The Saratoga Sun -

By Liz Wood 

A hero honored

Encampment graduate awarded the Purple Heart by Sen. Mike Enzi


Liz Wood

Sen. Mike Enzi presents Robert James, formerly of Encampment, with the Purple Heart in a ceremony Saturday at Khe Sanh West Park in Saratoga. James was injured by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. James' family was invited to stand with him during the ceremony.

Sen. Mike Enzi said he was impressed with the number of people who attended the Purple Heart award ceremony Saturday at Khe Sanh West Park in Saratoga. With around 50 attendants, Enzi said it was the largest crowd he had seen when presenting a Purple Heart.

Robert James, formerly of Encampment, was awarded the Purple Heart in front of family members, friends and veterans.

After he presented the Purple Heart, Enzi read from the certificate stating "Robert James showed extreme bravery while serving with the Wyoming National Guard in Iraq in 2006 and 2007." James was injured by a roadside bomb on Aug. 18, 2007 while serving in the 101st Engineering Company out of Rock Springs.

"We are grateful for your service and your courage and thank you and all the country's veterans for making the world a better place," Enzi said. "It is my privilege at this point to present you with the Purple Heart."

Led by the American Legion Post 54 Post Commander, Shelby Fuller, the ceremony included comments from the American Legion's Department Commander, Pat Lawson and American Legion's District 6 Commander, Mike Sherr.

Also in attendance were Saratoga Mayor John Zeiger and Encampment Councilwoman Mary Martin.

Lawson told James and the audience it was a pleasure and honor to be at the ceremony and to see James receive one of the highest awards the military can give.

"On behalf of all the veterans, I thank you," Lawson said.

Sherr, who is also the American Legion Post 122 Commander in Rawlins, said he was honored to be invited to the presentation and thanked James for his service.

Also in attendance were two other Purple Heart Recipients including Vietnam Veteran Frank Lucero, of Rawlins. Lucero is the Chaplain of American Legion Post 122.

Enzi said it was honor to be at the ceremony Saturday and thanked the American Legion for hosting the ceremony.

"This is the biggest award ceremony I have ever attended," Enzi said, "And I have given out quite a few of the awards."

Enzi went on to say, "Wyoming is the most patriotic state in the nation. We have more people who have served per capita than any other state."

Enzi told the crowd people who sign up with the military are giving the country a blank check with their life, Enzi said.

"Some have paid the ultimate price, all have paid a price," Enzi added.

Enzi said he was proud of the people in Wyoming who have served and all the families who have a family member in the service. "It is not easy being a family member overseas serving their country."

"The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals that are awarded to members of the military," Enzi said. Enzi invited other Purple Heart members to join in the ceremony.

Enzi told the young people in the audience that they should be proud of this moment and of James. "It is very special and unusual," Enzi said.

"It is always a great day when we get to do this and give our heartfelt gratitude to someone who is special and paid the price," Enzi said.

Enzi reminded the audience they should remember those who serve every day, not just on special days like Veterans Day, as they are always serving their country.

Enzi said he would especially like to thank the Vietnam Veterans, as they are the least thanked group anywhere and those veterans appear at deployments, funerals and participate in honor guards to ensure that all veterans are recognized.


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