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08-09-07, 07:34 AM
Wounded veterans honored
Silver Stars given to 17 soldiers by governor, military
August 09, 2007 6:00 AM

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Seventeen wounded veterans of present and past wars have received medals honoring their sacrifices from Maine's governor and top military commander.

Of the veterans who received medals during a State House ceremony Tuesday, nine were wounded in Iraq, two during World War II, three during the Korean War and three during the Vietnam War.

"We're a band of brothers — he who sheds blood with me or for me is my brother," said one of the recipients, Jack Stearns of East Vassalboro. The Korean War veteran is also a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

This is the second year the State of Maine Silver Star Honorable Service Medals have been presented. Gov. John Baldacci and Maj. Gen. John Libby, the adjutant general of the Maine National Guard, made the presentations.

Spc. Christopher Fraser, 21, accepted the award a year after an attack in Iraq left him with a severely burned foot, nerve damage and hearing loss. His injuries have resulted in four surgeries.

"I'm keeping busy and getting fixed up," said Fraser, of Windsor, who still walks with crutches. Fraser survived an attack that killed a fellow Mainer, Staff Sgt. Dale James Kelly Jr. of Richmond, and Sgt. David Veverka, a University of Maine student from Pennsylvania.

Lance Cpl. Ryan Doyle of Durham, whose hand was hit by a bullet in April 2004 during an ambush in Fallujah, Iraq, said it was important the awards recognized those injured in prior wars.

"If it was just for us, I'd think that was disrespectful to all those before us," said Doyle, who served with the Marines from October 2001 to October 2005.

"I think the fact that they honored those from other eras is great."

Baldacci said honoring the veterans is just one small thing he can do for Maine's soldiers.

"They fought the battles overseas and put their lives on the line, but when they came home, they had to face another battle to get the benefits and services owed to them," he said.

Other recipients from the Iraq war include Spc. Fredrick Allen of Pittsfield; Pvt. Richard Bond of Springvale, Sgt. Nathan Burke of Canaan, Sgt. Christopher Cruciotti of West Gardiner, Sgt. Matthew Pennington of Winterport, Senior Airman Nicholas Prunell of Etna and Sgt. Paul Shelmerdine of Warren.

World War II recipients were Robert Baker of Windsor and Estol McClintock of Wellington.

Other Korean War recipients were Richard Chick of Winthrop and Kenneth Cyphers of Hallowell.

Vietnam veterans honored include Gary I. Laweryson of Waldoboro, John Moore of Brewer and Randy Worthley of Winslow.

Two veterans injured in Iraq, Lance Cpl. Thomas Adametz of Winslow and Sgt. George Greene of Dexter, did not attend.