Congressman Tim Bishop announced on Sunday that he introduced legislation on Thursday to request that fallen Sag Harbor Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter be awarded a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor. The bill follows a grass roots effort and petition asking that Haerter and Marine Corporal Jonathan Yale (of Burkeville, Virginia) receive the U.S. Military’s highest honor for their heroics and ultimate sacrifice to save fellow soldiers and Iraqi police while defending a checkpoint in Ramadi from a suicide bomber in 2008. Both men have already received the Navy Cross, the military’s second highest honor for valor.
Flanked on either side by Haerter’s parents, Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles, and Assemblyman Fred Thiele at the Sag Harbor American Legion’s Chelberg-Battle post, Bishop said that Haerter and Yale are “richly deserving” of the Navy Cross, but he and other supporters of the bill want the young Marines to receive every possible consideration for the Medal of Honor. “This legislation will begin that process,” Bishop explained, noting that, if all goes well, the bill would be reviewed by the House Arms Services Committee, followed by the Pentagon and then finally by President Obama.
Speaking to the assorted community members, including American Legion members, Cub Scouts, local politicians, press and veterans, the Congressman acknowledged that the bill’s outcome is uncertain, but it ensures a fair review for recognition of Haerter and Yale’s “incredible, incredible acts of selflessness and heroism.” Yale’s Representative Robert Hurt of Virginia cosponsored the legislation.
Just 19 years old on April 22, 2008, Haerter made a split-second decision to sacrifice his own safety—and life, ultimately—in order to save the lives of dozens of others. As a suicide bomber with a truck full of explosives sped toward his position, and the Iraqis around him fled, Haerter (and Yale) opened fire, killing the driver and stopping his truck from exploding inside Joint Security Station Nasser, where many more would have been killed. Unfortunately, in doing this, the truck detonated just short of Haerter and Yale, and they were unable to escape the blast.
“In Sag Harbor, we all knew Jordan Haerter, and in our hearts he’s already won the Congressional Medal of Honor,” Thiele said following Bishop’s remarks. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Jordan is deserving of the Medal of Honor,” he said, then, to Haerter’s parents, added, “People haven’t forgotten your son and what he did for this country.”
After some words of thanks from Christian Haerter, who recognized supportive local veterans, Bishop thanked Haerter and Lyles for “raising an extraordinary young man.”
Phil Como, a Seacliff Vietnam veteran and one of the petitioners for Haerter and Yale to receive the Medal of Honor, said there is “a moral imperative” to see that the fallen Marines are recognized for their actions. “These two magnificent Marines in six seconds had to make the decision to save 50 Marines and Iraqi staff,” Como said. “So many lives have been changed because these young men made a decision to follow orders and protect,” he added describing the multitude of people who would have been affected by the deaths of all those Haerter and Yale saved that day.
With this in mind, Como asks the Pentagon, “Are you sure you did the right thing?”
Along with the Navy Cross, both Haerter and Yale were also awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Iraqi Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. In addition, Haerter was posthumously awarded a Southampton Town Police Department badge, a Sag Harbor Police Department Gold badge, and the Suffolk County Medal for Distinguished Military Service.