Efforts are underway to award fallen Sag Harbor Marine and hero Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor in Iraq.
On April 22, 2008, moments before he was killed defending a checkpoint in Ramadi, 19-year-old Haerter made a split-second decision to put the lives of dozens of others before his own. As a suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with explosives careened toward his position, and the Iraqis around him fled, the young hero and fellow Marine Corporal Jonathan Yale chose not to run and instead opened fire, killing the driver and stopping his truck from exploding inside Joint Security Station Nasser, where many more would have been killed. Unfortunately, the truck halted just short of Haerter and Yale, and they could not escape the blast.
According to General John Kelly, 24 brick houses were damaged or destroyed by the bomb, which would have killed some 150 Iraqis and Marines if not for the selfless bravery of Haerter and Yale.
For their valor, both Haerter and Yale were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest military decoration a Marine can receive for extraordinary heroism in combat (equivalent to the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross). The Sag Harbor/North Haven Bridge was also renamed in Haerter’s honor. Now a petition has been started for Haerter and Yale to receive the military’s most prestigious decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Haerter’s father Christian Haerter shared the petition shortly after he was made aware of it Thursday. “I received an email this morning from Captain Dan Runzheimer (ret) who was Jordan’s commanding officer in Iraq at the time Jordan was killed,” Haerter said, explaining that Runzheimer asked if he had seen the petition and directed him to it online. “I don’t know who started the petition and am unclear exactly how the medal determination is made, Haerter said, adding, “I do know that after Jordan and Jonathan were killed there was quite a bit of chatter across the internet amongst current and retired Marines wondering why they had not been awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions that fateful morning.”
The petition, started on December 6 by someone with the initials “G.F.” out of Alexandria, VA, is seeking 100,000 signatures by its January 5 deadline. As of Thursday afternoon (December 19), it had collected 742 names—including many from East End villages and towns—but a deficit of 99,258 “signatures” remains with just three week to go. A petition must get 150 signatures to be publicly searchable on the White House website.
Anyone interested in signing the petition can find it on whitehouse.gov, where it is posted along with social media links for sharing and an official description of Haerter and Yale’s heroics.
“Personally, while I am extremely proud of Jordan being awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism, medals do not make the man or woman and anyone who has ever been in battle should be held in the same high esteem for their own personal valor,” Haerter said of his son. “Both Jordan and Jonathan died protecting their Marine brothers and they both live on through them,” he continued. “If the Medal of Honor is what it takes to keep their tragic story and heroic legacy alive, than so be it.”
The most recent Medal of Honor awarded went to Army Captain William D. Swenson on October 15, for his “exceptional leadership and stout resistance against the enemy during six hours of continuous fighting” in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. The last posthumous Medal of Honor was awarded to Chaplain Emil Joseph Kapaun on April 11, 2013 for his “extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty” during the Korean War.
To add your name to this plea for the Obama Administration to award Haerter and Yale the Congressional Medal of Honor, signers must register on the “We the People – Your Voice in Our Government” petition section at whitehouse.gov.
Watch the CBS News video below to see more about the heroic, lifesaving acts by Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter and Corporal Jonathan Yale in Iraq.