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.