Families of Fallen Marines Honored with Kentucky "Medal for Freedom"

"Medal for Freedom" Presentations 2009

Frankfort, Kentucky, March 13, 2009: Governor Steve Beshear presented Kentucky "Medals for Freedom" to the families of 15 Kentucky military members who have died in combat while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. "We are here because 15 men died violently thousands of miles from here - died on our behalf and on behalf of all who support right and good in the world," Governor Beshear said. "We are here to honor them, but in so doing we are reminded again of how much they are missed." Wives, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and grandparents, children from babes in arms to young adults stood one family at a time to receive the Medals honoring their loved ones. Assisting Governor Beshear with medal presentations to families of fallen Marines was Colonel David J. Clement, USMCR, Deputy Chief of Staff, Marine Forces Europe, who also serves our regional Marine Corps community as president of the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky (MCCCK). Marine Corps veterans throughout Kentucky were represented by MSgt Louis F. Drawdy, USMC (Ret), Commandant, Marine Corps League, Department of Kentucky and Jerry Paul, Senior Vice Commandant, Marine Corps League, William J. Norris Detachment #804, Owensboro, Kentucky, who comforted families of fallen Marines. Standing in the Capitol Building rotunda, within the shadow of a magnificent statue of Abraham Lincoln, Governor Beshear commented that "There is much hardship and misery in this world, and free people everywhere are threatened by those who would take that freedom away, who would drape this world in a cloak of darkness. But I do not fret and I will not despair, because the power of our enemies pales in the face of the kind of courage, sacrifice, and dedication to duty demonstrated by these men. This medal is a testament not only to the sacrifice of these soldiers but also to the sacrifice of their families, without whose support their service would not have been possible."

In 2008, the General Assembly authorized the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA) to present the Kentucky Medal for Freedom to the family of each Kentuckian killed on active duty in a combat-related incident on or after January 1, 1991. Among those honored were the families of the following fallen Marines:

CPL Nicholas J. Dieruf, US Marine Corps; Versailles, KY 
LCPL Thomas P. Echols, US Marine Corps; Shepherdsville, KY 
LCPL Robert A. Lynch, US Marine Corps; Louisville, KY 
CAPT Eric D. Terhune, US Marine Corps; Lexington, KY 
CPL Christopher T. Warndorf, US Marine Corps; Burlington, KY

(Photographs of this event, taken by 1stLt Andrea C. Hahn, KNG, Public Affairs Officer and Ed Armento, MCCCK, can be can be viewed in the "Galleries" section of this Web site.)