that was their intention,” said Thiele. “If it is defaced or deteriorated it is not an honor anymore.”

“I understand the importance of the particular mural, to a family and a community that has endured an extremely painful loss. The artist is obviously very talented. I only wish he would use that talent in a more productive manner.”

Dedicating a Bridge In Jordan’s Honor

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Seven months ago, residents in the village stood solemnly by as one of their own, 19-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, was brought home to Sag Harbor and laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery.

On Saturday, November 15, village residents will gather again for Lance Corporal Haerter, this time not to say goodbye, but rather, to honor and pay tribute to the first Sag Harbor resident killed in combat since World War II.

A formal dedication and unveiling of a public memorial at the foot of the Sag Harbor/North Haven Bridge will be held on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. The bridge will also officially be renamed by the State of New York “The Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.”

Lance Corporal Haerter was killed in Ramadi, Iraq on April 22 during his first month of duty as a Marine overseas, along with Corporal Jonathan Yale of Meherrin, Virginia when a suicide bomber drove into the checkpoint they were guarding, detonating the vehicle. Lance Corporal Haerter and Corporal Yale are credited with saving the lives of 33 Marines that day, as well as over 50 Iraqi police officers when they shot and killed the driver of the deadly vehicle.

The news of Lance Corporal Haerter’s death rocked the East End, and in particular the Sag Harbor community in which the young Marine was raised by father Christian Haerter and mother JoAnn Lyles. His funeral came days after a police escort through Long Island brought his body back to Sag Harbor, with fire trucks and residents lining the streets along the route paying tribute to the Marine and the sacrifice he made to his country.

After a service at the Old Whalers’ Church, he was laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery with military honors, while the whole of the Sag Harbor community looked on, seemingly unaware of the rain pelting the ground around them that day.

Since then, the community and government leaders alike have rallied in support of the creation of a monument Lance Corporal Haerter’s honor. Designed on a concept by Christian Haerter and his childhood friend, Tom Toole, the monument will feature a granite obelisk and will be placed on the waterfront, next to Windmill Beach on land donated by the Village of Sag Harbor. The monument was created, according to Christian Haerter, through donations to the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Memorial Fund – a fund created specifically for the monument.

Simultaneously, in May, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle co-sponsored a state bill to rename the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge “The Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge,” honoring both Haerter and veterans before him.

“It is the intent of this act to recognize the ultimate sacrifice Jordan Haerter paid in serving his country and to honor all the veterans of Sag Harbor, North Haven and Noyac who have served our nation,” reads the bill, which passed both the assembly and the senate easily.

In July, after the villages of North Haven and Sag Harbor passed resolutions supporting the change, Governor David Paterson signed the bill into law.

On Saturday, as Christian Haerter put it, “the shroud will be lifted” on the sign at the foot of the bridge following the dedication of the monument on Windmill Beach and a ribbon cutting ceremony at the bridge.

According to Christian Haerter, veterans from the Sag Harbor area, representing each branch of service and major conflict, will take part in the ribbon cutting.

Depending on the weather, which is currently forecasting for rain, Haerter and Lyles have also planned a fly over of the bridge with four late-1950s vintage T-28 Navy aircraft. A Vietnam-era Marine helicopter will hover over the bridge during the ceremony, before flying to Mashashimuet Park where residents can view the historic aircraft. A luncheon has also been planned at the Sag Harbor Firehouse. Haerter said the Sag Harbor Fire Department has been an enormous help in helping to execute this special day for both his family and the community.

“We are just truly grateful they have offered us so much,” he said.

Perhaps one of the most special aspects of Saturday for Haerter will be that he and Lyles will share the day with not only family and friends, but also 41 members of Lance Corporal Haerter’s battalion – the first Battalion Ninth Marine Regiment. Members of the battalion, some of who were in Ramadi with Lance Corporal Haerter the day he was killed, will travel to Sag Harbor for the event; many on United States soil for the first time in months. According to Haerter the dedication was planned specifically to fall on a day those men could attend. A color guard from North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune is also slated to appear and Haerter expects veteran groups from across Long Island will also attend the service.

“We still have a lot of little things to do,” said Haerter on Wednesday. “I think we are pretty organized, but we really have to thank Tom Toole, retired from the Air Force and a childhood friend, who really took it upon himself to make sure this got done. He has known Jordan since he was a child and has a lot of heart invested in this.”

For Haerter, planning the event with Lyles has been a whirlwind and he said on Wednesday he has not had time to think about any private time he will take to remember his son on Saturday.

