Six Receive 'Grateful Nation Award' for Heroism in War on Terror
By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2004 Six servicemembers were honored for heroism in the global war on terror at an award dinner Nov. 15 in Arlington, Va.
Six servicemembers received the "Grateful Nation Award" from the
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs at a Nov. 15 dinner in Washington, D.
C. They are (left to right) Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert F. Jeeves, a tactical air
coordinator attached to U.S. Army Special Forces; Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Frank
Lieske, 1st Cavalry Division; Navy Seaman Luis E. Fonseca Jr., 1st Marine Expeditionary
Force; Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Heidi Eystad, U.S. Coast Guard Activities,
New York Detachment, Sandy Hook; Marine Corps Cpl. Gary A. Spangler, 22nd Marine
Expeditionary Unit; and Army Master Sgt. Roger A. Thompson, 1st Special Forces Group
(Airborne). Photo courtesy of JINSA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Introduced last year by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the "Grateful Nation Award" was created to recognize the courage and dedication of those most often in the line of fire: the enlisted, noncommissioned and junior officers fighting on the front lines of freedom. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Norman Hascoe, JINSA president, presented the awards at the organization's annual Henry M. Jackson award dinner.
"Many times it is the generals and higher-ranking officers who get the plaudits for successful operations and understandably so," said Tom Neuman, JINSA's executive director, in announcing the program last year. "But it is the lower ranks who are most often in the line of fire. Their tremendous courage and devotion to duty deserves frequent public recognition."
Pace agreed, saying America's military men and women "tear your heart out with their love and their incredible devotion to this nation and to each other."
"You can bank on the fact that you're hearing about one-tenth of 1 percent of what that individual did to be nominated," he added.
Pace also praised the families of those on the front lines, saying those "who serve at home show a strength and courage far beyond the courage of the moment in battle." To hold families together during deployments, Pace said, "takes tremendous energy, love and strength of character."
The award recipients, all veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, were selected by their respective services.
- Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Frank Lieske, 1st Cavalry Division;
- Navy Seaman Luis E. Fonseca Jr., 1st Marine Expeditionary Force;
- Marine Corps Cpl. Gary A. Spangler, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit;
- Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Heidi Eystad, U.S. Coast Guard Activities, New York Detachment, Sandy Hook;
- Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert F. Jeeves, a tactical air coordinator attached to U.S. Army Special Forces; and
- Army Master Sgt. Roger A. Thompson, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).
All six had performed acts of heroism, putting the mission and the lives of others before themselves, officials said. Though clearly feeling honored, they all credited their fellow servicemembers rather than themselves. "It was the other guys who got it for me," Jeeves said, a sentiment echoed by all of his fellow award recipients.
JINSA is an independent, nonpartisan organization established in 1976 to educate the public on national and international security issues, including the importance of an effective U.S. defense capability and the key role of strategic allies in promoting democratic values in the Middle East.