Tag Archive | "Marines"

Petition Seeks Medal of Honor for Haerter

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Christian Haerter holding some of his late son Jordan's medals and commendations on Monday.

Christian Haerter holding some of his late son Jordan’s medals and commendations on Monday. (Photo by Michael Heller).

By Kathryn G. Menu

Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter and Marine Corporal Jonathan Yale are credited with saving the lives of over a hundred Marines and Iraqi soldiers in a 2008 attack that claimed the lives of both young men.

Five years later, over 1,600 people have signed a petition urging the White House to award both men the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in the country, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty.

On April 22, 2008, Lance Cpl. Haerter — a native of Sag Harbor — and Cpl. Yale took their guard post at the Joint Security Station Nasser in Ramadi, Iraq. Lance Cpl. Haerter was a rifleman with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines and at the age of 19 had just arrived in Iraq for a seven-month tour of duty two days before. Cpl. Yale, 21, from Virginia, was a rifleman with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines and was reportedly showing Haerter the ropes.

Shortly after taking their post, a blue truck loaded with 2,000 pounds of explosives began speeding through the concrete barriers towards the two Marines, who immediately responded by shooting at the vehicle, which was manned by a suicide bomber. The truck stopped short and detonated, killing both men, but their actions are credited with saving the lives of 150 Marines and Iraqi police officers.

It is for their act of valor the petition was started on December 6 by an Alexandria, Virginia resident — the identity of whom remains a mystery to even Haerter’s own parents, Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles.

“I actually found out about it Thursday,” said Haerter this week. At that point, the petition had just 600 signatures, but since both Haerter and Lyles began promoting the post — along with others who knew Lance Cpl. Haerter or Cpl. Yale — that number has grown rapidly. The petition aims to collect 100,000 signatures by January 5, 2014.

Lance Cpl. Haerter was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross Medal, the second highest military decoration for valor that can be awarded to a member of the United States Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. He also earned a Purple Heart medal, Combat Action ribbon, Iraqi Campaign medal, Iraqi Service medal, Good Conduct medal, National Defense medal and Sea Service Deployment ribbon.

On Friday, Haerter said that while he was unaware who was pushing for his son and Cpl. Yale to receive the Medal of Honor, he has begun supporting the idea by asking others to sign the petition. That being said, Haerter added it would likely be through another avenue, for example the support of a member of Congress or military official that would initiate a formal review.

“As far as I am concerned there is no medal that is going to bring Jordan back,” said Haerter. “If he was awarded the Medal of Honor, for me that just extends his legacy because obviously a person who is the recipient of a Medal of Honor is talked about for years to come as it is such a rare honor. Anything I can do to keep him in people’s minds is a positive, but for me, I think they should all get a medal like this.”

There have been just 3,468 Medals of Honor awarded to servicemen and women since it was first created in 1861.

Lyles, who has been spreading the word about the petition through Facebook, first heard about it through social media, while checking in with Cpl. Yale’s mother, Rebecca.

“She doesn’t know who started it either,” said Lyles on Friday.

Lyles said she also reached out to Susan Keophila, who was serving in Ramadi when Lance Cpl. Haerter and Cpl. Yale were killed in the suicide bomber blast. Keophila, now retired from the Army, has sent letters and documentation calling for the Marines to be awarded the Medal of Honor to her Congressman in Virginia since she returned from Iraq, said Lyles. While Keophila also said she was not responsible for starting the petition, Lyles said she is grateful for whoever did.

“Maybe it just ensures he is remembered longer,” she said. “It would make sure his name is known much longer than our lives.”

On Friday, Congressman Tim Bishop said rarely is a review ordered through the aid of a member of Congress, but that it can be done. It is not a binding request nor is there legislation attached to it, he added.

“I have not been asked to do so by Cpl. Yale’s family or Jordan’s family, but if I am I certainly would,” said Bishop.


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

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ceremony honoring Jordan haerter

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.”