A petition filed on the White House website, which had garnered more than 1,672 signatures by early Monday afternoon, is seeking to posthumously award Sag Harbor native Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in the country.
In the early morning hours of April 22, 2008, Mr. Haerter and Corporal Jonathan Yale of Virginia were at a guard post protecting their platoon’s camp in Iraq, when an oil tanker driven by suicide bombers barreled toward the camp’s entrance.
While Iraqi guards also stationed at the post fled, the two Marines stood their ground and kept firing at the driver. Because they stayed and fought, the truck was unable to penetrate the barrier, exploding just outside the guard post. The two Marines were killed instantly.
The blast destroyed 24 surrounding homes. The two Marines were the only ones killed, and their actions saved 150 comrades, according to the petition.
The petition was filed on December 6 by someone with the initials G.F. in Mr. Yale’s home state. It seeks 100,000 signatures to put the two recipients of posthumous Navy Cross medals, the second-highest military decoration awarded to a member of the United States Navy, on a path toward the nation’s top honor.
“I was very surprised to see the petition. I saw it on Jonathan’s mother’s Facebook,” said Joanne Lyles, Jordan’s mother. “I don’t think she knows who it is from either. We know nothing more than anyone else. It would be a great honor if it happened, but the Navy Cross is a fine award either way. We’re honored by the continued thoughts and remembrances.”
“I just found out about this petition this morning,” said Christian Haerter, Jordan’s father and founder of Jordan’s Initiative, which honors his son’s valor. “I don’t know who started this push. I got an email from one of Jordan’s commanders in Iraq with a link to the petition, but I don’t know much about it.”
Adding that he doesn’t know if an online whitehouse.gov petition will have any bearing on what can be an insular decision-making process, the senior Mr. Haerter said he would be honored if it did succeed and that he will lend his support to the push.
“There was a question, not on our end but by a lot of Marines and retired Marines who were affected by what he did for his brothers, about whether or not he should’ve received the Medal of Honor from the get-go,” Mr. Haerter said. “He got the Navy Cross, which itself is a huge honor. We’ll see where this goes.”
As impressive as 100,000 signatures would be, the number appears to be arbitrary, as there is a strict protocol followed when awarding Medals of Honor.
According to the U.S. Army website, a Medal of Honor recommendation can take up to 18 months of rigorous scrutiny by the Army chain of command, Congress, the Secretary of Defense and, ultimately, the president.
Unfortunately for the petitioners, the website notes that the Department of the Army Human Resources Command has a two-year time limit from the act of heroism to submit an application.
If an outpouring of support should warrant it, however, the Department of Veterans Affairs could replace the headstones of the two Marines with headstones specially engraved for Medal of Honor recipients.
To sign the petition, visit petitions.whitehouse.gov, click “view petitions” and search for the name Haerter.
To hear more about Jordan’s Initiative, visit www.jordansinitiative.com.