On Saturday, July 20, the Wounded Warrior Project will come to the Hamptons to honor the life and heroism of United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jordan Christian Haerter, who was killed in action at the age of 19 in Ramadi, Iraq. The Wounded Warrior Project will sponsor Soldier Ride The Hamptons, in which wounded soldiers (“Wounded Warriors”) participate in a cycling event and 5K Walk in both Amagansett and Sag Harbor. Corporal Haerter, a Sag Harbor resident, died in 2008 along with another Corporal, 21-year-old Jonathan T. Yale, as they stopped a truck bomber from reaching the post they were protecting, saving 33 Marines and 21 Iraqi police inside the post’s compound.
The Wounded Warrior Project, formed in 2002, is a nonprofit organization that aims to raise awareness and public participation in the needs of injured servicemen and women. Its motto, “The greatest casualty is being forgotten,” is especially potent in the case of Corporal Haerter, who was born in Southampton and raised in Sag Harbor. A graduate of Stella Maris Pre-School, Sag Harbor Elementary School and Pierson High School Class of 2006, Corporal Haerter became a member of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, also known as “The Walking Dead.” Corporal Haerter was posthumously given the Purple Heart Medal and Combat Action Ribbon, as well as the Iraqi Campaign Medal, Iraqi Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Navy Cross. His death in 2008 was a great tragedy, but his legacy lives on, thanks to his family and a tight-knit community dedicated to keeping his memory and selfless final act of heroism alive.
Two nonprofit organizations have formed in Corporal Haerter’s name, both run by members of his family. Jordan’s Initiative aims to help current members of the military, as well as veterans, who are in need of assistance in various ways. Jordan’s Honor, Ltd., is a scholarship program run by Corporal Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles. “This year, one of the recipients sent a wonderful thank you note saying Jordan’s heroism made her want to help others and influenced her choice to pursue criminal justice,” said Lyles. In Jordan’s Honor is sponsoring the Soldier Ride and Walk, and both organizations host several events throughout the year. “The naming of the ride, in honor of Jordan, was an extra special gift,” says Lyles. “I’m humbled and proud to learn so many more people now know his heroism, because of Soldier Ride. I’m glad that the awareness of Jordan draws more people to join Soldier Ride. The 5K walks were added to help more people participate.”
It’s impossible to fathom the death of such a young man, even one who died so valiantly, but Soldier Ride and 5K Walk will not be a somber day. The walk will take participants over the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, with live music in Sag Harbor by the Keyboard Charles Notturno Band. There will be a barbecue for participants and T-shirts and other items for sale. All donations for the event will go to the scholarship fund and to fund support events benefiting troops and Veterans. “You’ll find veterans, American Legion, VFW, military families, athletes, bike enthusiasts, Fire Departments, Police groups, civic groups, clubs, scouts and patriots, some as active participants, some there as spectators and support,” Lyles says.
We hope to see you there!
The Wounded Warrior event will be July 20 in Sag Harbor and Amagansett. For more information on Soldier Ride The Hamptons, go to woundedwarriorproject.com. For more on In Jordan’s Honor, go to injordanshonor.com, and for more on Jordan’s Initiative visit jordansinitiative.com.