View Full Version : Stonington honors wounded Marine

06-30-07, 05:47 AM
June 28: Stonington honors wounded Marine
(Created: Thursday, June 28, 2007 10:42 AM EDT)
Ashley St. Pierre

Here is the story of Marine Sgt. Justin Clough, who received a Purple Heart in a VFW ceremony Pawcatuck in May.

PAWCATUCK - "He is probably the best Marine I have ever met."

Those are the words Marine 1st Lt. Joseph Calore used to describe Marine Sgt. Justin Clough, a former unit commander in Calore's platoon, before Clough received a Purple Heart Tuesday afternoon at the Pawcatuck VFW.

Clough, who lives in Pawcatuck, was wounded in Iraq when a sniper's bullet ripped through his hips the day after Christmas last year. Clough's twin brother and fellow Marine Nathaniel, along with Calore and two members from his unit there when Clough was wounded traveled from Camp Lejeune, N. C., to award Clough his Purple Heart.

" I couldn't ask for more," Justin said of comrades from his unit presenting him with the honor. " These are guys I served with, guys I have gone into harm's way with."

They are also some of the guys who were there on the fateful day late last year just north of Camp Fallujah, when a suspicious looking car stopped as Justin Clough's unit was on routine patrol.

As the occupants of the car were being questioned, a bullet entered Clough's right hip and exited his left.

It was Lance Cpl. Aaron Ledet who pulled Clough from the ground after being struck by the bullet and into a Humvee, out of the line of fire. Ledet was there to help in awarding Clough the Purple Heart Tuesday.

" That was a bad day," Ledet said of the day Clough was shot. " But it is definitely an honor to be here to give him the Purple Heart."

Justin Clough said receiving the Purple Heart from his unit commander, brother, and men that he led was better than being awarded it by a general.

" These are guys I served with. Guys that know me," he said.

" I'm excited. I'm just happy I could be here," said Clough's twin brother Nathaniel.

Justin Clough is also nominated for a Bronze Star with a V for valor for combat actions taken in Iraq.

Nathaniel and the family tried to keep the ceremony a surprise, but Justin soon got wise to what was going on. Nathaniel had been telling Justin orders had not come down for the recognition, when in fact plans were being made to surprise him.

Calore described Clough as the type of unit commander that could be counted on to complete any task.

After Clough was wounded, Calore told him if there was anything he could ever do for him to let him know.

Clough did not have to ask. Calore decided he wanted to be present when Clough received his Purple Heart.

Lance Cpl. Kenneth Salter described Clough as a good leader. " As a squad leader he was someone to look up to," Ledet said.

During the brief ceremony, Nathaniel Clough read the citation accompanying the medal. The actual Purple Heart was passed from Ledet, to Salter, to Nathaniel Clough to Calore. The Clough twins, 22, both joined the Marines immediately after completing high school in Portland, Maine, seeking a challenge. This June will mark their fourth year as Marines.

While the Clough twins served in the military, the family moved from Maine to Pawcatuck, where their father took work with the Garbo Lobster Company in Groton.

Friends, family, members of the VFW and a representative from the office of U. S. Rep. Joe Courtney attended the event.

When Justin Clough was wounded, he was five- and- a- half months into his third tour of duty in the Middle East.

Justin Clough continues to recover from the injuries he sustained from the sniper attack. There are some small bumps in the road to recovery, Justin said, but all and all things are going well. Clough said he wanted to thank the local community for its support.

" It was a pleasure to serve with you," Nathaniel Clough said to his brother. " We are brothers with two bonds. Brothers by blood and brothers in arms."

The Purple Heart was established by George Washington in Newburgh, N. Y., in 1782.