Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gold Medal of Remembrance

This article appeared in the The Washington Times on October 30, 2007

Fallen troops' children honored;
Award shows nation's support

By Sean Lengell


The sons and daughters of servicemen who lost their lives while serving in Iraq were awarded the Gold Medal of Remembrance yesterday at a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

Congress created the award to recognize children of military personnel killed in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"A loss on the battlefield is also a terrible loss at home," said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat and co-host of the afternoon ceremony at the Russell Senate Office Building.

The ceremony was organized by the White House Commission on Remembrance and attended by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff. Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, was the event's other co-host.

"I had no idea so many people mourned and prayed with us; it's just amazing," said award recipient Cali Baldwin, 11, of Gulfport, Miss., whose father, Navy Builder Chief Joel E. Baldwin, was killed in a 2004 suicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq.

Others honorees were:

* Kelsi, 14, and Evan Lamberson, 11, whose father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall L. Lamberson of Springfield, Mo., died from injuries sustained when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb last year in Ramadi, Iraq.

* Chandler, 13, Elle, 11, and Bailey Downs, 10, whose father, Air Force Maj. William "Brian" Downs, stationed at Hurlburt Field, Fla., was killed in 2005 in Diyala province in eastern Iraq, in a crash of an Iraqi air force aircraft during a training mission.

* Helena, 9, and Rachel Edge, 4, daughters of Marine Capt. James C. Edge of Virginia Beach, who was killed by enemy fire in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2005, were not present and will receive their award later. Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, accepted the award on behalf of the family.

* Nicole Engeman, 22, daughter of Army Chief Warrant Officer John W. Engeman of East Northport, N.Y., who was killed in Iraq last year, received the medal during a ceremony at the Pentagon earlier in the day. Her brother, Army Lt. Patrick Engeman, 22, was presented with the award simultaneously in Iraq, where he is serving. The ceremonies were connected through a video teleconferencing link.

"It has almost been two years, and I've almost gotten to the point where I can say his name without crying, and I come here and I've been crying the whole time," said Miss Engeman of Bluefield, W.Va. "But it's also eye-opening to see so many other kids here, and my heart just goes out to them."

More than 200 Gold Medals of Remembrance have been awarded since last year.

The White House Commission on Remembrance - an independent, nonpartisan government agency - was established by Congress in 2000 to encourage Americans to honor military personnel killed during service as well as their families.