“Most of my day is taken up with thoughts of Jordan,” he said. “Saturday will be a very special day – just to see the honor that Jordan will receive, that his sacrifice is not going unnoticed. It is all about this local community. They have been just wonderful throughout this whole time, since Jordan died. The support has been absolutely amazing. But, yeah, I don’t know if I will do anything private for Jordan. I just know I think about him every minute, of every day.”

The dedication of the bridge and the monument in honor of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Windmill Beach at the base of the bridge in Sag Harbor. The Hampton Jitney has donated a shuttle bus the family is encouraging people to use that will depart Mashashimuet Park starting at 9:30 a.m. through 10:30 a.m. and will return following the ceremony. Ferry Road will be closed from the North Haven Roundabout to the bridge from 10 a.m. to noon and Bay Street will be closed from the American Legion to the bridge from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 

No Computer, But a Memory

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Two weeks before his son Jordan was killed at a military checkpoint in the Anbar Province of Iraq in April, Christian Haerter was tinkering with a broken, laptop computer. His son shipped it back to the states in hope his father could fix it, and he did. It didn’t take his father long either. He simply ordered a part, replaced it and shipped the laptop back to his son, one week before he died.
Since Jordan’s death the computer has been going back and forth from Ramadi, where he was stationed as a Marine, to the central, military post office in Kuwait. For some reason it had not made it back to the Haerter family. But Lieutenant Colonel Bourne made it his mission to return the computer to Sag Harbor.
“I think he was embarrassed and frustrated they couldn’t get it to us,” said Jordan’s mother JoAnn Lyles.
The Lieutenant Colonel decided to take matters into his own hands and ordered 21-year old Lance Corporal Cody Israel, who served in the same platoon as Haerter and who was at the checkpoint the day it was breached by a suicide bomber, to deliver the computer in person to Jordan’s family.
Israel arrived in Sag Harbor last Thursday. He flew from Ramadi to Kuwait to Ireland, to Atlanta and then to New York. He was deputized as a postal courier before he left the Middle East which allowed him to travel through customs without opening the package.
“I saw him walking up the driveway with the package and my first thought was, it’s been pretty much destroyed or it’s not the correct package,” said Christian.
It was the latter. Instead of the computer, it was a care package that Jordan’s mother mailed to him one week before he passed away.
“There was a copy of the Sag harbor Express, the missing Marine issue. He wanted to know what was happening with Maggie [McMahon],” said Lyles. “There was a first textbook for police training.”
Jordan had aspirations of returning to Sag Harbor to be a police officer.
“There was a book light and then just mints and stuff.”
Neither of Jordan’s parents was upset about the missing computer. With L/Cpl. Israel only an arm’s length away, the computer seemed trivial. Cody and Jordan were more than just fellow Marines; they were roommates at Camp Lejeune, which meant they knew everything about each other. Israel also knew exactly what happened on the day Jordan died.
“When I first met with him, it was pretty emotional,” said Christian. “He was actually in the compound that day when Jordan was killed and there’s not a lot of people who can say that. It’s important to me to be able to speak to somebody who was that close when the incident happened.”
Christian said Cody told him that after the breach, there was no time to grieve, that the platoon essentially worked for five days straight just trying to secure the compound.
He said he sensed the trip was not easy for Israel, who is from Church Pointe, Louisiana, a small town west of Baton Rouge. Israel told Christian that when he was in the Atlanta airport waiting for his flight to New York, he looked up at one of the departure screens and noticed a flight to New Orleans.
“He said he thought, ‘Oh it’s so close’,” said Christian.
The trip to the states was the first time Israel had left Iraq since he shipped out in March. But because of the short notice, the cost of air travel, and the job his mother works back in Louisiana, Israel’s parents were unable to make the trip up to see him while he was in Sag Harbor. And then there’s the fact that Israel had to leave his fellow Marines to come here.
“I don’t think he really wanted to come. They form a pretty tight bond and he didn’t want to actually leave them,” said Christian. “I can only imagine it must be extremely difficult to go from 135 degree heat, walking the streets of Ramadi, to laying on the beach in the Hamptons and then having to go back.”
Christian and JoAnn tried to make the three-day visit to Sag Harbor as comfortable as possible for Israel, primarily by feeding him.
“We tried our best to stuff him,” said Christian.
On Thursday they took Israel to Il Capuccino. On Friday, it was La Superica with Nicole Jonat, Jordan’s girlfriend. After that, they went to Long Beach. To her surprise, Lyles said a group of Jordan’s old classmates showed up to meet Israel. They traded stories about Jordan as the sun set over Noyac Bay.
“He told us how they used to play tricks on Jordan back at camp,” said Lyles. “They would tell him they had the day off, and would watch him get all dressed in his [civilian clothes] and then laugh at him.”
On Saturday they had a small cook-out at Lyle’s house where they tried to stuff Israel even more.
“We had swordfish, and ribs and chicken wings. There was a little bit of everything,” said Lyles.
Then they took him to the recently dedicated Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge. And on Sunday Israel flew back to Iraq.
As far as the computer goes, Lyles chalked it up to the military’s strict protocol for casualty mail. Israel was never told what he was carrying.
She said meeting him was “priceless.”
“I could not believe he came,” said Lyles. “It felt so good to hug him. I gave him a hug to give all of the guys back in Iraq. It had to be a hard job for him, knowing the circumstances, but he did good.”
“It was more important for me to be able to sit down and talk with Cody and first, make sure he was okay and to make sure all of the guys that were over there with Jordan were okay.”

