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Honoring a Sachem Hero

Taking time to remember Sgt. Jason Santora.

As many other publications pay tribute to soldiers from their coverage area, Sachem Patch will do the same for Memorial Day 2010. While countless soldiers have grown up in Sachem, or lived in the community at one time or another, none have grabbed more headlines than Sgt. Jason Santora, who died April 23, while fighting for America as a U.S. Army Ranger.

At 25, he made the ultimate sacrifice and gave his life in honor of our freedom. A member of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based in Fort Benning, Ga., Santora, who graduated from Sachem High School in 2003, died in Logar province. NATO said five insurgents were killed in a battle and that the casualties came during a joint military operation with Afghan forces at a compound in the Puli Alam district.

"He was a terrific kid and I'm so proud of him," his father Gary Santora told me last month at an Armed Forces monument unveiling at Sachem High School North. "He loved what he was doing."

For more than three years, he was a mortar platoon ammunition bearer and a rifle team leader. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal.

His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge, and Parachutist Badge. He has also been awarded the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with combat star, Iraq Campaign Medal with two combat stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, according to his biography on the SOCOM website.

There have been more strides in recent years to honor fallen soldiers, especially since we're living through a war right now. Don't take Memorial Day for granted. Don't just use it as a day to get sun on the beach. Take just one minute to reflect on the men and women giving their lives for this wonderful country. Put the politics and everyday struggles of life aside and think about what the Armed Forces are doing for us. Remember those who fought in World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and those battling the heat of war in Iraq and Afghanistan as you read this.

It should be our duty as American citizens to honor the military as much as we can. So do it. God Bless America.


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