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January 15, 2014

Call The President



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(click for larger version)
Today's the day Joi Jackson Perle hopes people will make a call to the White House, urging President Barack Obama to give the Medal of Honor to Jordan Haerter and Jonathan Yale.

Earlier this month, Perle launched a petition drive on the website change.org, asking the president to "recognize the brave actions of Jordan Haerter and Jonathan Yale as they gave their lives while saving dozens of others in Iraq."

As most locals know, Haerter, a Sag Harbor native, was standing guard at a Joint Security Station in the Sophia district of Ramadi on the morning of April 22, 2008, when a suicide bomber attacked. The driver of a large truck approaching the security station ignored commands to stop.

When the truck failed to stop, Haerter and Yale opened fire until the vehicle exploded, claiming their lives.

The two young men died saving marines, police, and civilians inside the compound.

"Recognizing the danger to their fellow marines and partnered Iraqi police, Cpl Yale and Lance Cpl Haerter fearlessly gave their lives in their defense," an official after-action report states.

Earlier this year, another effort looking to petition the president on behalf of the heroic pair, was circulated through the White House by a Virginia resident, but the number of signatures required (100,000) and the deadline (one month) was too daunting. It was due to expire soon after Perle and Jordan's mother, JoAnn Lyles, learned of it.

"The We the People petition deadline came and went, and I thought that was that," said Lyles. "I was glad that it spread Jordan's and Jonathan's story of heroism across the nation and was happy with that result, even though the petition failed."

She continued, "Joi had something else in mind . . . she said 'she's only just begun!' She started a new petition with maybe a less foreboding platform at change.org."

A Wainscott resident, Perle never knew Jordan. She met Lyles two years ago when she was preparing to participate in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington, DC, and was asked to run under the Team Jordan banner. Since then she's become friends with the Gold Star mom.

Asked why she decided to spearhead the petition effort, Perle said, "I only have one child, and he's a son . . . I can't imagine losing my son, he's everything to me."

Haerter received a prodigious array of medals and acknowledgements both during his life and after his death. The bridge in Sag Harbor was named for him, and he was the recipient of the Navy Cross Medal, the second highest medal that can be awarded for valor. Additional accolades include the Purple Heart, Combat Action ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, and a Good Conduct Medal.

The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military honor. Since its creation in 1861 only some 3400 of them have been awarded. It is usually presented by the president at an official ceremony.

"The kid deserves the recognition of the Medal of Honor," Perle said Monday. "It won't bring him back, but it could provide some closure."

Within three days of its launch last week, the petition garnered over 1000 signatures. To participate in the phone call effort or sign the petition, visit www.change.org/.../the-president-of-the-united-states-award-the-medal-of- honor-to-jordan-haerter-and-jonathan-yale or go to change.org, and search Jordan Haerter.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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