Photo: L/Cpl Cody Israel traveled from Iraq to bring a package to the parents of L/Cpl Jordan Haerter.

Soldiers Ride For Jordan

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For Chris Carney, the personal trainer who made the inaugural Soldier Ride trek cross country in 2004, dedicating this year’s Empire State Challenge to Sag Harbor resident Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter is the least the organization can do to honor his memory.

“Jordan and many of his fellow Marines have paid the ultimate price, and at the very least I feel the greatest thing we can do to honor him is take care of the soldiers we take care of every year through this organization,” said Carney on Tuesday. “We are in Jordan’s backyard — it’s the natural thing to do, but still, I do feel we just can’t do enough.”

On Saturday, July 26 the Wounded Warrior Project’s Solider Ride Empire State Challenge, Manhattan to Montauk will culminate with a local cycling and walking event from Amagansett to Montauk in memory of Lance Cpl. Haerter. Haerter, a 2006 Pierson High School graduate, was killed outside the city of Ramadhi in Iraq in April. The 19-year-old U.S. Marine 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.

The trek will begin at the American Legion in Amagansett and end at the Montauk Point Lighthouse, where Carney began and ended his cross-country journeys, which raised millions for the Wounded Warrior organization.

Wounded Warrior is a non-profit organization founded by Joe Melia to provide support for U.S. servicemen and women — whether it be their signature backpacks filled with toiletries, amenities and clothing for wounded soldiers returning to United States, outreach, career counseling, advocacy, family and coping services.

In 2004 Carney completed his first cross-country cycle to support the organization under the newly created banner of Soldier Ride. Stephen Talkhouse owner Peter Honerkamp helped coordinate the event and continues to do so through The Talkhouse offices.

In 2005, Soldier Ride evolved, and Staff Sergeants Heath Calhoun, and Ryan Kelley and other combat wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan joined Carney for the grueling trek, beginning Soldier Ride’s commitment to providing rehabilitative sporting events for wounded men and women returning from combat overseas.

“One of the great things is, first of all, it takes soldiers out of the hospital who’ve just suffered traumatic injuries,” said Honerkamp. “It empowers them and also sets an example for the incoming wounded.”

Soldier Ride has continued to evolve to focus on smaller regional rides in an effort to allow more participants.  The Empire State Challenge is the first event the general public will be able to join in, whether they opt to take on the 62-mile trek, a 35-mile challenge or a four-mile walk.

“The studs will go the 65, other people the 35 and then there’s a walk as well,” said Honerkamp.

In addition to a number of servicemen and women, as well as regional race participants, five Israeli soldiers from the second Lebanon war will be riding. It is the second year Israeli soldiers have joined in a Soldier Ride event after the organization was contacted through Friends of the Israeli Defense Fund.

Haerter’s parents, JoAnn Lyles and Chris Haerter will both walk in the event under a Team Jordan banner, which as of press time had raised over $7,500, almost a fifth of the $50,000 the event hopes to generate. Total donations had topped $27,000 by Wednesday afternoon.

Lyles expects some of Jordan’s Pierson High School classmate to join her at the event, as well as Corporal Christopher Scherer’s family. Corporal Scherer was an East Northport resident who was killed by a sniper bullet in 2007. The Scherer family came to Lance Corporal Haerter’s wake, remembered Lyles.

“It’s a sad club to belong to, but we’re Gold Star parents,” she said. “You get in touch that way … They know what we’re going through.”

Event registration for the Soldier Ride Empire State Challenge will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the American Legion Post on Route 27 in Amagansett, with opening ceremonies and the race beginning at 10 a.m. The cost is $50 for adults, $25 for children 15 and under. For more information, call 267-3142.

Written by Kathryn G. Menu with additional reporting by John Bayles.