View Full Version : Marines honored for heroic service

07-08-03, 06:01 AM
Marines honored for heroic service

Sat, Jul 5, 2003

By Steph Price

Truth Staff

ELKHART -- Chad Stutsman came to Rice Field on Friday for what must have been the hundredth time. It was the only time, though, he was there as a local hero.

Stutsman, 24, was one of five local U.S. Marine Corps reservists honored before fireworks celebrations. He is a 1997 Central High School graduate and spent many a gym class on the field.

"This is exciting," said Stutsman. "I mean, that's where I went to school, and now I'm here for this."

Elkhart Mayor David Miller gave the men, all of Elkhart, specially made medals for their service in Iraq. The engineering company, based out of South Bend, returned home last month after serving several months in the war.

Several more Elkhart Marine reservists will accept medals at Monday's City Council meeting.

Also attending Friday in fatigues were Vince Doczy, Jim Wrathell, Ryan Erb and Laureano Santos. Doczy, Wrathell and Erb all graduated in 1999 from Jimtown High School and joined the reservist unit together.

The men were appreciative of the recognition.

"This is still exciting," said Doczy, a leader in the unit. Since their return, the men have been honored in several ways, including a full-fledged parade in downtown South Bend.

"I greatly appreciate all of this," said Wrathell. "We were just doing our job."

Company B remains on active duty until July 25. Then, the men can return to their respective lives, which include college and work.

Several people of all ages stopped to talk to the men, who sat in chairs on the track.

Gene Eller, who served in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1967, said he just wanted to let the Marines know he was thankful.

"They did a good job and I'm proud of them," said Eller, of Elkhart. "They need to know that."

The men said they were humbled by the accolades. Their experiences in Iraq changed them, they said, and made them more appreciative of luxuries in the United States.

"I'll never be hot or bored again," said Stutsman. The men endured temperatures upward of 120 degrees.

The mayor shook all the men's hands, thanking them for their service.

"Gentlemen?" asked the mayor. "Where is Saddam Hussein? He's not in power any more because these men are," he said.

The Rice Field crowd gave the men a roaring standing ovation.

Contact Steph Price at sprice@etruth.com.


Truth Photo By Fred Flury

Medal winners: Marines that received a medal from the city are (from left) Cpl. James H. Wrathell, Pvt. First Class Vincent M. Doczy, Lance Cpl. Ryan E. Erb and Gunnery Sgt. Laureano Santos. x